Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Monday, May 14, 2018

Grief, a process

They say grief comes in waves, and it's absolutely true. Grief can be overwhelming, all consuming and exhausting. As I go through this process of adjusting to life without my Mom, grief has really surprised me in many ways. I thought I would share my journey so far.

The sheer panic that I felt in the days after my mother passed was very surprising to me. This wasn't "oh, I'm sad" it was panic, absolutely panic about never being able to see my Mom again. I would have to switch my mind as fast as possible because I didn't think I could deal with that emotion. It would wash over me, and it felt crippling. I felt like I couldn't breath. I knew I couldn't stay in that state of mind, or it would take over. The trauma of the hospital is something I'm still not over. Over the course of a few days, my Mother completely changed. Her pallor changed, her body changed and I will never forget how her hands felt when I held them. The machines were terrifying but her body shutting down was also physical and I could see those changes. I still get flashbacks of being in the hospital room. I never thought I could stay in the room when they shut the machines off, but I did. I'm proud that I did, and in that moment I wasn't scared. I'm not a stronger person because I did that, I just felt that I needed to do it and I did.

In the first couple of weeks, I felt like my Mom had to occupy my mind every single minute of the day. If I was doing something and remembered, I felt guilty that she wasn't on my mind. If I had a decent day, it was "bad." I've been coming to terms with this and I've gotten better, but that guilt was not something that I expected.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez (Book Review)

Goodreads Descriptions:

Scarborough is a low-income, culturally diverse neighborhood east of Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America; like many inner city communities, it suffers under the weight of poverty, drugs, crime, and urban blight. Scarborough the novel employs a multitude of voices to tell the story of a tight-knit neighborhood under fire: among them, Victor, a black artist harassed by the police; Winsum, a West Indian restaurant owner struggling to keep it together; and Hina, a Muslim school worker who witnesses first-hand the impact of poverty on education.

And then there are the three kids who work to rise above a system that consistently fails them: Bing, a gay Filipino boy who lives under the shadow of his father's mental illness; Sylvie, Bing's best friend, a Native girl whose family struggles to find a permanent home to live in; and Laura, whose history of neglect by her mother is destined to repeat itself with her father.

Scarborough offers a raw yet empathetic glimpse into a troubled community that locates its dignity in unexpected places: a neighborhood that refuses to be undone.

My Thoughts:

After I lost my Mom, books couldn't hold my attention. My mind was all over the place and I needed to find something that I could read. Reading is my "self care," it's how I unwind and take time for myself. Scarborough was the book that captured my attention. This is a book that will open your eyes and force you too look around and see people in a different light.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Picking Up a Book During a Difficult Time + Stephanie Plum (Turbo Twenty Three)

If you're  book lover, you can probably look at a favorite book and picture the time and place where you read it. Since my Mom went into the hospital, I haven't been able to read. After my Mom passed, I thought I wanted to read a really sad book and I picked up a book that dealt with grief, but that didn't work for me. I let it go, and one day I saw Turbo Twenty-Three and was immediately brought back to when I loved these Stephanie Plum books. I flashed back to living with my parents, getting the new release and sitting in the living room devouring these books. I can picture the chair, the blanket and it felt very comforting. Over the course of a few days, I finished this book and was happy that I got through a book. Reading is how I relax and it felt good to close the book.

It's been 4 weeks since my Mom passed, and I can't say that it has gotten easier. Every single day is hard. The first few weeks, I would feel panicked when I thought about my Mom gone. I still feel like that some days. I still get angry, confused and frustrated. I still can't believe that she is just gone. I've realized that I need to just let myself go through these emotions. It's not a matter of one day you feel better, it's all about adjusting and taking it one day at a time.

Last week was really hard, my in laws went back home. As soon as they heard about my Mom, they came to stay with us. They stayed with us for 3 weeks. My Dad went back to work and it felt like "this is our new routine." I was so, so sad. Last week, I turned 33, and my wedding anniversary was the next day. I couldn't help but think, this is the 3rd event my Mom has already missed. Picking up this book was comforting, and it helped get through the week.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Heart to Heart: Losing My Mom

I'm learning to navigate this world without my Mom. In February, my Mom was admitted to the hospital for pains in her arm. 5 years ago she had a valve replacement, and we knew the valve wasn't working as it should. What we didn't realize was how sick my Mom really was. We were told that she would need to undergo another valve replacement and a bypass. She was in the hospital for 3 weeks before her surgeon was available to operate. The operation took 10 hours, and when her surgeon came out to speak with us, we knew she would either not survive or have a very long recovery.  Unfortunately, my Mom passed on March 19th.

My world came crashing down, the fear in the hospital- I wouldn't wish on anyone. It was so terrifying to go to her room and hear more bad news. The good news sounded really good, and the bad news sounded really bad. She was on a ventilator and sedated, those machines were terrifying. from Friday to Monday, I felt my Mom slip away and I knew it wasn't her choice. She would choose to stay with us, if she could. It was scary to be given a little bit of hope and have it ripped away shortly after. I worry about how aware she was, how scared she was, and how much pain she was in. All of those things, I will never know. She did open her eyes once when I was in the room, and I told her how great she was doing. I hope she knew how proud of her I was. She was a fighter, but this fight was too much for her.

