Reading Wrap-Up (August 22, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the past week, so I thought I’d share a reading wrap-up once again. As usual, I’m joining It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR). Here goes.

What I’m Currently Reading

After I finished my last book on Saturday, I was thinking of starting a memoir. After looking through Bookshare’s biography and memoir category for a bit and reading the summaries of several books, I finally settled on All My Friends Are Invisible by Jonathan Joly. This is a memoir about the author’s life growing up surrounded by imaginary friends. I’m pretty sure that, further yet, the author could be diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, but so far this term hasn’t been mentioned.

Other than that, I picked up My Heart and Other Black holes by Jasmine Warga again. I’m not sure why I even want to finish it, other than to prove to myself that I can finish a book that doesn’t deserve at least a four-star rating. It’s so predictable. Maybe I’m hoping for some intriguing plot twist, but so far at 62%, no such luck.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I finished two books in the past week. One is Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie, which I reviewed on Tuesday. The other is a winter special in the Unicorn Magic series by Daisy Meadows called Snowstar and the Big Freeze. This chapter book was the perfect antidote to the hot weather. Or something like that. I honestly don’t know why I picked it in the middle of August, but I did and it was good.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

I once again have no idea. I’m a true mood reader, so whenever I finish a book, I grab whatever strikes my fancy next. That’s how I got to pick the Jonathan Joly memoir too. I mean, I literally hadn’t heard of it minutes before I started reading it. So yeah, I might read another chapter book on magical creatures, since I have several downloaded off Bookshare. However, I may also be in the mood for another thriller. Who knows? I currently don’t.

What have you been reading recently?

Book Review: Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie

Hi everyone. Like I said a few weeks ago, I started reading Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie. I discovered it on BookBub, then downloaded it off Bookshare. I finished the book just before midnight yesterday, so here are my thoughts.

Book Blurb

A gripping psychological suspense novel about a woman diagnosed with cancer who sets out to discover if someone poisoned her before her time is up

Jennifer Barnes never expected the shocking news she received at a routine doctor’s appointment: she has a terminal brain tumor—and only six weeks left
to live.

While stunned by the diagnosis, the forty-eight-year-old mother decides to spend what little time she has left with her family—her adult triplets and twin
grandsons—close by her side. But when she realizes she was possibly poisoned a year earlier, she’s determined to discover who might have tried to get rid
of her before she’s gone for good.

Separated from her husband and with a contentious divorce in progress, Jennifer focuses her suspicions on her soon-to-be ex. Meanwhile, her daughters are
each processing the news differently. Calm medical student Emily is there for whatever Jennifer needs. Moody scientist Aline, who keeps her mother at arm’s
length, nonetheless agrees to help with the investigation. Even imprudent Miranda, who has recently had to move back home, is being unusually solicitous.

But with her daughters doubting her campaign against their father, Jennifer can’t help but wonder if the poisoning is all in her head—or if there’s someone
else who wanted her dead.

My Review

The story is told in short chapters and from alternating viewpoints. Jennifer’s story is told in first-person perspective, while her three daughters’ viewpoints are displayed in third-person perspective. I loved both of these aspects. The short chapters allowed me to lay aside the book for a bit when I wanted to do something other than read. The alternating viewpoints allowed me to gain a nice glimpse into each character’s mind, while the fact that Jennifer’s perspective was the only first-person perspective made it clear that she’s supposed to be the center of attention.

I originally thought the book was on the predictable side for a thriller, believing I’d figured out who caused Jennifer’s poisoning by 22% and the exact nature of the ending by 57%. I was wrong. So wrong. In fact, I didn’t figure out the exact nature of the situation until the very end of the book and it’s not because of some stupid plot twist that makes no sense other than it being required to show the reader that this was a thriller after all. In fact, the story is really well-constructed. I once again had trouble letting go of it once I’d finished it. I gave it a five-star rating again even though I noticed its average rating on Goodreads is only 3.65 stars. I’m not even sure I’d give it a 4.5-star rating if I could this time around.

See more details about this book on its Goodreads page.

Book Review: The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart

A few weeks ago, I was looking for something new to read and decided to look on Bookshare whether authors I’d previously enjoyed, had had books released that I hadn’t yet read. It turned out Erin Stewart had. The Words We Keep was already released a few months ago, but I hadn’t yet known about it. Its blurb immediately appealed to me, as I am myself a mental health consumer and I love poetry. Here’s my review.

