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: Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart

I first heard of Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart (Goodreads) in the summer, when I was reading a lot. I couldn’t wait for the book to be released in October. However, when it was finally released, it took me a few weeks contemplating how to get ahold of the book before deciding to check if it was on Bookshare, the U.S.-based accessible book service. It was! I downloaded it and started to read it immediately.

Synopsis

Everyone has scars. Some are just easier to see … 16-year-old Ava Lee is heading back to school one year after a house fire left her severely disfigured. She’s used to the names, the stares, the discomfort, but there’s one name she hates most of all: Survivor. What do you call someone who didn’t mean to survive? Who sometimes wishes she hadn’t? When she meets a fellow survivor named Piper at therapy, Ava begins to feel like she’s not facing the nightmare alone. Piper helps Ava reclaim the pieces of Ava Before the Fire, a normal girl who kissed boys and sang on stage. But Piper is fighting her own battle, and when Ava almost loses her best friend, she must decide if the new normal she’s chasing has more to do with the girl in the mirror — or the people by her side. The beautiful, life-affirming debut from Erin Stewart that’s being called the YA answer to Wonder. Perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, Nicola Yoon and John Green. “A heartfelt and unflinching look at the reality of being a burn survivor and at the scars we all carry. This book is for everyone, burned or not, who has ever searched for a light in the darkness.” – Stephanie Nielson, New York Times bestselling author of HEAVEN IS HERE and a burn survivor

My Review

I loved this book! The reason it took me longer to finish than I’d expected, had very little to do with the book. I mean, yes, the book is 352 pages, which is pretty much the most I can handle for a read that doesn’t take me forever. I’m just a slow reader.

The book isn’t as much of a page-turner as some other books I read, but that’s because it’s not a thriller or suspense novel. I loved the way this book meandered. What I mean by this is, there are a lot of plot twists, but they’re not breath-taking except for a few.

I found Ava to be a really relatable character. I mean, I’m not a burn survivor, but I did stick out like a sore thumb in high school and felt like making myself invisible. Piper should definitely be on my list of characters I’d wish were my best friends. And for those who’ve read the book and wonder, yes, I’d stick by her no matter what, just like Ava does.

I loved how well-developed each character was. This is definitely not a fast-moving book, but it’s one in which you’ll really get to know the characters. I like that.

I’ve previously read books where I thought the story should’ve ended a few pages before it did. The best example I can give is Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult, in which Willow dies at the end and it’s a true disappointment. In other books, the end drags on too long or is too thrilling even with a good outcome. This one was just right in the middle in that respect. I loved it.

Book Details

Title: Scars Like Wings
Author: Erin Stewart
Publisher: Delacorte
Publication Date: October 3, 2019

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Eight Ways in Which My Reading Life Has Changed Over the Years

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is all about ways you have changed, particularly as a reader, over the years. I am not a book blogger, since posts about books make up not even ten percent of my total posts. I don’t read nearly enough to be a book blogger. This may be one reason I haven’t participated in #TTT for a while. However, I loved this week’s theme. Here are some ways in which my reading life has changed over the years.

1. I read because I want to, not because I have to. As a child and teen, I didn’t like reading much. Especially not the assigned literature we were supposed to read for school. For this reason, in my young adult life, I didn’t read much at all. Over the years though, I discovered a love of reading and now read for pleasure. Sometimes I still feel like I have to finish a book, but then it’s me creating the pressure.

2. I read almost exclusively English-language books. The book famine, ie. the lack of accessible books to people who are blind or otherwise print disabled, is still pretty severe in Dutch-language literature. In English, almost every book I want to read is available in an accessible format nowadays. This is one reason I enjoy reading books in English far more than in Dutch.

Another is the fact that I blog in English and, to be honest, I don’t do much in life (except for peeing and sleeping and eating) without some motivation related to my blog. I love to venture out into the bookish blogosphere at times.

3. The way in which I read, has changed. As a child, I almost exclusively read audiobooks. Oh and the occasional large print book suited for children much younger than me, because with how poor my vision was, ordinary large print was too small for me. I hated reading Braille, so unless I was forced to, I didn’t touch a Braille book.