I saw my Mom every single day, and now I don't know how I'm going to keep going. I know I will, I know I have to, but it's scary and I wish I didn't have to learn to adjust to life without her. I'm trying to be strong, and I have a great support system but it still doesn't feel real. Life doesn't feel right. How can my Mom just be gone? It doesn't feel fair, and I get really angry. My faith has really taken a hit, because now I know God doesn't have to listen to my prayers. My Mom lost her Mom at a young age, and it was something that bothered her for her entire life. I know that feeling now. It's a physical hurt, an emptiness. I feel like I'm too young to lose my Mom, I didn't picture losing her in my early 30's. I still needed her. My son is only 4 years old.

Losing my Mom has made me so afraid that I could lose someone else. It has made me angry that the days still come and go. When I have a decent day, I feel guilty because I got through that day so easily. Grief comes in waves. I feel like most days, I'm just pretending that I'm "okay" and I keep pretending to get through the day. It's hard and we need to take it one day at a time. I keep reminding myself that it hurts this much because my Mom was such a good Mom.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Book Review: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline (Canada Reads 2018)

Rating: 5/5
Source: Personal Copy
Publisher: Dancing Cat Books
Released: 2017
Pages: 231

Goodreads Description:

In a futuristic world ravaged by global warming, people have lost the ability to dream, and the dreamlessness has led to widespread madness. The only people still able to dream are North America's Indigenous people, and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world. But getting the marrow, and dreams, means death for the unwilling donors. Driven to flight, a fifteen-year-old and his companions struggle for survival, attempt to reunite with loved ones and take refuge from the "recruiters" who seek them out to bring them to the marrow-stealing "factories."


I picked up The Marrow Thieves because it was short listed for Canada Reads 2018. I was really happy to see an Indigenous book in the selections. I've read alot of books by Native American writers but this was my first Young Adult/Dystopian/Indigenous read. I wasn't sure what I would think about it, but I went in with no expectations. I haven't been reading alot of Young Adult books lately because I don't seem to relate to them and was hesitant about this book. As I started to read this book, I was really drawn into the concept and world. Climate change has wreaked havoc on the world, and people in North American have lost the ability to dream which has led to madness. When it is discovered that Indigenous people are the only ones who still have the ability to dream, they're hunted down. Their bone marrow is harvested and used to cure those who are dreamless. It's clear that Indigenous people are not considered human, they're a commodity, they're objects- used to benefit others.

When Frenchie's brother gives up to save him, Frenchie is left all alone. He's vulnerable and lonely. We really start to see how dire the situation is. Even when Frenchie meets up with others, trust is a big issue. We see loss of language, loss of culture but we also see survival and resistance. The characters in this novel can easily appeal to a larger audience and I think it does a great job making these characters relatable. Alot of Indigenous reads can feel very "in your face" and threatening, where I feel like this story is different. It's not so harsh and heavy, and will keep people reading. The dystopian setting is a great technique to open readers minds. I think this book will do well in the Canada Reads debates. The theme this year is "One Book To Open Your Eyes" and I think this book fits the theme very well. We need to get people talking about Indigenous issues, and in 2018 it's more important than ever. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Book Haul and Books Read (Precious Cargo, The Ever After, Shrewed, Laura & Emma)

Book Haul (Precious Cargo, The Ever After, Shrewed, Laura & Emma)

Welcome to Mailbox Monday/Stacking the Shelves. I'm happy to be sharing my new books. This Mailbox Monday was started by Marcia and hosted here. Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Last week, I didn't pick up too many books but I am excited about the books that did come into my house. These are all eBooks, since I mostly read on my Kobo. I purchased one book, and the three others are digital advanced reading copies.


Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson

Advanced Reading Copies

The Ever After by Sarah Pekkanen
Shrewed by Elizabeth Renzetti
Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead

I read two books, and started a third.

Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: Still Life by Louise Penny

Review: Still Life by Louise Penny
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Released: 2005
Pages: 293
Source: Personal Book
Rating: 3/5 Stars

Goodreads Description:

Winner of the New Blood Dagger, Arthur Ellis, Barry, Anthony, and Dilys awards.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it's a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

With this award-winning first novel, Louise Penny introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces--and this series--with power, ingenuity, and charm.

My Thoughts:

I had high expectations going into this read, and I was left disappointed. The story started off strong with the death of Jane Neal, living in a small town every one is shocked and wanting to figure out what happened. Three Pines was a wonder setting, I love reading about small towns. Since it does take place not far from where I live, I was all the more interested and connected with the story. It started to fall apart towards the middle, when the pace slowed down. 

Inspector Gamache really helped hold the story together for me, and he is the reason why I would try this next book in this series. The death of Jane puts the whole town under the spotlight because they live in such a small community. There's lots of misleading clues that leaves the reader guessing and trying to pieces together what happened. Initially, the hunting community was thought to have killed Jane accidentally which I thought was plausible. However, the hunters kept getting back handed comments because they were hunters. That's was frustrating to me, because hunting is a huge part of my family. It in no way makes you a bad or heartless person, it's a tradition and a source of food. It's not a reflection of you as a person. Then, I read comments about the French and English and how a "french" person would never do this or that. I've lived in Quebec my whole life, and that annoyed me to no end. The story continued to fall apart for me. I don't feel like the differences between English and French have to cement that the story takes place in Quebec. It felt forced.

Overall, the mystery was good. I stayed engaged and wanted to figure out what happened. Inspector Gamache was a great characters, and I loved Tree Pines. I would hope the second book is more faster paced. The parts that annoyed me, probably wouldn't annoy others but they really distracted me and took away from the story. I will try the second book, and hopefully it will work out for me. I've heard such positive things about this series, I really went in with alot of expectations.