Author Archives: SharaLee Reads

About SharaLee Reads

I love to read and I love to talk about what I read. Here I will share my insights on books people send me to read, on old classics, on graphic novels, on pretty much anything involving the written word. If you love books and you love to talk about them, this is the place for you! Bibliophiles are welcome and others are welcome to learn. Welcome to my literary world! (Now go read a book for a while).

My Daughter’s First Story


I have chosen to become a stay-at-home Mom. It sounds funny saying this now that my daughter is already almost 4, but for a long time I was trying to juggle so many other things that being a Mom was just sort of a state of being, but didn’t really feel like a *choice*. A lot has happened this summer, and this post isn’t about the past, but my husband and I have been through a lot together and come out the other side much stronger; but ONLY because both of us chose to make each other and our daughter our number one priority. We had a lot of stuff to work through basically since we started dating, and things finally feel like we’re on the same page, pulling for the same team again. So things just leading to what we naturally want when our priorities are right, I found myself wanting to CHOOSE to be a stay-at-home Mom. So that’s what I am. And I’ve never been happier. I’m such a black-and-white thinker sometimes that I forget that choosing one thing does necessarily negate other opportunities. For example, I can still be a full-time Mom, and write this blog. Just as long as my husband and my daughter come first. It’s a good feeling.

I’m sitting in my room with Ivy, and she and I have decided to write a story together. She will narrate and I will type. Without further ado, for your enjoyment, I bring you Ivy Podolecki’s debut story, Ivy Mae.

Ivy Mae

Once upon a time, there was a castle. It was green and yellow and blue and made out of bricks. In the castle lived a princess named Ivy, a king named Daddy, and a queen named Mommy. They had two cats: a black one named Emily, and a black one named Lestat. They were very very happy.

One day, Princess Ivy was walking her poodle in the garden, and she had her laptop with her. She was writing stories and drinking apple juice from her magic princess cup made of grass. Her poodle was yellow and white, and its name was Saka. She loved being in the garden with the princess.

Princess Ivy decided to go buy a new computer. When she got to the store, there weren’t any left! And then the people in the store tried to take away her poodle! But Princess Ivy and Saka got away by borrowing a stroller and pretending that Saka was Ivy’s baby. Those silly computer store people!

Princess Ivy was sad. She really wanted a new computer! But where could she find one? Suddenly she remembered that there was a different computer store far, far, far away in a country called Number Three. She thought about it, and she decided to go there to get one. But she would need lots of supplies to help her make the long journey, so she packed a giant magic bag, and this was what was inside: jewels in jewelry boxes, six of Saka’s baby poodles, and slides in case she got bored.

She got into her car with her best friend Sampy the Unicorn, and Saka, and her magic bag, and started driving towards Number Three. She drove over lots of jumps and went flying through the air but she never crashed because of the magic in Sampy’s magical unicorn horn.

Finally, they all arrived in Number Three. It was right beside a country called Number Four. It was a pretty country, with Ivy-sized bikes and jewelry boxes everywhere. She found the computer store, which was called Everything Plus Three Poodles Store, and she found a new laptop! It was green and yellow, and it could tell her stories. She paid for it with the jewels that she had brought, and bought strawberry lollipops for Sampy and Saka.

They got in the car and arrived safely home, just in time for a delicious feast of Ivy’s favourite dinner: orange juice, apple juice, lollipops, and other candy. It had been a good day, and Ivy went to bed happy with a kiss from her Mommy and a kiss from her Daddy.



Source: Tough


– Woke up before Ivy today: was a very strange feeling. I remember thinking ‘This is what crunchy peanut butter feels like when being spread on toast” because my glasses are broken and I woke up with a headache and my ears are blocked up from my cold so everything was muffled and blurry yet slightly sharp and painful, not to mention the apprehension of how Ivy would be when she entered my realm. But she was cheery and normal, albeit surprised to see me up so early.

