Ten Days in a Mad-House

Author: Nellie Bly
Published: 1887
92 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

Nellie Bly, posing as “Nellie Brown,” went undercover to investigate the deplorable conditions of insane asylums. Her memoirs of this event form the basis of “Ten Days in a Mad-House,” which forever changed the way the world looks at treatment and housing of the insane.

Kim’s Review:

It’s about time I read a non-fiction book! And I picked a great one! As it says in my bio, I LOVE anything about asylums, mad-houses, or psychiatric hospitals. For some reason, the historian in me geeks out and the little seen horror freak comes out. Don’t ask me why, I’ve tried to explain it, but I can’t, I just love them. In These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly, her main character, Jo Montfort, looks up to Nellie Bly as a journalist and a woman who works for change. That intrigued me, so I found Bly’s account and read it in 24 hours. It was inspiring, maddening, and heart breaking all at once.

Nellie actually faked insanity to be committed to the Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum. That may sound romantic to the rest of us, but during 1887, it was a nightmare. Her assignment was to give an accurate account of the plight of the insane from beginning to end. The thing that annoyed me the most was the commitment process. She saw a couple of doctors who asked her a short list of questions and then declared her a hopeless case of insanity. Though thankfully, they admitted that her pulse and heartbeat didn’t evidence insanity . . . yes that was indeed sarcasm.

Even at Bellevue Hospital, the conditions were primitive, at best. No heat, no extra clothing. The asylum on Blackwell’s Island was even worse. The food was minimum and mostly spoiled. The nurses beat and bullied the patients. But the most surprising thing to me, was the daily activities of the patients. From 6 AM-8 PM, they sat on hard benches, not allowed to talk, to move, to slouch. 14 hours of sitting straight and quiet was their main “treatment”. Anyone would be insane after a couple days of that! Fortunately, Nellie’s story incited a slew of changes in the treatment of the insane in New York State. “The committee of appropriation provides $1,000,000 more than was ever before given, for the benefit of the insane.” So thankfully the most basic of problems were addressed with the publication of this story. But modern day mental health still has way too many problems.

My husband is a Physician Assistant at the Emergency Department so he sees his fair share of insane patients coming through. I always press him about the process that each patient and doctor and policeman have to go through to get someone committed to a psych ward. Sometimes it’s as simple as someone trying to commit suicide or even admitting that they want to. But those people usually only stay for a night. They are then released after consulting psychiatrist. There are other more serious cases that have to go through the court system. As long as one doctor signs off on a commitment order, that patient can be committed to a short term psychiatric facility. When I asked about any long term facilities, Ivan informed me that there are none. The modern mental health system is dependent on pharmaceuticals. When I asked about those patients who won’t take their medication or those for whom medication doesn’t help, he just shrugged. We’ve discussed mental health many times and he always shows such frustration for the current process.

People can still be committed by family members who just can’t be bothered to care for their loved ones or are trying to take advantage of them. There are still people walking the streets who legitimately belong under 24 hour psychiatric supervision. And there are no longer any long term facilities available for those who need them. Sadly, there are still too many changes that need to be made and problems to be fixed. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone in the mental health system and to most medical professionals. Anyone who enjoys history would also enjoy this book.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

It’s a Forks, Knifes and Spoons 1 year celebration!!

Today is a day to celebrate: Forks, Knifes and Spoons by Leah DeCesare was published one year ago!  It’s time for Jessica’s Reading Room to join in on the party!

Buy Forks, Knifes and Spoons NOW:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Description:

There are three kinds of guys: forks, knives, and spoons. That is the final lesson that Amy York’s father sends her off to college with, never suspecting just how far his daughter will take it. Clinging to the Utensil Classification System as her guide, Amy tries to convince her skeptical roommate, Veronica Warren, of its usefulness as they navigate the heartbreaks and soul mates of college and beyond.

Beginning in 1988, their freshman year at Syracuse University, Amy and Veronica meet an assortment of guys—from slotted spoons and shrimp forks to butter knives and sporks—all while trying to learn if the UCS holds true. On the quest to find their perfect steak knives, they learn to believe in themselves—and not to settle in love or life.

If you love or lived during the 1980s then this is the book for you: It might give some of you some of that good feeling: Nostalgia!!


**There will be a giveaway running on my Facebook page through Sunday afternoon** This giveaway will be US only. You can find the link to my Facebook page here.  **If you are following this site, you will have a bonus entry!**

What will you win? A signed book, and fork, knife and spoon necklace and earring set sent by Leah herself!

If you haven’t gotten the book yet, it is on sale this week on Amazon for just $1.99 on Kindle!!!! Grab it now!! 

About the Author:

Leah DeCesare is the award-winning author of Forks, Knives, and Spoons and the nonfiction parenting series Naked Parenting, based on her work as a doula, early parenting educator, and mom of three. Her articles on parenting have been featured in The Huffington Post, Eligible Magazine, Simply Woman, the International Doula, and The Key, among others.

In 2008, she cofounded the nonprofit Doulas of Rhode Island, and in 2013 she spearheaded the Campaign for Hope to build the Kampala Children’s Centre for Hope and Wellness in Uganda.

In a past life, DeCesare worked in public relations and event planning. She now writes, teaches, and volunteers in Rhode Island, where she lives with her family and talking cockatiel.

Contact Leah:
Twitter @LeahDeCesare
Amazon Author Page


The Underachieving Ovary

Author: JT Lawrence
Published: September 29, 2016

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Listened: April 2-8, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

Will there be light at the end of the birth canal?

Does the word ‘endometriosis’ make you want to stick a fork in your eye? No? Then perhaps this book isn’t for you. It’s funny, and (sometimes alarmingly) frank. It contains an impressive array of synonyms for ‘vagina’ and it’s certainly NSFW.

It’s about having a devil womb and a hot knife lodged in my shoulder. It’s about becoming blackly bitter and twisted in my infertility, and then slowly finding a way to untwist myself.

It’s part memoir, part dark comedy, wrapped up loosely as a journal full of TMI and quirk.

Let me put it this way: If Helen Fielding and Marian Keyes were to go through IVF, and use Caitlin Moran as a surrogate, this book would be their baby.

Jessica’s Review:

This is JT Lawrence’s candid memoir dealing with her infertility journey. Ovary is written as a journal and you take every detailed step with Lawrence. This is one that will not be for everyone as she is very direct with her feelings that involve foul language which are raw, gritty, and also at times funny. Through her writing, Lawrence made me feel like I personally know her as I went down this difficult and frustrating path she went through to try to become a Mommy. I had no idea there were so many letters in the alphabet and acronyms for infertility…

This made me understand more of what some of my friends have gone through in their journeys to become parents. You definitely feel the wide range of emotions Lawrence goes through and you are pulling for her to get her wish of becoming a mommy despite all the hurdles that continually pop up.

I had previously purchased the kindle edition, but I was also sent the audible version from the author to listen to.  It is narrated by Jennifer Swanepoel who did a brilliant job. She put all the frankness and emotion that Lawrence wrote into her narration.

Infertility is a difficult issue and if you are going to write about it, then this is a way to do it. Please note that this is not a faith based journey.  For those who have not experienced infertility: READ THIS BOOK!  You will actually learn about infertility and gain some insight as you read.

Ovary should also make you think twice before you ask a couple if they are going to have children:  it is no one else’s business other than the couple.  You never know what they are going through whether it is infertility or other issues.

Bravo JT Lawrence on a memoir that we all need to read.

The Underachieving Ovary is highly recommended. Thank you JT Lawrence for my audible copy!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK