Reading Wrap-Up (January 17, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. I’ve done a fair amount of reading once again over the past week. For this reason, I thought I’d do another recap of what I’ve read. As usual, I’m linking up with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

What I’m Currently Reading

Still reading A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult. Being that the story is told in reverse chronological order, I found out pretty quickly that it was not going to end well (sorry if that’s a spoiler). However, also knowing that the story probably isn’t told in reverse order for no reason, I wanted to know what happened in the 86% after (or should I say “before”?) what I now think of as one of the main characters getting killed. Besides, I knew from the blurb that this book was about a hostage situation. In that kind of a situation, usually, people die. So I try to let my curiosity win the battle from my thought that every one of Picoult’s books has to end with the main character dying, because that’s what happened in My Sister’s Keeper and Handle With Care.

Other than that, I decided to pick up My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga pretty randomly again. I’d started reading that book early last year and pretty much left it unfinished, but I really want to know what happens at the end even though I think the writing style and character development are both meh.

What I Recently Finished Reading

First, of course, I finished Behind Closed Doors by Maggie Hartley. I reviewed it on Wednesday. I also finished Twilight, Say Cheese!, the first book in the Unicorn University chapter book series by Daisy Sunshine. I really liked that one, but haven’t been in the mood for children’s books since then.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

It probably depends on whether I’ll remain in the mood for adult lit or young adult novels or will want to read children’s books again. I mean, I still want to finish The Choices We Make by Karma Brown, another book I started back in early 2021. I also added a few free romance novels to my Apple Books via BookBub. Then again, I’ve never read pure romance and am pretty scared of the smutty, steamy stuff. It quite frankly creeps me out even thinking about it. Then again, I’m 35-years-old, so maybe it’s about time I start to grow up.

What have you recently been reading?

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

Book Review: Hatch by Kenneth Oppel

Yay, I finally finished Hatch by Kenneth Oppel. I had read Bloom, the first book in the trilogy, last summer and reviewed it here in August. Hatch came out on December 1 I think (although Goodreads says it came out on September 15). I got it off Bookshare the next day. Today I’m finally able to review it.

Summary

Fans left desperate for more at the end of Bloom will dive into this second book of the Overthrow trilogy–where the danger mounts and alien creatures begin to hatch. First the rain brought seeds. Seeds that grew into alien plants that burrowed and strangled and fed. Seth, Anaya, and Petra are strangely immune to the plants’ toxins and found a way to combat them. But just as they have their first success, the rain begins again. This rain brings eggs. That hatch into insects. Not small insects. Bird-sized mosquitos that carry disease. Borer worms that can eat through the foundation of a house. Boat-sized water striders that carry away their prey. But our heroes aren’t able to help this time–they’ve been locked away in a government lab with other kids who are also immune. What is their secret? Could they be… part alien themselves? Whose side are they on? Kenneth Oppel expertly escalates the threats and ratchets up the tension in this can’t-read-it-fast-enough adventure with an alien twist. Readers will be gasping for the next book as soon as they turn the last page…

My Review

I truly loved the first half or so of the book. It shows how Anaya, Petra and Seth try to survive whilst being locked up in a government lab and cruelly experimented on by the military. I didn’t care that they were part alien themselves. In fact, just like while reading Bloom, I mostly just cared about the main characters’ wellbeing and was hardly touched by the rest of the world being harmed by the alien insects. I think that’s a true positive about this series, that it paints the characters so well that I truly empathize with them.

Then, around 65% into the book, it got a bit boring. I was convinced I’d neared the end of the story only to find out from my app that I was only at two-thirds or so. By around 80%, the story got more fast-paced again and I truly raced through those last pages.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but I do need to say it was not what I’d expected. Though I do really want to know more, the ending of this book was a bit of a disappointment.

I ended up rating this book four out of five stars because of its not so fast-paced bits in the middle and its ending.

Book Details

Title: Hatch (The Overthrow, #2)
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date: December 1, 2020

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: Bloom by Kenneth Oppel

I hardly ever read science fiction or fantasy. In fact, the only science fiction novel I can remember having read is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at age twelve. I only read the first book in that series and was maybe a little too young to understand all the humor. After that, I literally only read realistic fiction or non-fiction. That is until a few months ago I decided to broaden my reading horizons and downloaded a couple of SciFi and fantasy novels off Bookshare. The blurb for Bloom particularly appealed to me, but I didn’t get to read it till last week.

