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?

#IWSG: Favorite Genres to Read

IWSG

Welcome to another installment in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) meeting. This past month, I’d set my expectations pretty high and, as such, was disappointed. I participated in #Write28Days with the aim of writing each day. Not surprisingly, that didn’t work out. I wrote 23 posts over the month of February. I also didn’t really broaden my horizons with respect to writing. That is, most of my posts were securely within my comfort zone. I really hope to be doing better this month.

Now on to the March 3 question: Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

Let me begin by saying my writing comfort zone is pretty narrow. I mostly write personal essays, if that’s even what my blog posts can be called. I would really like to write a memoir at some point, but I’ve been telling myself and others that for many years and yet never got down to actually doing it.

When I do write creatively, it’s usually poetry or very short pieces of flash fiction. I used to write some short stories and even have a young adult novel that I started writing as a teen yet never finished and that’s incredibly unimaginative I think.

My reading preferences do partly match my writing preferences, in that my favorite genre to read is memoir. Next to that comes young adult fiction about real problems, like the aforementioned work in progress also is.

I also read books that I couldn’t possibly be writing myself. Oh wait, I can’t really write a book at all, but oh well. I mean, I’ve recently developed an interest in science fiction and the like. I also occasionally read romance novels.

I rarely if ever read traditionally published poetry. That being said, I do love to read poems published on other people’s blogs. Same for personal essays and flash fiction. I mean, I’ve read a few books that were basically anthologies of personal essays, but I prefer to check out blogs for those.

With respect to what motivates my reading choice, I’m a true mood reader. I read a pretty wide variety of books, but they have to suit my mood at that time. I usually choose books based on the blurb. I can’t see the covers, obviously and I rarely read reviews on Amazon or Apple Books. When I do read reviews, it’s on other people’s blogs.

What about you? What motivates your reading choice?

Book Review: A Life Lost by Cathy Glass

Already some months ago, I found out about Cathy Glass’ new foster care memoir, A Life Lost. It didn’t come out till February 18 though and I never pre-order books. I waited for the release date and then immediately bought the eBook on Apple Books. Even though I was reading several other books, I gave priority to this one. I finished it yesterday. Today, I’m ready for a review.

Summary

Jackson is aggressive, confrontational and often volatile. His mother, Kayla, is crippled with grief after tragically losing her husband and eldest son.
Struggling to cope, she puts Jackson into foster care.

Cathy, his carer, encourages Jackson to talk about what has happened to his family, but he just won’t engage. His actions continue to test and worry everyone.

Then, in a dramatic turn of events, the true reason for Jackson’s behaviour comes to light …

My Review

This is a remarkable story. I had already read several of Cathy Glass’ other foster care memoirs, so already knew I liked her writing style. However, some of the books are a bit too predictable for my liking. This one wasn’t. It wasn’t too suspenseful for my liking either. In fact, Cathy used the exact right balance between tension and predictability. For this reason, I had some idea of the reason for Jackson’s behavior, but it still came as enough of a surprise.

This story is not just about Jackson, but also about Tilly, another child in Cathy’s care. I hadn’t read Cathy’s previous book, A Terrible Secret, which introduces Tilly, but I didn’t feel I was missing information. Cathy takes care to explain enough that each memoir can be read as a standalone and yet keeps her explanations brief enough that it doesn’t get boring if you’ve read many of her other books.

One thing that made me feel a little uncomfortable, but in a good way, was the story’s ending. It is sad, but then again sadness is part of life.

I totally loved this story and gave it five stars on Goodreads. I really hope this isn’t Cathy Glass’ last memoir.

Book Details

Title: A Life Lost: Jackson Is Haunted by a Secret from His Past
Author: Cathy Glass
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: February 18, 2021

Book Review: Let Me Go by Casey Watson

Last week, I found out Amazon.nl now accepts iDEAL, the Dutch payment method via your bank account. Unfortunately, as of yet, it doesn’t accept this method for digital purchases such as Kindle books. I didn’t realize this until I had already bought a book with my husband’s credit card. Honestly, I think it’s stupid that they won’t accept iDEAL for digital purchases, but oh well. Anyway, looking back maybe I should’ve purchased a book that isn’t on Apple Books, but I ended up purchasing Let Me Go, Casey Watson’s latest foster care memoir. This book came out last August, but I wasn’t really interested in reading it up till now. Read on to see what I thought.

Summary

Let Me Go is the powerful new memoir from foster carer and Sunday Times bestselling author Casey Watson.