Now I read almost exclusively by touch. I recently bought a few audiobooks, but to be honest am quite a bit disappointed in the narrators.

4. I discovered eBooks. As a teen, I read books my parents scanned for me. Then I didn’t read much at all as a young adult. In 2013, I found out that Adobe Digital Editions, the main program at the time to read EPUB eBooks, had been made compatible with screen readers. I read EPUB from then on, although I no longer use Adobe Digital Editions. I use the iPhone’s book app instead.

5. I joined Bookshare. Bookshare is the U.S.-based online book service for the print disabled. In 2005 and 2006, when I first started reading English-language books for pleasure, I was a member of the UK’s National Library for the Blind. I for a short while read physical Braille books then. That didn’t work out due to shipping issues. Bookshare, though it existed back then, wasn’t available to international customers at the time. It became available to those outside of the U.S. sometime around 2015. I joined Bookshare in mid-2016.

6. I found out about Kindle. That’s another eBook format that didn’t use to be very accessible. Back in like 2015, there was the accessibility add-on to Kindle software, which would read the content of the book aloud. Like I said, I’m not a fan of audiobooks and I’m certainly not a fan of the robotic-sounding voice of the Kindle accessibility add-on. Sometime in 2018, I found out that the Kindle app for iPhone, and to a lesser degree Kindle for PC, now support screenreaders and most importantly Braille displays. I still don’t buy Kindle books very often, as Bookshare has a wide selection of books too, but I know that if I really want to read a book, I can.

7. A larger percentage of the books I read is fiction. Roughly ten years ago, I only read a bit of teen fiction and mostly read biographies and other nonfiction. Now about half of the books I read and the majority of the books I finish are fiction.

8. I read a wider variety of books. Though most of the fiction I read still belongs in the young adult category, over the past few years I’ve ventured out into other genres as well. I love reading a diverse selection of books now.

How has your reading life changed over the years?

November 2019 To-Be-Read List

I haven’t read that much in the past few months, but this week, I’m enjoying reading again. I discovered a To-Be-Read list linky, so am linking up there. I still have a huge pile of books I’d like to read or am reading but haven’t finished. Here are a few I’m planning on reading this month.

1. Matilda by Roald Dahl. I think I said before that I read it a ton of times in Dutch as a child, but now I’d like to read it in English. I’m choosing the audiobook version narrated by Kate Winslet.

2. Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart. This one has been on the list of books I can’t wait to read for months. It was published last month and I fully intended on buying it on Kindle as soon as it came out. That didn’t work though, as I don’t have my husband’s current credit card details in my account yet. Just now, I had the amazing idea of checking whether the book is on Bookshare before I buy it once I do have my husband’s payment details. And guess what? It is! This sounds like such an amazing book.

3. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. I started this one a few months ago, but never got beyond the first chapter. Not because I didn’t like it, but because other activities got in the way of my actually reading.

4. Unthinkable by Helen Thomson. This month is somehow dedicated to nonfiction. I love the topic of this book. As you can see, medicine is my thing.

This is another book I’m partway through already. I really want to read some new stuff too, but can’t think of any right now. I mean, of course, I have a huge TBR pile, but I don’t want to up the pressure by forcing myself to read more than I comfortably can.

5. Preemie Voices by Saroj Saigal. This is a collection of letters from people born very prematurely in the late 1970s to early 1980s. They share their experiences and advice for parents of currrent day preemies. I was a preemie too, slightly younger but now at the average age the preemies in this book were when they wrote the letters. I feel there’s a lot I can relate to in this book. Even more than when I started reading it some five years ago when it was published.

What’s on your to-be-read list for this month?

#IWSG: Writing Without Reading?

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) day. This months’ optional question is about your thoughts re whether reading is required for writing.

In August, I did a good amount of both reading and writing. In September, my reading went almost entirely out the window and I also wrote far less than I intended. However, I still managed to write at least one blog post each week.

To answer the question, for fiction writing, I think reading is essential. Of course, this means your writing is a mixture of your own ideas and someone else’s, but a good fiction writer (which I’m not) can write imaginatively enough to appeal to readers looking for an original viewpoint. My own fiction writing has always bordered on plagiarism, if it wasn’t actually plagiarism.

