Thursday, October 18, 2018

Spoonie Musings // Guilt and Relationships

Many of you know that I am married and have been with my partner Xin for almost eleven years now (married for almost three). We got together towards the end of our high school years, which meant that Xin has been there for a lot of my spoonie diagnoses, tests, and operations. He is a wonderful partner, a wonderful person in general, and I love him deeply.

And yet, being chronically ill in a relationship is seriously hard sometimes.

I can't work - at least, not in the typical 9 to 5 way, and not really shift-work either (I can do some editing and writing work online but it depends how I am travelling at that point in time - ie. am I having any random flares at the moment?) - so making money is pretty much all up to Xin. He supports me financially, as well as our cat, Peppermint. Money is rough for any spoonie - shelling out the bucks for medications, treatments, surgeries, health insurance (if you're lucky enough to have it), all of it means you are paying some big moolah. I have a very specific diet that I have to follow if I want to remain even slightly healthy, and sometimes that can add up, too. Financials are stressful for any relationship, and then for spoonie relationships it is a whole new thing.

Going on dates is a somewhat difficult topic, too. Some days I can totally manage it - absolutely no worries, having a pretty good day, minimal pain or discomfort, and I can walk unaided. Score! And my stomach is okay with me having tea that day! Double score!
Then there are days when I need assistance - pain levels may be higher, discomfort present, I can't do certain things like see movies because I have a migraine on the way, or I need to make sure that I won't need to walk up loads of stairs or I have access to a cane to assist me. Toilets need to be present - alwayyyys. Just in case. Better safe than sorry. All those random cliche things.

And then... there are days when we have planned for a date and I wake up that day just feeling rubbish. Too sick to get up, heart working way too hard, standing or walking are pretty much off the table. How do you have a decent date when you can barely manage a conversation?

Guilt can rush in really quickly in times like this. And the 'if onlys'. "If only I could work a little bit, or do this thing, or that other thing, then I could make more money and there would be less stress and strain on my partner to bring home money." "I wonder what ways there are for me to make money from home (does the thing and slowly gets burnt out completely and can't even do the dishes anymore)"
"If I hadn't of >insert item eaten, activity done, thought considered here< then I would be able to go on that date today! Dammit." "I wonder if my partner minds that I can't go on dates often - it must be so hard for them, etc. etc. >making assumptions and vastly blowing everything out of proportion without actually asking partner anything<"

You can see how it can kind of get out of control.

Do I have any recommendations here? Honestly, like many spoonie conditions, I don't think there is a solve-all pill here. There is no instant cure or 'if you just remember this one step everything will be fine!' amazing result. No, this is always going to be hard - it always has been, in my experience. But I have a couple of things that I would like to suggest (and have written down so I can refer to it myself, because yeesh I forget this stuff so often):

  1. Communicate communicate communicate. You need to stop making assumptions about how your partner is feeling and actually talk to them. Seriously, I know this is really scary sometimes - what if all your worst fears are true? Well, what if? Your partner will most likely want to work through them, too, and you will grow even closer to them in the process. Bottom line: nothing is going to get any better if you're not on the same page.
  2. Compassion is a necessity. Towards your partner, towards yourself. Towards the person who is taking a superrrr long time to get out of the bathroom. I know it sucks, and it hurts, and everything feels really gross and hard, but if you can show people a little compassion - including yourself - sometimes that can make things easier. Remember - your illness or condition is already difficult enough to deal with. Don't compound that and make it doubly hard by punishing yourself in your mind.
  3. Take three deep breaths. Even just this little routine can give you a little distance from the issue and stop you from spiralling down into nothingness. Take three deep breaths, think through whether you've been down this guilt-trip before, think about whether it is helping. Repeat until things feel less awful.

I just wanted to write this for anyone else struggling with this sort of guilt - I am getting better at recognising when it comes by, but I'm still not great. It's all a process, I guess!!

Love to all who read.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Book Review: The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

Title: The Boneless Mercies
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Publication Date: October 4th 2018

Synopsis: "They called us Mercies, or sometimes Boneless Mercies. They said we were shadows, ghosts, and if you touched our skin we dissolved into smoke...

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are Boneless Mercies - death-traders, hired to kill quickly, quietly and mercifully. It is a job for women, and women only. Men will not do this sad, dark work.