Harley, 13, has been sectioned under the mental health act after attempting suicide. She was spotted climbing the railings on a footbridge that crossed a busy motorway and pulled to safety by a member of the public. After six weeks in hospital, social services are looking for a short-term placement so she can be kept safe while family therapy takes place. Harley has a family – a widowed mother and an older sister, Milly, who left home with her long-term boyfriend just over a year ago. There is no prospect of Harley going home just yet though, as her mum, who has learning difficulties and addictions issues, feels she cannot cope. So she arrives with Casey and Mike under a twenty-eight day care order.

As Harley tries to hurl herself out of the moving car on the way home, it quickly becomes clear she is in urgent need of help. Three weeks into the placement, after Harley has made various attempts to abscond, it seems like zero progress is being made. Then all of sudden there is an unexpected breakthrough, and light at the end of a long dark tunnel, but only once Harley is finally able to share the truth about the abuse she suffered at the hands of a very dangerous man.

My Review

This book is a sad look into the errors of the care system. Harley is deemed “care-seeking” (the politically correct term for attention-seeking) by the mental health professionals and is, for this reason, refused mental health care even though she’s clearly at risk. I mean, I honestly don’t feel that anyone in their right mind would make multiple even half-hearted attempts at suicide. In fact, I’m so happy the mental health system here in the Netherlands at least allowed care based on “adjustment disorder” (serious distress due to environmental circumstances) back in my day. It doesn’t anymore, unfortunately.

I was, at first, convinced Harley was at least at risk of developing emotionally unstable (borderline) personality disorder. This can’t be diagnosed in children her age, but it sure seemed she would meet the criteria at some point. BPD is, though, usually a trauma-based condition. So is Harley’s condition, as it turns out.

I had lots of sympathy for Harley, even as Casey and Mike almost lost it with her. This is in part due to the similarities between her experience and mine, but also due to Casey’s caring writing style.

Still, the book dragged a little at first. That’s probably to illustrate how little progress was made at first. Once Harley’s real situation is clear, things after all move more quickly.

At the end, Casey explains some of the issues with the 28-day care order. This was really interesting to read.

Overall, I really loved this book. I should’ve read it as soon as it came out.

Book Details

Title: Let Me Go: Abused and Afraid, She Has Nothing to Live for
Author: Casey Watson
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: August 6, 2020

Read With Me

#IWSG: Choose One Author

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again. Oh my, can you believe we’re already two-thirds through 2020? I can’t. In any case, the first Wednesday of the month is the #IWSG posting day.

I haven’t been doing as well as I’d hoped in the writing department over the month of August. Yes, I did post to this blog several times a week each week. I remember my husband at one point, when I was in the mental hospital and particularly lethargic, encouraged me to write one blog post each week. It’s been forever since I last struggled with that, but still, I want more.

I saw a few weeks ago that Chicken Soup for the Soul have a book coming out about tough times because of the COVID-19 lockdown. I thought of submitting a story about my husband’s and my forced lack of seeing each other for the first three months of quarantine. Still, I feel pretty insecure and fear rejection. I know, as a writer, rejection is part of the business and if you don’t try, you won’t succeed at all. I however struggle not to take rejection personally. I know that Chicken Soup just won’t notify you if you’ve been rejected, but still. The deadline is October 31, so I still have time.

Now on to the optional question. This month’s question is: if you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why? This is a little hard, as I’m not a book writer, so really I’d have to go with someone to critique my blog. I would however still really like to at least write and hopefully (self-)publish my memoir. For this reason, I’m choosing foster care memoirist Cathy Glass. She wouldn’t really be my beta partner – more my writing mentor. Although I must say I’d love to beta read her memoirs too.

In addition to memoirs, she also writes thrillers under the name of Lisa Stone. I’d really love her to teach me how to write fiction.

How about you? Would you like an author to be your writing mentor or beta partner?

Reading Wrap-Up (August 31, 2020) #IMWAYR

It’s been a few weeks since I last did a reading wrap-up. The reason isn’t that I’ve not been reading, but that I moved through most books slowly and didn’t want to bore you all with updates about the same books week after week. Today, I thought I’d share what’s been going on in my (reading) life. As always, I’m joining in with #IMWAYR.

Life Update

Like I said yesterday, I’ve been using reading for escapism a lot lately. I can’t quite pinpoint the reason, but I’m struggling a bit. I often feel overwhelmed when in the communal rooms at my home, so I retreat into my room and read.

What I’m Currently Reading

Nothing at the moment. I deleted a few books off my “Currently Reading” bookshelf on Goodreads because I’d had them there for nine months to several years and didn’t believe I was going to finish them anytime within the foreseeable future.