– Graham came home and it was so good to see him. We sat and had a pleasant morning coffee together. Have missed him. Things are still rocky, but we’re learning so much on this journey and I feel our foundation is getting stronger.

– Met Papa at A&W at 12:30 for lunch. Fun Fact: the Smoky BBQ Teen Burger has 50 less calories than the Veggie Deluxe. Also, they have shakers with the special A&W seasoning salt blend out on the condiment stand now.

– Went to Charleswood with Papa and snapped some photos of some of the flora:


(These are baby fir cones and up above are some larkspur and marigold along with a nameless white flower I just thought was really pretty).

– Did almost ALL my laundry (Nana had picked it up the night before).

– Continued reading ‘Haunted Winnipeg’ by Matthew Komus.

– Ate some roll kuchen and watermelon for supper, continued folding laundry.

– Grandparents went out to a Thing, so I chilled out on the couch. Reading a good WEBTOON right now, called ‘Dead Days’. Super realistic artwork, and with a storyline interesting enough to keep me hooked even though it’s about zombies, which normally completely turns me off.

– Had a mini bag of Lays Classic chips for a snack, and a can of Brisk Lemonade. The chips were good, but since I’ve been drinking more soda water, I found the lemonade too sweet and flat and sugary for me.

– Took a nice bath and washed my hair.

– Nana just texted to ask if I want a smoothie from McDonald’s. They had a blueberry pomegranate one, so I said yes.

– Enjoying the nostalgia of being at my grandparents’ house, with books on how the Illuminati controls the world, books on how to exorcise demons, and let’s not forget the endless Amish romance novels! (Literally about Amish people in love, just to clarify.)

– Grandparents went out for a walk and I am retreating to the bedroom after nibbling on a couple Triscuits (Rosemary & Olive Oil, my favourite kind!) and some dried mango from the Philippines.

– Felt weird drinking milk with my meds and not feeling guilty about it, as normally the milk is reserved wholly for Ivy and I hate to even use it in cooking.

And that is my day thus far. Thankful for air conditioning most of all, then my family & pets & friends, then my books.

What are y’all reading?

Peace out. ☮️

– SharaLee




Current Song: Elastic Heart (Acoustic) – Sia, quickly followed by Last Kiss – Taylor Swift as I type this.

So many changes in my life, it’s crazy!

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting unhappily in my bedroom, wondering where my life was going, when I suddenly decided, “You know what? I am tired of being a victim. Yes, I live with bipolar disorder. Yes, I will have setbacks. But I can’t wait around forever for things to go back the way they were before my illness developed. They never will. I have to incorporate this illness as part of my life, and not let it BECOME my life.

So I called up an Academic Advisor at the University of Winnipeg (where I had previously nearly completed a 3-Year Bachelor of Arts, but had to drop out due to the development and seriousness of my illness) to see what my GPA was, where I stood, and what I could do to complete my degree in a different field, namely Psychology.

Current Songs: Closing – The Nightmare Before Christmas, quickly followed by Turn It Off – Paramore as I was typing.

It turns out that even though my marks had started to go down drastically during my last classes at the University, I still have a GPA of 3.548, and thus I qualify not only for bursaries and scholarships (which I can start applying for in November), but I am able to enter the 4 Year Honours Psychology program as soon as the Spring term!

I didn’t want to apply for student loans for one Spring course (Psychology 1000: I had started taking this course, but had dropped it a few years ago, thinking my career was headed in a different direction), so I thought, well I guess that means I have to get a job.

I updated my resume, uploaded it to Workopolis, applied to be a Customer Service Representative at a call centre on a whim in the middle of the night, and two days later got called in for an interview. Later that day I was hired, and I now have a full-time job with benefits, an excellent work environment, amazing coworkers, and a means to pay for my Spring course without accruing any debt.