Summary

It’s been three months since The Night on the Bathroom Floor–when Lily found her older sister Alice hurting herself. Ever since then, Lily has been desperately trying to keep things together, for herself and for her family. But now Alice is coming home from her treatment program and it is becoming harder for Lily to ignore all of the feelings she’s been trying to outrun.

Enter Micah, a new student at school with a past of his own. He was in treatment with Alice and seems determined to get Lily to process not only Alice’s experience, but her own. Because Lily has secrets, too. Compulsions she can’t seem to let go of and thoughts she can’t drown out.

When Lily and Micah embark on an art project for school involving finding poetry in unexpected places, she realizes that it’s the words she’s been swallowing that desperately want to break through.

My Review

This story is told entirely from Lily’s point of view in first person perspective. I like that, as it shows Lily’s innermost thoughts and experiences through her own eyes. Interspersed are Lily’s made-up words (which took me a while to figure out weren’t actually real English words) and her poems. These aren’t particularly excellent, but they definitely give me a glimpse into her world too. Besides, my poetry as a teen (or even now) is probably worse.

Even though this book deals with heavy subject material, I really wanted it to be a feel-good read too. In this sense, some of the twists I didn’t see coming, disappointed me a little, but they were also important to the overall story.

I really liked Erin Stewart’s writing style of alternating between storytelling and such vignettes as poetry or Lily’s made-up words.

Overall, I gave this book five stars on Goodreads, but I would’ve given it 4.5 stars if Goodreads did half stars. The reason is the disappointment I felt at some of the plot twists. This book really gave me a bit of a book hangover.

Book Details

Title: The Words We Keep
Author: Erin Stewart
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: March 15, 2022

Reading Wrap-Up (August 1, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. I finally seem to be getting back into a reading groove again. Let me share what I’ve been up to in the book department. As usual, I’m joining in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?.

What I’m Currently Reading

I just started reading Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie last night. I think I discovered it on BookBub, but I downloaded it off Bookshare rather than buying it on Apple Books or Amazon. The blurb really interested me and, so far, the short chapters and alternating viewpoints, really add to its appeal.

In addition, I finally picked up The Choices We Make by Karma Brown again. I find it surprising I still remember the plot to a degree, given how long I’ve taken to read it thus far.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Only one book and it was one I haven’t mentioned in a reading wrap-up before. Can you see how long it’s been since I’ve done one of these? Yesterday, I finished The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart. I loved the book, but won’t say much more, since I’m planning on writing a review soon. It did get me thinking I really want to find a better book tracking app than GoodReads though. I tried StoryGraph, but that app doesn’t have the default iOS app layout I’m used to and is really hard to work.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

I still have a ton of books I may or may not want to get to. One function I wish GoodReads had, is a Did-Not-Finish shelf. I know you can create one, but it would be so much easier if it were there by default. That way, I could shelf away books I may want to list as having read but that I just don’t find the time for to finish at this point. As it is, these are on my Currently-Reading shelf, which is rapidly clogging up. After the Cure by Deirdre Gould has probably been on it for two years.

Then there is my ever-growing list of books I may want to read someday. I have a ton of romance novels, mysteries and other “easy” adult reading that I downloaded for free off Apple Books or Amazon.

Then there’s kidlit. When my husband paid for the renewal of my Bookshare subscription last June, he noticed I’d been downloading books on unicorns a lot. These are children’s books, of course. Indeed, during the month of June, I read a few books about unicorns, namely the first book in the Unicorn University series by Daisy Sunshine and the first book in the Unicorn Diaries Branches Books series. I think when Six Weeks to Live gets too heavy for me, I’ll make a detour to the next installment in one of these series.

What have you been reading?

Reading Wrap-Up (May 23, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. I have been trying to get back into reading again. Let me share what I’ve read recently. Here goes. As usual, I’m joining in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR).

What I’m Currently Reading

I finally picked up Thrive by Kenneth Oppel again a few weeks ago and no, I still haven’t finished it. It sounds like this book is more character-driven than the prequels and I’m not sure I love or hate that.

I’ve also been reading Unleashed by Emily Kimelman, an intriguing mystery. In nonfiction, I am reading 999 – My Life on the Frontline of the Ambulance Service by Dan Farnworth.