I’m still only 6% done with The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth, but I haven’t committed to reading it yet. By that I mean, I haven’t put it on my Goodreads shelf or decided I’m going to spend significant time devoted to this particular book.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I finished two books in the past week. The first was Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass. I finished that one on Thursday and wrote a review of it on Friday.

The second one is No Way Out by Kate Elysia. This is an abuse survivor memoir. I found this one by looking for other inspirational memoirs to read besides the foster care memoirs by the likes of Cathy Glass, Casey Watson, etc. I am thinking of doing a mini review of this one someday when I’ve read some other books I discovered too.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

I really don’t know for sure! I still need to read the new Casey Watson and Maggie Hartley foster care memoirs that came out on August 6 and I think Angela Hart has a new memoir out too. I’ve not read anything by Angela Hart, as she isn’t discussed on the inspirational memoirs groups as much.

In addition, I discovered the preview feature on Apple Books just last week too. I never thought to actually download a preview of a book before buying the book. Don’t know why not. This week, I downloaded previews for two domestic violence survivor memoirs, before I ended up buying No Way Out (without downloading a preview first).

Lastly, in case I’m not into serious reading, Rebecca of BookishlyRebecca recommended the young adult romcom Tweet Cute by Emma Lord. I immediately checked if it was available on Bookshare and it was!

What’s up in your reading life?

Book Review: Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass

Hi all, how are you? What have you been reading? After I finished Bloom last week, I couldn’t decide what to read for a while. I wasn’t really into fiction anymore, so I picked up a memoir I’d already started on: Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass. I have since discovered a ton of other foster care and abuse survival memoirs I may still want to read.

Summary

The true story of a 6-year-old boy with a dreadful secret.

Oskar’s school teacher raises the alarm. Oskar’s mother is abroad and he has been left in the care of ‘friends’, but has been arriving in school hungry, unkempt, and with bruises on his arms, legs and body. Experienced foster carer Cathy Glass is asked to look after him, but as the weeks pass her concerns deepen. Oskar is far too quiet for a child of six and is clearly scared of something or someone.

And who are those men parked outside his school watching him?

My Review

I struggled a little to get into this book. Partly, the reason was that I’d gotten the idea that this would be Glass’s last foster care memoir. I also judged from the title and table of contents that this might not be a story ending on a positive note. Thankfully, this won’t be Cathy Glass’s last foster care memoir.

The story had many unexpected turns. This is partly because the summary isn’t too telling. There was far more to Oskar’s story than his quiet demeanor and the men parked outside of his school. I ended up loving this.

Oskar stays with Cathy for a long while, so I really got to know him in the story. I also joined him on his journey of progress from his neglectful home through other disclosures to a better life.

Overall, I totally fell in love with Oskar and this story eventually. This was Cathy Glass’s fifth book I read, so I already knew I liked her writing style. I gave this another five stars on Goodreads.

Book Details

Title: Too Scared to Tell: Abused and Alone, Oskar Has No One. A True Story.
Author: Cathy Glass
Publisher: HarperElement
Publication Date: February 20, 2020

Read With Me

Reading Wrap-Up (August 10, 2020) #IMWAYR

Hi all on this sultry, hot Monday! I was fully intending on writing a reading wrap-up on my computer, but then I somehow crashed it. Thank God I have my phone. I’m not sure I can do this right on my phone though, as I haven’t used it for blogging in a long while and somehow my keyboard keeps inserting commas and a’s at random places. Anyway, I’m trying. As usual, I’m joining in with #IMWAYR. I’m also joining in with ReaderBuzz’s Sunday Salon.

Life Update

Well, other than it being soaring hot out here, what do I share? Okay, my mother-in-law visited me today. (For readers visiting from the link-ups, I don’t live with my husband, as I live in a care facility.) We went for a short walk, then had ice cream and later a coffee. It was fun.

What I’m Currently Reading

I’m 77% done with Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott. I really wanted to finish it today and maybe I will. Just not in time for this blog post. Oh, I guess I won’t finish it today after all, as with my having taken an hour to write this blog post, it’s already 10PM.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I finished only one book this week: Heroine by Mindy McGinnis. I already finished it on Thursday and, like I said, fully intended on finishing more, but the heat got in the way. That’s why I didn’t write a review till yesterday.

What I Think I’ll Be Reading Next

There are a couple of new foster care memoirs out. One is called Let Me Go by Casey Watson and the other is Groomed to Be a Bride by Maggie Hartley. However, I’ve resolved not to buy more books this month, because I’m trying to save some money. That being said, I did download a middle grade novel called Far From Fair by Elana K. Arnold off Bookshare. I might read that one, although I still have many more books that I could be reading.

What have you been reading?