Frey has no family, no home, no fortune, and yet her blood sings a song of glory. So when she hears of a monster slaughtering men, women, and children in a northern jarldom, she decides this is the Mercies' one chance to change their fate.

But glory comes at a price..."

My thoughts: Oh my goodness. This book just held me enthralled. The amazing story that Tucholke has created here is just mystical, magical... Dark, and beautiful. Just wonderful. I may just be gushing now so I'll try to get down to some specifics.

The characters each have their own tale to tell, but you get precious little from them initially. Even Frey, the character we walk with, tells you little of her own story, and focuses more on the present - the next mark, the next meal, the next town. Each character is so wonderfully unique, but similar in being drawn together to do their dark work. Another character, Trigve, fascinated me as well, but honestly I was most fascinated with Juniper - her tale is just magical.

This is a retelling of sorts of Beowulf, and I could see the similarities throughout the story, but never really felt like I was reading a direct copy or anything like that. Tucholke has created her own magnificent world here, and her writing is just captivating and beautiful all at once. I often had to sit back after reading a particular sentence to just marvel and the mastery that she seems to have over the words - this is definitely a writer that I need to read more of.

Anyway, if I haven't gushed enough already, I think you ought to try this book out if you're fond of darker fantasies. Highly recommended.

{I received a review copy of this book from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!}

A favourite line from the book: 'We walked slowly through the village of Hail the next morning, to let them see us, the people with death on their minds. It was market day, and busy, but the villagers parted to let us through. None made eye contact - no one wanted to be seen trying to catch the attention of a Boneless Mercy. They gave us a wide berth, so the edges of our cloaks wouldn't graze them as we passed.'

You would like this book if: you like dark fantasy; you enjoy a tone of mystery and women good with a knife.

Rating:  10/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Book Review: A Curse of Ash and Embers by Jo Spurrier

Title: A Curse of Ash and Embers
Author: Jo Spurrier
Series: Tales of the Blackbone Witches #1
Publication Date: October 1st 2018

Synopsis: "There are some problems only magic can solve.

Some people knit socks by the fire. Gyssha Blackbone made monsters. But the old witch is dead now, and somehow it's Elodie's job to clean up the mess.

When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she'd find herself working for a witch; and her acid-tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep.

Gyssha's final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet, and now, with huge monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie's help, whether she likes it or not.

And no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it's still better than going back home."

My thoughts: This was seriously just a really nice romp in a fantasy world - filled with magic, interesting characters and creatures, and of course the requisite evil old witch character lurking in the background.

The characters in this were quite interesting, though quite a few of them didn't hang around in the story long enough for me to get to know them very well. The main character - Elodie - intrigued me. Most of the time it seemed like she was trying to repress her emotions: she just had to deal with what was happening and that was that. But every now and then a truer, more intense version of her shined through, and I found myself getting drawn in deeper because of those flashes. The other character, Aleida, was fascinating, too, though I didn't find her to be as grumpy and prickly as the synopsis seemed to make out. The more I found out about her, the more interested I got, and it was surrounding these two characters that I felt the whole story was built and revolved.

The prose is eminently readable and flows really nicely. I didn't find any of the lyrical beauty here that I found in The Boneless Mercies by April Tucholke, but what I did find was a tale that twisted, turned, and kept me spellbound every time I picked it up. I really just loved getting to know the world and the characters of this book - and I love that this is the first book of a series. I could see myself impatiently waiting for each instalment (as, in fact, I am already doing) - and I really thought it was fantastic that there was a sample of the next book at the end of this one - it fed my appetite a little, enough that I definitely want more.

Overall, this is a slowly addicting novel, with enough magic and whimsy and action to keep you glued.

{I received a review copy of this book from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!}

A favourite line from the book: ''Gyssha,' she interrupted. 'She's dead.'
'I, I'm sorry to hear that.'

The woman snorted. 'You wouldn't say that if you knew her.''

You would like this book if: You like a magical tale with witches and dryads and monsters (oh my!); you enjoy the odd magical battle with cottage-living.

Tea to drink while reading this book: I would recommend a dark black tea, or some fresh mint tea - both are favoured in the book. Though I believe Aleida is more partial to coffee...

Rating:  7.5/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Reading // August & September 2018

Going to do a wrap-up here, but might also do a September Wrap-up over on my channel, since I finally posted a new video! Getting there, getting there...