Finally, I recently learned that Bookshare, the service I use for downloading accessible eBooks, now also does audiobooks. I didn’t try them, but this did get me inspired to check out Apple’s audiobook collection. There’s this collection of free classics on the Apple books app. I initially wanted to get Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, but the reviews said that its narrator was almost worse than the first version of Siri, as monotonous as he spoke. So I decided to go for something much more light-hearted, in a way, and pick Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I can now see why other people with dissociative identity disorder find it offensive or triggering.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I am known for starting a ton of books and rarely finishing them, unless I really, really love them. Or unless they’re really short. This was the case with the early chapter book Bo’s Magical New Friend by Rebecca Elliott. I love love love unicorns and had heard about the Branches Books before, so I really wanted to try if I (and my inner child parts) liked them. Despite it being a really quick read (for me, of course), the plot was quite intriguing and I’m sure any newly-independent readers who love unicorns will love this one. I must say that, due to the illustrations, some of the text got muddled in the Bookshare book.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

I started another chapter book series, besides the one I mentioned above, on unicorns a while back. It’s the Unicorn University series and the chapters are longer. I saw that the author, Daisy Sunshine, recently added another book to the series. I’ll definitely have to read more of those books.

I also saw that Casey Watson has a new foster care memoir out. However, Apple Books is acting up, in that sometimes at the end of a paragraph or page words are missing in VoiceOver (Apple’s built-in screen reader). For this reason, I’m hesitant to buy books off Apple Books.

What have you been reading lately?

Reading Wrap-Up (January 10, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. The year has been off to a good start in the reading department. Like I said when sharing my hopes for 2022, I fully intend on getting back into the reading groove. So far, it all seems to be going magical. Let me share what I’ve been reading recently. As usual, I’m linking up with #IMWAYR.

What I’m Currently Reading

First, somehow, I can’t remember exactly how but I believe it was through Goodreads, I stumbled upon A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult. The endings of the two Picoult books I’ve read before, My Sister’s Keeper and Handle With Care, were horribly disappointing, but I still loved her writing style enough that I want more. A Spark of Light is also a shorter read compared to her other books still on my TBR shelf, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Then, on Thursday, Maggie Hartley’s latest foster care memoir, Behind Closed Doors, came out as an eBook. I immediately bought it on Apple Books and am 81% done with it now. That’s pretty far considering I haven’t been totally engrossed in it.

Finally, yesterday, in response to #JusJoJan, I saw a post talking about a book on unicorns. It immediately inspired me to want to read a children’s book on unicorns too. I chose a book suited for slightly older children than this blogger’s granddaughter’s read, although I may read My Secret Unicorn at some point too. I decided to read the first installment in the Unicorn University series by Daisy Sunshine. This book is called Twilight, Say Cheese!. I am not yet done with the book, but am hoping to finish it later tonight.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Nothing. The most recent book I finished was Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor just before Christmas. I finished that book in one sitting, but only because it was such a short read. I enjoyed it and was intrigued by it, but I didn’t think it was as amazing as other people had said it was. I blame that on the fact that I’m not that much of a literary critic.

I still have a number of books I’m currently reading that I started way back in the first half of 2021, like After the Cure by Deirdre Gould. However, I’m quite likely not finishing those.

What I think I’ll Read Next

I am planning on reading some more chapter books on magical creatures. I currently have the first book in the Mermicorn Island series by Jason June, forgot its title, downloaded off Bookshare and am probably going to read that as soon as I finish the Daisy Sunshine chapter book. Either that or the next installment in her series.

I feel a little weird for reading mostly chapter books right now, but I’m trying to counter that with the argument that I’m not a literary critic after all. For this reason, reading doesn’t have to be a chore. Rather, I read for pleasure and that’s what matters.

Sunday Ramble: Books

E.M. Kingston started a prompt called Sunday Ramble a few weeks ago and today’s topic is “books”. The idea of the Sunday Ramble is that she poses five questions on the topic and you’re allowed to ramble as you please. By this she seems to mean that you don’t need to answer the questions in order, but can turn them into an essay too. I am just going to answer her questions though. Here they are.

1. Do you prefer digital, paperback, or hard bound books?
This is a no-brainer: digital! The reason is simple: I am blind and cannot read print. Back in the days before eBooks became accessible with screen readers, when I’d still have to digitalize my own books, I preferred hard bound books because they were easier to place on the scanner. Then again, I never liked the process of scanning my own books.

2. Do you have a library full of books or just your favorite tales?
Library of books! I have a Bookshare membership, which is like a library service for the print disabled which lets you download an almost unlimited number of books for $50 per year. You can also keep them as long as you’re a member of the service as far as I’m aware. I currently have roughly 260 books downloaded off there. That is, I have 263 books in Voice Dream Reader, the app I use to access Bookshare books, but that includes some PDFs I downloaded elsewhere and DAISY books from the Dutch library for the blind too.

