Top Five Books That Exceeded My Expectations

I am once again in the mood for books and book blogging. Today I discovered a new to me bookish meme called Top 5 Tuesday. Today’s topic is about the books that exceeded your expectations. Now I must say that I don’t usually read books I don’t expect to really like. For this reason, last week’s topic of books that weren’t what I expected, is a lot easier for me. Still, particularly in the last few years, I’ve come to read a few books that are outside of my admittedly rather narrow comfort zone and that I did end up loving. Here they are.

1. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Well, let’s start with a book I read many years ago. I read this in high school for no other reason than it being in the public domain so easily accessible to me as a blind girl from a non-English-speaking country. I ended up really liking it, unlike the other books I read for English literature.

2. Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler. This was really outside of my comfort zone. I usually read YA and had never read a thriller before. The blurb spoke to me though. I ended up finishing this book in a few days, which is extremely rare for me.

3. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Though Fangirl has been on my TBR forever, I decided to read Attachments first. It is outside of my comfort zone too, as I rarely read romances or adult fiction in general. I really liked this one though.

4. Cruel to Be Kind by Cathy Glass. Of course, I need to include a memoir in this list, as that’s my favorite genre. I was told about Cathy Glass’ books many times by my trauma survivor friends in the UK and Ireland, but never got to read her books until I picked up this one in 2017. It isn’t the best book of hers I’ve read since, but it was the book that got me into Cathy Glass.

5. Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton. Will I ever have a top five list without this one on it? ☺️ This was a book I really expected to like, but it turned out even better. I loved the plot. It’s a shame I still haven’t read Consumed yet.

Reading Wrap-Up (December 30, 2019)

It’s Monday again. Last week, I didn’t have much to share in the reading department, so I skipped my reading wrap-up. Then again, I’d never promised this would be a weekly feature. Today, I’m once again joining in with #IMWAYR, Stacking the Shelves and the Sunday Post.

This week was rather hectic. Of course it was, since it was Christmas time. I fully intended on spending a lot of my free time reading, but ended up sleeping some of it away instead. I also of course spent some time celebrating with family.

What I’ve Been Reading

First, I have to confess that I still, yes, still didn’t finish Left Neglected. I’m not even close, as my book app says I’ve read only 37%. I didn’t even read any further in Pictures of Me by Marilee Haynes. It probably proves how much of a mood reader I am, since this middle grade novel has been on my to-be-read list forever.

I did, after all, actually read an entire book. I finished A Baby’s Cry by Cathy Glass yesterday. It was a fascinating read! I have to say the more I read from Cathy’s fostering memoirs, the more I love them. This was an older book, having been published in 2014, so I’m not sure my readers would be interested in a review. I may post one anyway.

I’m really on the fence as to what should be my next read. Of course, I should be finishing Left Neglected, but I’m not sure I’m in the mood for adult fiction much right now. I could be starting one of the young adult books I added to my shelves recently, but I’m not sure I’m in the mood for fiction at all.

Stacking the Shelves

Like I said two weeks ago, I discovered Apple Books recently. The app has been behaving more or less as it should. Since I’m used to Kindle, I may still prefer that, but I am glad I have a choice now. Besides, Apple Books accepts payment through my Apple account, which makes it easier for me to buy books if I want to. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, will remain to be seen.

I added a bunch of free journaling books to my collection in Apple Books. Some of them cost money on Kindle, albeit only like €0,99, so I’m wondering what the catch is.

Then I added some books to my Bookshare collection. These include:


  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I got the twentieth-anniversary edition that was published this year. It’s somewhat humbling to see young adult books were published in English twenty years ago, when I was thirteen. Of course they were, but I was an avid reader of Dutch YA at the time and read English only when I had to.

  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. The Dutch translation was on my to-be-read list before I’d gotten on Bookshare or had even discovered accessible eBooks, but I’m really looking forward to reading the original English.

  • Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott. I saw this book among the Goodreads Choice Awards nominees in the YA section and thought I’d like it.

What have you been reading?

Reading Wrap-Up (December 16, 2019)

I am not primarily a book blogger, like I’ve said more than once. However, I do love reading and at any given time have a huge pile of books I still want to read. I have always loved sharing my love of reading, even though I don’t move fast. I mean, I usually take several weeks to complete a book. This may be due to the fact that I usually read more than one book at once.

I enjoy participating in book-related memes. I love to discover new books to add to my TBR pile and I’m sometimes even surprised at how many I know, given that like I said I’m a slow reader and don’t devote the majority of my time to books. Today, I’m joining in with a few book-related memes.

First, I discovered Stacking The Shelves just today. This is an awesome meme that lets you share what books you’ve added to your collection, whether digital or physical. It doesn’t require that you actually read them. Then, I’m joining in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR). I joined in with that linky last August intending to make my recent reads a monthly feature. I’m not promising I will this time. There’s a kidlit version of #IMWAYR too, but I can’t seem to link up there, so I’m just sharing my kidlit stuff here too. Finally, I’m joining in with the Sunday Post.

Life Update

This past week was hectic. I was triggered during most of it due to the phone conversation with my mother last Monday. I didn’t even share the most upsetting parts of it on my blog. Then over the week-end, my husband and I had several miscommunications, which led to the week-end being less enjoyable than it could’ve been. Then this morning, I had a brief but bad meltdown at day activities. I guess it’s time to retreat into books.