Anyway, here's what I read in August and September!


books read:
~ Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More by Courtney Carver
~ Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater
~ City of Lies (Poison Wars #1) by Sam Hawke (review)
~ Rainy Day Friends (Wildstone #2) by Jill Shalvis (review)
~ Circe by Madeline Miller
~ Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley
~ Competence (Custard Protocol #3) by Gail Carriger
~ Restoration (Verity Fassbinder #3) by Angela Slatter (review)
~ Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life by Beth Kempton (review)
~ The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
~ The Raven King (The Raven Boys #4) by Maggie Stiefvater
~ The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker
~ Open Earth by Sarah Mirk (review)


books read:
~ The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
~ Obernewtyn (Obernewtyn Chronicles #1) by Isobelle Carmody
~ The Farseekers (Obernewtyn Chronicles #2) by Isobelle Carmody
~ Night and Day by Virginia Woolf
~ The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke (review)
~ A Curse of Ash and Embers (Tales of the Blackbone Witches #1) by Jo Spurrier (review)

Okay, wow. It feels strange seeing it all laid out like that. I actually forgot that I hadn't done a wrap-up of what I read in August - things have been really up and down with my energy levels lately (mostly down haha) and I think when the time came to write the blog I just couldn't summon the energy to do it. And then I figured I'd just write it later... just didn't realise how much later, I guess!

Anywho, here we are. 13 books in August, 6 in September. August was a pretty good reading month for me - I got through quite a lot of things, including some pretty sizeable books like City of Lies and the remainder of The Raven Cycle books, which I ended up adoring.

September has fewer books because I moved house in September, and I am still settling in at the new place, but I already love it quite a lot. Once I am less exhausted, I can see myself getting much thing done here. MUCH THING.

Standouts over the past two months? The ones that stick out in my mind at the moment are The Raven Cycle books, because I still think about them even now; Wabi Sabi because it was basically almost everything I adore in a book; Night and Day was just such a wonderful and involving read, and the first book I finished in the new house which I believe I will remember forever; and The Boneless Mercies, because that book was just dang brilliant.

I'm going to try and film a wrap-up for September properly for this week, so be sure to check out my channel for new videos that will be going up!

Love to all who read.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Book Review: Wabi Sabi by Beth Kempton

Title: Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life
Author: Beth Kempton
Publication Date: August 30th 2018

Synopsis: "A whole new way of looking at the world - and your life - inspired by centuries-old Japanese wisdom.

Wabi sabi ("wah-bi sah-bi") is a captivating concept from Japanese aesthetics, which helps us to see beauty in imperfection, appreciate simplicity and accept the transient nature of all things. With roots in Zen and the Way of Tea, the timeless wisdom of wabi sabi is more relevant than ever for modern life, as we search for ways to approach life's challenges and seek meaning beyond materialism.

Wabi sabi is a refreshing antidote to our fast-paced, consumption-driven world, which will encourage you to slow down, reconnect with nature, and be gentler on yourself. It will help you simplify everything, and concentrate on what really matters.

From honouring the rhythm of the seasons to creating a welcoming home, from reframing failure to ageing with grace, wabi sabi will teach you to find more joy and inspiration throughout your perfectly imperfect life.

This book is the definitive guide to applying the principles of wabi sabi to transform every area of your life, and finding happiness right where you are."

My thoughts: I am so grateful to have received a review copy of this book - it is so beautiful to see, touch, even smell. The creation of this book is so beautiful, and the words contained within had the uncanny ability to help me slow down, regardless of what I was doing or thinking before I sat down to read. I found myself wanting to gobble this up in one go, but subconsciously forced myself to slow down and read this in bites. It doesn't matter, though - I still want to read it again, anyway.

Beth Kempton writes absolutely beautifully - whether imparting a flash of her own memory so that we can see through her eyes, or explaining a concept. Her words come together beautifully and gently, and this makes it a joy to read. She does her best to explain what wabi sabi actually is, even though it is really difficult to explain, and she does a pretty good job of it. She also does really well at showing how to apply the concept of wabi sabi to different areas of your life, and the chapters are just wonderfully set out.

Ultimately, I feel like I found a piece of myself in this book. It is wonderful to come across someone who has a deep love of Japan whilst not actually being from Japan. In short, perhaps I'd like to be Beth Kempton when I grow up - we already have the same first name!

{I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!!}

A favourite line from the book: "I pick up a fallen momiji leaf, blushing burgundy and curling at the edges... I feel quiet contentment, tinged with melancholy in the knowledge that this fleeting moment will never return.
This is the world of wabi sabi."

