Book Characters I’d Like to Be Best Friends With

I first discovered Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly book-related linky hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl, a few weeks ago, but didn’t feel like joining in then yet. Today, the theme is book characters I’d like to be best friends with. There are a ton of lovely characters in the books I’ve read. Of course for the YA books, let’s assume I’m at a similar age to the characters.

1. Jasmine from Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton. I can relate to Megan very much and would love to have had a best friend like Jasmine when I was her age.

2. Beth and Jennifer from Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I just recently read this book and the characters are totally hilarious.

3. Katie from Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova. She’s in a lot of ways similar to me. I bet she could teach me some proper yoga.

4. Caleb from Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern. He’s so totally funny. He also sounds very caring and like he’ll do a lot for a friend.

5. Piper Reece from Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult. At least I’d be a lot more loyalthan Charlotte is. Then again, that’d destroy the storyline.

6. Mellie Baker from And She Was by Jessica Verdi. Someone I’d love to get to know beyond her gender identity.

7. Kate from My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I love her fighting spirit and her supporting Anna even if it may mean she’ll die.

8. Sophia from Believarexic by J.J. Johnson. I could also imagine myself befriending Jennifer herself, but I relate more to Sophia.

9. Alex Taylor from Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler. I can totally imagine myself being the only one to stand by her side, having myself often been accused of making up stuff for attention. Yes, even if it could cost me my life even earlier in the story than it did Fiona’s.

10. Allie Johnston from A Different Me by Deborah Blumenthal. I was going to choose a different character from that book, but I forgot his name. I’d want to get to know Ally too. She does sound a bit vain and not just because of her body dysmorphia, but I’m pretty sure we have some things in common.

What characters from books you’ve read would you like to befriend?

Book Review: Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

Like I said before, I’m really enjoying reading a lot lately. I had a number of books on my TBR list for a while, but hadn’t gotten down to actually reading them. Now I found the time and energy to read. Some of the books I’ve been reading, have been out for many years, so I won’t bore you with a review. Though Don’t Wake Up was published two years ago already, I still think it’s worth reviewing.

Synopsis

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.
The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.
The offer he makes her is utterly unspeakable.
But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.
And then she meets the next victim.
So compulsive you can’t stop reading.
So chilling you won’t stop talking about it.
A pitch-black and devastatingly original psychological thriller.

My Review

This was actually the first-ever thriller I read, because the genre normally scares the crap out of me. This one, however, was so compelling I just had to check it out. And I must say, I wasn’t disappointed. Yes, the plot was very scary at times, but it also kept me wanting to read on.

The synopsis above only covers the first 25% of the book or so, so I wasn’t sure it’d be interesting enough to read on beyond that. But it was.

One of the reasons that I didn’t before like reading thrillers, is that I don’t like bad endings, in which the main character dies for no apparent reason at the last page. In this sense, Don’t Wake Up definitely didn’t disappoint. Of course, bad stuff happens to people in the book – several people die in it -, but the book didn’t make me feel sick to my stomach at the end.

The characters were really well-developed. The book is mostly written from Alex’s point of view, but several other characters get a viewpoint too. This was necessary to keep the thriller effect. I liked it.

Overall, I really loved this book and it has me longing for more thrillers. I just searched for Liz Lawler on GoodReads and found she had another book published earlier this year. I’m definitely going to want to read that one too.

Book Details

Title: Don’t Wake Up
Author: Liz Lawler
Publisher: Twenty7
Publication Date: May 18, 2017

Read With Me

20 Questions Book Tag

I found the 20 Questions Book Tag when searching for interesting tags to fill out. I am not that much of a bookaholic, but I love to read a good book every once in a while. And I love talking books!

1. HOW MANY BOOKS ARE TOO MANY FOR A SERIES?
Two. I don’t like reading book series.

2. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT CLIFFHANGERS?
Love to hate them. I always get pretty tense when I find one, but they do keep abook interesting.