In addition to using Bookshare, I occasionally buy Kindle books or eBooks off Apple Books. I also like to use BookBub to get free books on Kindle or Apple Books. So if the question had been about number of books bought rather than number of books I have on my shelves, the answer would be quite different, since most books I get either free through BookBub or via my Bookshare membership.

3. Harry Potter, Narnia, or Twilight? (You can choose all three or pick and choose.)
Uhm, am I going to get laughed at if I say I haven’t read any of these at all? If I have to choose though, I’m going with Narnia because it’s Christian-based.

4. Do you like when books are turned into movies? Why or why not?
I don’t really ever watch movies, so I consider that a no.

5. What is a book that you have read over and over again?
I hardly ever reread books now. As a teen though, in the days of scanning books, I had fewer books to choose from. That is, of course I was a member of the Dutch library for the blind then too, but I didn’t like listening to audiobooks. Anyway, I could read Caja Cazemier’s Dutch young adult novels over and over again. My favorite was probably Iris, about a girl who runs away from her mother and is placed in a youth home.

Book Review: A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel

Hi all. I finally picked up reading again last week and for a change didn’t start yet another new book. Rather, I finished a book I’d been reading for a few months already: the young adult novel A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel. I’d first heard about this book about half a year ago on another blog and immediately downloaded it off Bookshare. Now that I’ve finished reading it, here’s my review.

Summary

Only when she’s locked away does the truth begin to escape…

Four walls. One window. No way to escape. Hannah knows there’s been a mistake. She didn’t need to be institutionalized. What happened to her roommate at her summer program was an accident. As soon as the doctors and judge figure out that she isn’t a danger to herself or others, she can go home to start her senior year. In the meantime, she is going to use her persuasive skills to get the staff on her side.

Then Lucy arrives. Lucy has her own baggage. And she may be the only person who can get Hannah to confront the dangerous games and secrets that landed her in confinement in the first place.

My Review

This story is told entirely from Hannah’s perspective and that makes it a very intriguing read. At the beginning, I disliked Hannah, but rooted for her at the same time. Maybe because I can relate to her experience of, as she says it, having been “born mature” and trying to outsmart the world.

I also found that Dr. Lightfoot was a likeable character. As she tries to get it through to Hannah that she may in fact be mentally ill and Hannah tries to outsmart her, I can totally feel their dynamic and I find I’m alternatingly on either one’s side.

The book has some interesting twists that I won’t give away and, though I could see some of them coming, they were still surprising enough that the story didn’t feel predictable to me.

Sheinmel says at the end that this book isn’t meant to educate about mental illness. This may be one reason we don’t get any clarity about Hannah’s exact diagnosis. I, like most readers probably, can make a guess. Because of the lack of specifics though, I don’t really know whether Hannah’s is any good representation of the experience of severe mental illness. That’s the only thing I didn’t like about this book and the reason I ended up giving it a four-star rating. Other than that, I loved this book!

Book Details

Title: A Danger to Herself and Others
Author: Alyssa Sheinmel
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: February 5, 2019

Reading Wrap-Up (October 20, 2021)

Hi everyone on this rainy Wednesday. Today, I’m joining WWW Wednesday, a weekly book meme in which the three W’s are what we are currently reading, recently finished and are thinking of reading next. Here goes.

What I’m Currently Reading

I finally picked up After the Cure by Deirdre Gould again after several months of letting it sit there. I am slowly moving through it, but I’m determined to finish it. If for no other reason, I want to prove that I can finish a book that isn’t perfect or near-perfect. After all, when going through my Goodreads shelf, I realized I pretty much only give books I finish four or five stars.

What I Recently Finished Reading

The Bad Room by Jade Kelly. See my review. I gave this book five stars on Goodreads, but honestly it should’ve gotten 4.5 stars.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

I still have several books on my currently-reading shelf that I haven’t touched in a few weeks at least. That being said, I’m also very much interested in Fatal Intent by Tammy Euliano, which a fellow blogger (sorry, can’t remember who) recommended recently.

Then there’s Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, which I discovered several months ago already but only recently decided to get my hands on. This is a young adult novel about a Black, queer, trans person’s journey of self-discovery. I really would’ve loved this as a teen, since one of the first lines of the book blurb says how Felix belongs to just a little too many minority groups. That would have been me! Well, I’m White and cisgender, but I belong to other minorities. But I digress.

Finally, I was drawn to check out The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda when I saw it on Sam’s original WWW post. All three of these books, I downloaded off Bookshare. I hope I’ll find myself finding more time and energy to read soon.

What have you been reading?

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?