Summary

The first book in a can’t-put-it-down, can’t-read-it-fast-enough action-thriller trilogy that’s part Hatchet, part Little Shop of Horrors!

The invasion begins–but not as you’d expect. It begins with rain. Rain that carries seeds. Seeds that sprout–overnight, everywhere. These new plants take over crop fields, twine up houses, and burrow below streets. They bloom–and release toxic pollens. They bloom–and form Venus flytrap-like pods that swallow animals and people. They bloom–everywhere, unstoppable.

Or are they? Three kids on a remote island seem immune to the toxic plants. Anaya, Petra, Seth. They each have strange allergies–and yet not to these plants. What’s their secret? Can they somehow be the key to beating back this invasion? They’d better figure it out fast, because it’s starting to rain again… 

My Review

I was pretty easily drawn into the story. To be honest, the plot is already mostly summed up by the blurb, but the details were what made this amazing. I really wanted to find out what made Anaya, Petra and Seth special, both in terms of their everyday allergies and their apparent immunity to the invasive plants.

The story is told alternatingly from each of these three characters. That way, I learned not only about their special characteristics but about them in more depth. These characters are all very well-developed. I also learned about their mutual relations.

The story itself didn’t have many twists and turns that I couldn’t see coming, but I liked it nonetheless. After all, the details were all very well written out.

This book really got me interested in science fiction. The world building isn’t overly strange, but still fascinating. I am fascinated with and scared of toxic plants at the same time, so this was a really great story. I can’t wait for the sequel to come out next month.

Book Details

Title: Bloom (The Overthrow, #1)
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 10, 2020

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?

Book Review: Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

Hi all, how are you doing? It’s still really hot out here. So hot that I can’t go outside at all and I lie in bed a lot during the day. At night, when it’s slightly cooler, I sit at my desk reading.

I started reading Heroine by Mindy McGinnis already quite some months ago. On Thursday, I finally finished it, but I didn’t feel like writing a review yet. Now I am basically forcing myself to write a review, as otherwise I’ll never get to it.

Summary

An Amazon Best Book of the Month! A captivating and powerful exploration of the opioid crisis—the deadliest drug epidemic in American history—through the eyes of a college-bound softball star. Edgar Award-winning author Mindy McGinnis delivers a visceral and necessary novel about addiction, family, friendship, and hope.

When a car crash sidelines Mickey just before softball season, she has to find a way to hold on to her spot as the catcher for a team expected to make a historic tournament run. Behind the plate is the only place she’s ever felt comfortable, and the painkillers she’s been prescribed can help her get there.

The pills do more than take away pain; they make her feel good.

With a new circle of friends—fellow injured athletes, others with just time to kill—Mickey finds peaceful acceptance, and people with whom words come easily, even if it is just the pills loosening her tongue.

But as the pressure to be Mickey Catalan heightens, her need increases, and it becomes less about pain and more about want, something that could send her spiraling out of control.

My Review

The prologue was very gripping and I was immediately sucked into the story. However, as the chapters progressed, I felt increasingly bored at first. That’s why I didn’t make it beyond 35% when first starting on this book. Other books just seemed far more interesting. When I finally forced myself to go beyond this point last week, the book did capture my attention again.

The story is told entirely from Mickey’s perspective. That’s why, despite knowing that she makes a ton of horribly irresponsible choices, I couldn’t keep from rooting for her. I always seemed to support her and hoped that nothing bad was going to happen to her. I even at some point hoped no-one would find out about Mickey’s addiction, because that’d mean the end to her softball career.

To be honest, I felt the other characters were a little flat. However, that only got me to see things more from Mickey’s point of view.

The writing style was a little cringe-worthy at times. I cannot quite put my finger to why. I think one reason is that there are a lot of long, complex sentences in the story that I found a little hard to follow.

Overall though, this book was definitely worth my read. I gave it a four-star rating on Goodreads.