3. HARDCOVER OR PAPERBACK?
Neither, as I am blind. Give me an eBook instead. When I used to scan books to read them, I preferred hardcover.

4. FAVOURITE BOOK?
I don’t have one. There are quite a few that stick with me. My favorite genres are YA social issues books and memoirs.

5. LEAST FAVOURITE BOOK?
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. I had to read it for English in high school, but hated it.

6. LOVE TRIANGLES, YES OR NO?
I don’t mind to read about them, but I don’t really consider them a turn-on book-wise either and I wouldn’t want to be in the middle of one.

7. THE MOST RECENT BOOK YOU COULDN’T FINISH?
The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork. At least, that’s the most recent one I’ve given up on finishing. I tend to take forever to read some books, so I rarely consider a book unfinishable.

8. A BOOK YOU’RE CURRENTLY READING?
Angels in Our Hearts by Rosie Lewis and Casey Watson.

9. LAST BOOK YOU RECOMMENDED TO SOMEONE?
Same as above, although I haven’t actually finished it.

10. OLDEST BOOK YOU’VE READ BY PUBLICATION DATE?
Wuthering Heights, but I read a simplified version in eighth grade. Other than this one, I guess Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which was published in 1932.

11. NEWEST BOOK YOU’VE READ BY PUBLICATION DATE?
I’m not sure. I think it was Finding Stevie by Cathy Glass, which was published in February.

12. FAVOURITE AUTHOR?
If non-fiction/memoir authors count (and I’m deciding they do), Cathy Glass. Otherwise, Lisa Genova or Jodi Picoult.

13. BUYING BOOKS OR BORROWING BOOKS?
Both. I buy books on Amazon and borrow them on Bookshare and in the Dutch library for the blind, although rarely there nowadays.

14. A BOOK YOU DISLIKE THAT EVERYONE SEEMS TO LOVE?
Not anything I’ve actually read, but I can’t imagine I’d like the Harry Potter series. No, I haven’t read any of the books.

15. BOOKMARKS OR DOG EARS?
Bookmarks!

16. A BOOK YOU CAN ALWAYS RE-READ?
I rarely reread books, actually.

17. CAN YOU READ WHILE LISTENING TO MUSIC?
No. I can’t do much while listening to music anyway. I used to be able to though as a teen.

18. ONE POV OR MULTIPLE?
I like both, but the books I’ve most enjoyed have multiple.

19. DO YOU READ A BOOK IN ONE SITTING OR OVER MULTIPLE DAYS?
Always over multiple days. I mean, I’m a slow reader, so I can’t ever physically finish a book in one day.

20. WHO DO YOU TAG?
Carol Anne of Therapy Bits
and Emilia of My Inner MishMash. Others are free to consider themslves tagged.

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: Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

I first heard of Lisa Genova in 2015, when Still Alice was made into a movie. I never saw the movie, but got the book as soon as I could. It sounded intriguing. However, I started the book but never got far into it. I got Left Neglected sometime in 2017, but never finished that either. I still intend to finish both. Then late last year, I heard of Every Note Played. I never even got that book, but it got me interested in checking out Lisa Genova again. This is how I found Inside the O’Briens. I was impressed. I had read a young adult novel called Rules for 50/50 Chances, about a girl whose mother has Huntington’s Disease, a few years back. That book had been grippling and hard to put down. I don’t know what it is about Huntington’s over Alzheimer’s or ALS that drew me to this book. I read this book and this time, I actually finished it. Here are my thoughts.

Synopsis

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

My Review

The book starts off with a rather grippling scene in which then 36-year-old Joe recognizes his mother in himself. Then, the book quickly skips over the next seven years and details Joe’s work as a police officer. As a reader, I got clues that something was amiss from the beginning and kept wondering when Joe would finally see it himself. Of course, I knew the reason from the book synopsis and Joe had probably never heard of Huntington’s. When Joe finally causes a riot control drill to be prolonged due to his inability to stay in line, his friend and coworker gets his wife involved. This is when they finally go to the doctor.