What I’ve Been Reading

Like I said, I tend to read several books at once. This past week, I finally moved past the first chapter in Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. I still think it’s a pretty boring read so far. Hoping it’ll get more interesting as I move along.

I added Pictures of Me by Marilee Haynes to my Bookshare collection a few weeks ago. This Christian middle grade novel has been on my to-be-read list forever and I finally started reading it last week. So far, its Christian focus doesn’t seem to be overdone and I like it.

Stacking the Shelves

Books I’ve added to my collection recently include:


  • Everyday Healing with Essential Oils by Jimm Harrison. I know, this one isn’t interesting for fiction lovers and I doubt I’ll even ever read it in full. I like it as my little reference guide though for when (if?) I’m going to create my own aromatherapy blends.
  • More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. I don’t know whether I’ll like the dystopian aspect to this one, but it’s also intriguing at the same time.

  • My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. This sounds like a truly fascinating story.

  • A Baby’s Cry by Cathy Glass. I still haven’t asked my husband if I can use his credit card details for my Amazon account. I was planning on it this week-end, but due to said communication mishaps, I didn’t. I instead bought the book on Apple Books.

What have you been reading lately?

Book Review: Finding Stevie by Cathy Glass

I bought Finding Stevie, Cathy Glass’ most recently published book, already shortly after it first came out in early March. However, I had a ton of books on my reading list, so I didn’t immediately start it. Then it took me a while to finish it, because I got distracted. Last Sunday I finally finished it, but didn’t feel like writing a review yet. I was having a bad cold and didn’t feel like writing much at all. Now my cold is gone, so I can write the review.

Synopsis

Finding Stevie is a dark and poignant true story that highlights the dangers lurking online.

When Stevie’s social worker tells Cathy, an experienced foster carer, that Stevie, 14, is gender fluid she isn’t sure what that term means and looks it up.

Stevie, together with his younger brother and sister, have been brought up by their grandparents as their mother is in prison. But the grandparents can no longer cope with Stevie’s behaviour so they place him in care.

Stevie is exploring his gender identity, and like many young people he spends time online. Cathy warns him about the dangers of talking to strangers online and advises him how to stay safe. When his younger siblings tell their grandmother that they have a secret they can’t tell, Cathy is worried. However, nothing could have prepared her for the truth when Stevie finally breaks down and confesses what he’s done.

My Review

I at first had some trouble getting through the first few chapters. I was curious what Stevie’s secret might be and didn’t find out till almost midway through the book. Then, I worried until nearly the end that the book might not end on a positive note. It seemed to drag on a bit, but eventually, I couldn’t help but love this book.

As the book carried on, I grew sympathetic towards every character. For example, Fred, Stevie’s grandfather, is very blunt and doesn’t accept Stevie’s gender identity at first. He reminded me of my own father, having very strong opinions that he wouldn’t let go of despite the evidence. However, in the end it is clear that Fred too loves his grandson.

Book Details

Title: Finding Stevie: A Dark Secret. A Child in Crisis.
Author: Cathy Glass
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: February 21, 2019

Book Review: Where Has Mummy Gone? by Cathy Glass

I bought Where Has Mummy Gone? by Cathy Glass on Kindle right when it came out early last month, but didn’t finish it till yesterday. Not because it wasn’t a good book, but because I struggled to make time for reading. Today, I’m reviewing this foster care memoir.

Synopsis

The true story of Melody, aged 8, the last of five siblings to be taken from her drug dependent single mother and brought into care.

When Cathy is told about Melody’s terrible childhood, she is sure she’s heard it all before. But it isn’t long before she feels there is more going on than she or the social services are aware of. Although Melody is angry at having to leave her mother, as many children coming into care are, she also worries about her obsessively – far more than is usual. Amanda, Melody’s mother, is also angry and takes it out on Cathy at contact, which again is something Cathy has experienced before. Yet there is a lost and vulnerable look about Amanda, and Cathy starts to see why Melody worries about her and feels she needs looking after.

When Amanda misses contact, it is assumed she has forgotten, but nothing could have been further from the truth…

My Review

The subtitle listed on Amazon for this book is “A Young Girl and a Mother Who No Longer Knows Her”. From this subtitle, I already guessed that Amanda, Melody’s mother, might’ve suffered some form of brain damage. Perhaps she was in an accident and had gone into a persistent vegetative state? The thought of dementia also crossed my mind, but I dismissed this when I found out early in the book that Amanda was only 42.

Despite the fact that I had some inkling of where this book might be headed, the twists and turns did surprise me. It was heartbreaking to read about Amanda’s decline. The book ended on a really bittersweet note.

I loved Cathy Glass’ narrative style. I developed a liking for each of the characters. Amanda, of course, elicited pity with her illness, but I also got to appreciate the attempts she’d made at caring for Melody before she was taken into foster care. Cathy maintains a mostly unbiased yet positive attitude throughout the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, despite its emotive subject matter.

Book Details

Title: Where Has Mummy Gone?: A Young Girl and a Mother Who No Longer Knows Her
Author: Cathy Glass
Publisher: Harper Element
Publication Date: September 6, 2018