For non-fiction, I tend to think that original viewpoints are good, but they require some level of familiarity. I have read blogs where the author’s words were so jumbled that I couldn’t make sense of them. I also happen to love personal essays or blog posts I can relate to.

I for one love both reading and writing prompted pieces. I like to read about other people’s original perspecctives on a common theme. For this, reading is essential for writing. Even so, I don’t tend to read others’ responses to prompts I participate in before posting my own. So well, there are two sides to this story and the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

Recent Reads (August 2019)

I discovered the It’s Monday? What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) linky a few weeks ago. I was at the time reading a lot, but not enough to make this a weekly theme, so instead, I chose to participate the last Monday of the month with my monthly reads. I was hoping they’d be more than a few, but no such luck.

I read only three books in the past month. That still is more than my average, I think. I did start a couple of other books, but didn’t get far enough into them to judge them.

First, I read Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I was inspired to read it by a fellow blogger who confessed she hadn’t read Rainbow Rowell. Neither had I, even though Fangirl has been on my to-be-read list for years. I chose to read Attachments first though, because it seemed more geared towards my age group. Then again, at times I really love young adult fiction, so I don’t really know what I was thinking. The book definitely didn’t disappoint. Occasionally, it dragged on a little, but for the most part, it was hilarious.

Then I read Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler. This was the polar opposite of Attachments. Not hilarious at all and it definitely didn’t drag on. It was a true page-turner. I wrote a review about two weeks ago.

Then I didn’t read much for the next two weeks. I managed to finish one book, Angels in Our Hearts by Rosie Lewis and Casey Watson. This is a collection of moving short foster care memoirs. They definitely didn’t disappoint either, though I took some time to finish the book. I had never read anything by Rosie Lewis but had enjoyed reading Casey Watson for years.

For this reason, I decided to buy another book by Casey Watson, A Boy Without Hope as an audiobook. I had intended to read it in the ParaTransit bus to and from day activities, but the narrator’s voice is hard to understand and pretty much impossible to decipher in noisy environments. It was my first-ever English-language audiobook and will most likely not be followed by many more.

Next on my reading list is The Fault in Our Stars. It’s been on my TBR list forever and I was originally hoping I could finish it before today. Well, I’m not nearly finished, but I assume I will be next month.

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

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#IWSG: Writing About Myself

Yay, it’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to come together and share our writing journey. This past month has been better than the month of May. I wrote twice as many blog posts and have generally been feeling more motivated to write.

I still want to be more courageous and creative with my writing. I have been able to venture somewhat out of my comfort zone with a few stream of consciousness writings. I would still love to try my hand at poetry and flash fiction again, but am too insecure right now.

The optional question for this month’s #IWSG day is about incorporating aspects of yourself into your characters. Since I no longer write fiction and almost all my writings are about myself, this question may seem off.

However, when I still wrote fiction regularly, this question was very applicable. Not only did I incorporate a lot of aspects of myself into my characters, but the other way around too. Let me explain.

As regular readers of my blog might know, I have (currently undiagnosed) dissociative identity disorder (DID). This used to be known as multiple personality disorder. People with DID have at least two separate identities or personality states, each with their own unique way of perceiving and relating to the world.

DID usually first develops in early childhood as a result of prolonged trauma, but people who dissociated early on, often continue to do so during times of stress into adolescence and adulthood. For me, the time of my most serious dissociation was adolescence. This was also the time I wrote fiction the most. I incorporated a lot of aspects of myself into my characters. Often, my characters were blind or, if they weren’t, they faced some other challenge that set them apart. Most characters had difficulty making friends like myself. The main character in the story I got the farthest with, didn’t have a disability, but her mother had multiple sclerosis.

I often used writing as an escape from reality. As such, with my dissociative tendencies, some of my characters developed into alters. These are called fictives. One of them is now one of the main fronters (personalities presenting themselves to the outside world). She was in a way deliberately created. At least, the character was. I had difficulty explaining myself and my struggles to my parents and teachers, so my high school tutor allowed me to express myself through fiction. That’s how Kirsten came about. Kirsten is blind and has many of the struggles I do. Currently, we present as her when we can’t show the world that we have DID but we’re feeling very much split anyway.