You would like this book if: You are intrigued by the idea of wabi sabi; you enjoy gentle, slow living tales; you love beautiful books with a wonderful message.

Tea to drink while reading this book: I think a lovely bowl of matcha would be perfect. Prepared gently and thoughtfully, of course.

Rating:  10/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Picture Books I've Been Reading Lately #2

Here's another round-up review of some picture books I have been loving lately! Enjoy!

Bonkers About Beetles by Owen Davey (published by Flying Eye Books in May 2018)

book depository

I loved the graphic design of this one - the whole book is illustrated with this beautiful style with bold colours, interspersed with facts and information about each of the beetles. My husband is not a huge fan of bugs, but I found this really fascinating, and can easily imagine myself as a child poring over this beauty and learning as much as I could.

Highly recommended for the littles (and bigs!) in your life that are fascinated by the animal and insect world - it seems this series also has books on monkeys, sharks, and cats! I may have to hunt those down...

Amazing Australian Women by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer (published by Lothian in late August/early September 2018)


There is a growing trend of amazing picture books and graphic novels featuring wonderful women - often these books are aimed at younger readers in particular. And I am all for this trend. This addition features Australian women, and I really enjoyed learning more about some women I had heard of, but never really knew about, and some women that I had never heard of in the first place.

The artwork of this book is bright, colourful, and friendly, and matches the words really well. Each double-page spread is basically a snapshot of each woman, and it works really well for the intended audience. A lovely book.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Book Review: Restoration by Angela Slatter

Title: Restoration
Author: Angela Slatter
Series: Verity Fassbinder #3
Publication Date: 14th August 2018

Synopsis: "Walking between the world has always been dangerous - but this time V's facing the loss of all she holds dear. The brilliant, fast-paces sequel to Vigil and Corpselight.

Verity Fassbinder thought no boss could be worse than her perfectionist ex-boyfriend - until she grudgingly agreed to work for a psychotic fallen angel. And dealing with a career change no entirely of her own choosing is doing nothing to improve V's already fractious temper. The angel is a jealous - and violent - employer, so she's quit working for the Weyrd Council an sent her family away, for their own safety. Instead of indulging in domestic bliss, she's got to play BFFs with the angel's little spy, Joyce the kitsune assassin...and Joyce comes with her own murderous problems.

The angel has tasked V with finding two lost treasures, which would be hard enough even without a vengeful Dusana Nadasy on her heels. And Inspector McIntyre won't stop calling: the bodies of Normal women who disappeared decades before are turning up, apparently subjected to Weyrd magics. Angelic demands or not, this isn't something she can walk away from.

And the angel is getting impatient for results..."

My thoughts: I have previously reviewed Corpselight, the second book in this series (here), and also interviewed Angela Slatter about her Verity Fassbinder books (here), so I have shown my love of these books already, but please allow me to wax lyrical once more, just for a little while.

Slatter manages to create such fantastic characters, and I think that is what draws me back into her books every single time. Verity in particular is such a magnificent character - strong (not just her Weyrd strength, but also how she tries to handle things head on, even when she knows it's going to painful), witty, and just flipping awesome, I can't help but love her. There are other characters that I adore, even when they are...morally questionable. Slatter just creates characters that are so believable - Weyrd abilities or not.

The detective work that Verity needs to do in this book is also so interesting - Slatter manages to give enough info so that the reader has theories, but not enough to properly figure it all out - the reveals in this book are just intense. And one of the biggest reveals of all for me, that I think is fine to share, is that there are more books in this series. I was still thinking this was a trilogy, but with some serious unanswered questions, I am just as eager to get my hands on the next book as I was to get my hands on this one.

I cannot really say anything else without starting to give things away, so let me just say: read these books. They are awesome.

{I received a review copy of this book from Hachette in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!}

A favourite line from the book: "'So, what are you doing for a weapon?' I asked after climbing into the vehicle.
'Glove-box,' she instructed.

With some trepidation I opened the compartment to reveal a shiny iron war fan gleaming up at me.
'Oh. Nice!'"

You would like this book if: You love Angela Slatter's wonderful characters; you like a bit of dark fantasy with detective work thrown in.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Perhaps some peppermint to settle your stomach after all the revelations of this book...?

Rating:  8/10

If you'd like to keep up to date with what I'm reading, follow me on Goodreads here!

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