Book Details

Title: Heroine
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: March 12, 2019

Read With Me

Children’s Books With Colors in Their Titles

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (#TTT) is all about books with colors in their title. Wow, this challenge is hard! I could off the top of my head think of four books, then thought of another, but then I was stuck. So to give me some inspiration, I decided to search Bookshare. When I typed the first color, “green”, into the search box, already several hundreds of titles popped up even when I kept the search to children’s literature. In this list, you’ll find some kidlit books (from picture books to YA) with colors in their titles that I think may be worth a read.

1. The Green Children of Woolpit by J. Anderson Coats. This is a fantasy children’s book based on a classic British legend. I don’t usually read fantasy, but this one sounds particularly interesting.

2. Blue Daisy by Helen Frost. This is a children’s book about two children who find a dog in their neighborhood and grow to love it, but will the dog love them back?

3. Blue Skies by Anne Bustard. This sounds like such a fascinating middle grade novel. I don’t normally read books not set in the current time, but this one sounds great.

4. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. This was one of the books I already had in mind. I really want to read this YA novel. Too bad I am already reading several books now.

5. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. This one is also already on my TBR. In fact, I started listening to it as an audiobook on Scribd some months ago, but then stopped because I didn’t like the narrator’s voice.

6. Yellow Flag by Robert Lipsyte. I am absolutely clueless about racing, but this book sounds interesting.

7. The Doll With the Yellow Star by Yona Zeldis Mcdonough and Kimberly Bulcken Root. Another story centered around World War II, but it definitely sounds intriguing to me.

8. Red, Yellow, Blue (and a Dash of White, Too!) by Charles George Esperanza. This sounds like such a funny yet educational book for young children. It’s all about mixing colors and what this can achieve. I’m sad that I won’t be able to see the illustrations.

9. Silver Spurs by Miralee Ferrell. As a former horseback rider, I still love stories about horse girls. This one sounds truly endearing.

10. Silverlicious by Victoria Kann. This sounds like such an endearing read for young children. When Pinkalicious loses her sweet tooth, she writes to the tooth fairy to get it back. I sense that she’ll learn a valuable lesson.

Now I realize that most of these, I may not actually read. Still, I hope some of my readers will find these interesting for their children or students.

What books with colors in their titles do you like?

Reading Wrap-Up (August 3, 2020) #IMWAYR

It’s been forever since I last did a reading wrap-up. I always felt I didn’t have enough to share, since I don’t finish many books fast enough for my liking. Today though, I’m loving a good book and am wanting to share with you what I’m reading. I’m linking up with #IMWAYR.

What I’m Currently Reading

I love reading many books at the same time. This does mean I hardly get to finish anything. For example, I’m still reading Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott. Now that I’m over 30% done with it, it does start to feel like a book I’ll like.

I also yesterday decided to pick up Heroine by Mindy McGinnis again after having let it lay there for months.

Lastly, I seem to have totally gotten into foster care memoirs again, so I finally decided to start reading Too Scared to Tell by Cathy Glass. I was somehow convinced it’d be her last ever foster care memoir, but then I learned that some new ones are coming out, so I didn’t feel as bad about reading this one. Now I must admit I haven’t read many of her older memoirs either, so even if this one were her last, I’d still have a lot to read.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Last week, I picked up a picture book called ABC of Feelings for my inner children. It was sad that we couldn’t see the pictures, as I’m blind, but the words were also good.

Then yesterday I finished Who Will Love Me Now?, a Maggie Hartley foster care memoir, after only having started on it earlier that week. See my review.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

The thing with me is that I always have an eye on too many books that I won’t be able to read even if I devoted the entire day to reading. I have a ton of middle grade and YA novels on my TBR still, but I also want to read some adult novels. I’m not sure what I’ll be reading next.

Reading Goals

Since it’s the beginning of the month, why not set some reading goals? I’ve always wanted to participate in a readathon, but I always see them when they’re already happening. I think I may want to participate in one this month though. Feel free to drop your recommendations in the comments.

Other than that, I just hope this month will be a pleasant reading one. I beat Apple’s default reading goal by having read my fourth book off Apple Books this year. I read most of my books in other apps, so it isn’t as lame an achievement as it sounds.

What are you reading?