Once Joe finds out he has Huntington’s Disease, his four children face the question of whether to get tested for the gene themselves. They each have a 50/50 chance of having the gene too, in which case they’ll get the disease. I knew as much from Rules for 50/50 Chances, which centered on this chance. It was very intriguing to follow each child’s steps towards accepting their father’s fate and making a choice about knowing or not knowing their own.

Genova chooses to focus her attention on Katie, Joe’s youngest daughter. She is only 21 and as such, not much older than the main character in Rules for 50/50 Chances. However, Inside the O’Briens is clearly a novel intended for adults and not young people. This is clear when reading from Katie’s perspective too. I must say here that I generally prefer young adult to mature fiction, but this was truly a great read. It’s also not really fair to compare this book to a young adult book by a different author when their only similarity is Huntington’s.

I loved the detail with which Genova describes the scenes and her characters. Each character is truly well-rounded in a way I don’t see often. This book is about so much more than Huntington’s. It’s also about police work, because Joe is a police officer. That may’ve been another thing drawing me into this book rather than Genova’s other books: I just so love learning about cops’ lives.

Book Details

Title: Inside the O’Briens
Author: Lisa Genova
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: April 7, 2015

Read With Me

Book Review: And She Was by Jessica Verdi

Man, #JusJoJan is getting nowhere. That is, I’ve been jotting stuff down everyday, but none of it was blog-worthy. I felt a little uninspired. Then, reading a book seemed more interesting than writing a blog post. I chose the book called And She Was by Jessica Verdi. Then, once I finished the book, I wanted to write a review for my blog, but didn’t get round to doing it. Then on Thursday, I fell and suffered a small but painful collarbone fracture. Now it’s Monday and typing with that hand still hurts like crazy, but I so badly want to finally write the review. Here goes.

Synopsis

Dara’s lived a sheltered life with her single mom, Mellie. Now, at eighteen, she’s dreaming of more. When Dara digs up her never-before-seen birth certificate, her world implodes. Why are two strangers listed as her parents?

Dara confronts her mother, and is stunned by what she learns: Mellie is transgender. The unfamiliar name listed under “father”? That’s Mellie. She transitioned when Dara was a baby, after Dara’s birth mother died. She changed her name, started over.

But Dara still has more questions than answers. Reeling, she sets off on an impromptu road trip with her best guy friend, Sam, in tow. She is determined to find the extended family she’s never even met. What she does discover — and what her mother reveals, piece by piece, over emails — will challenge and change Dara more than she can imagine.

This is a gorgeous, timely, and essential novel about the importance of being our true selves. The backmatter includes an author’s note and resources for readers.

My Review

I already started reading this book a month or two ago. It felt a little slow-moving at first. However, once I picked up the book where I left off again last week, it was really good.

At the beginning of the book, you get to empathize mostly with Dara. This may be one reason people consider the book transphobic, since Dara first decides that her mother’s transition is selfish. Throufh Mellie’s E-mails to her though, you get to understand her perspective too. It takes a long time for Dara to understand Mellie’s point of view and, as such, it takes the reader some time too.

All characters in the book are really well-developed. With some, like the Pembrokes – the grandparents Dara meets -, I got an uneasy inkling of what was coming when they were first introduced. Still, their character was really well-painted.

Some people have pointed out that Mellie is constantly misgendered by the Pembrokes and some others. They feel this is negative. It is, of course, but it serves to illustrate these people’s character. Nowhere is the misgendering condoned by Dara.

There weren’t many truly surprising twists and turns in the book, but the plot wasn’t predictable either. Overall, I liked it. I got stuck on some details, like how could a trans person change their legal name without bottom surgery (this is not possible here), but I assume Verdi did her research.

Overall, I really liked the book. I am cisgender, so cannot say for sure whether this book isn’t transphobic. However, even though some characters are, this is probably real life for trans people everyday, sad as it may be.

Book Details

Title: And She Was
Author: Jessica Verdi
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Publication Date: March 27, 2018

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