Current Songs: Save Your Day – Jose Gonzalez, Scarborough Fair – Celtic Woman

I no longer feel useless or like a burden to my family or like I’m wasting my potential. My academic advisor told me that every single one of the 66 credits I had earned for the 3 Year English Lit. BA can be used toward my Honours Psychology, which means that not only have I already completed all of my electives and humanities, but I am only 54 credit hours away from graduating. I AM ALREADY OVER HALFWAY THERE.

Once I graduate from the U of W, I plan to take Applied Counselling at Red River College and work using a behavioural therapy model based on DBT to help troubled youth and young adults.

A switch just flipped, and I suddenly realized I was at a place where I could take charge of my life again. It’s not a high, it’s not an impulse, it’s not a delusion. It’s just normal and filled with hope and potential. This is such a good thing, I had to share it with all of you.

Some of you might wonder, ‘How can someone with a mental illness be a counsellor for other people?’ Just to be sure of this myself, I asked my psychiatrist’s opinion, and he said that because I have suffered and live with bipolar to this day, it will help me be more empathetic in my job and will be an advantage rather than a disadvantage. I have no illusions that there will be no hard work involved, but I really feel that this is my purpose. It’s wonderful to find a niche. I. Am. Happy.

End Songs: Tonight – Lykke Li, All Fired Up – Petra

Book Review – ‘The Dragonfly Saga: Book I: Empress of Canton’ by Juliann Troi



Kathryn Hopewell is the wealthy daughter of William Hopewell, the head of the powerful Hopewell Trading house in Canton in the early 1900s. She has just stepped off the docks after completing business studies at Harvard University in America, and is off to a good start in what she believes will be her position of taking her father’s place as head of the trading empire. Alas, alack, gasp! An unforeseen circumstance has appeared! It turns out Kathryn’s father only sent her to Harvard because he had the money to burn and thought real university would knock that idea out of her silly little head. He has engaged her to a useless Australian named Collin McNeal, who will be the one taking over Kathryn’s hopes and dreams and who is apparently completely devoted to her, even though he has never met her.

There is unrest in China during this period. Warlords and generals vie for provinces and citizens are caught in the crossfire. Kathryn and her friend Lucy go shopping for one fateful day in a district outside their safe zone, and are captured.

Lucy, who is British, is (of course) snuffed out (in fact, anything not American is looked upon as slightly inferior in this cloying melodrama), but General Cheng Jiong’s nephew Wang Ti-wei (who is acceptable as a secondary character because he, too, has gone to school in America and has Americanized his name to Ty Wang before returning to China and getting embroiled in family and national politics) has fallen in love with Kathryn and protects her by offering to lead her to General Cheng’s home in the north where they will be free to escape and he can return her to her father.

Like Disney’s version of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, within three days, they have declared their undying love for one another, and become married in the peasant fashion (eat a meal and sleep in the same room together – which makes me wonder how many people I can claim as spouses today: all interested, come forth into my fold!)

The book ends with their arrival at General Cheng’s home of Shaoguan, which it turns out is actually Wang Ti-wei’s childhood home that was appropriated from him after his mother died. There they complete their final act of marriage, all in a rosy glow of prayer and Bible reading and endless repetitions every five seconds of his ‘sable’ eyes and her ‘teal’ ones.

This book attempts to produce a strong female character, and Kathryn is indeed feisty, but only through an arranged marriage can she receive her inheritance, even though she is more qualified, and the romanticization of the role Westernization played changing China forever, the fact that Ty has to be somewhat Western to be equal to Kathryn, is for lack of a better word, appalling, as though he could not have been legitimate without her as his wife, or she could not somehow have survived without a husband. The image below illustrates how I feel Troi uses Kathryn: she idolizes her – this ‘Chinaman’ is lucky to have her, and his many ninja-esque exploits only serve to feed into the fascination of the exotic that this book only uses as though to say, ‘What a fascinating time before they finally caught up with our American society’.


I give this book 2 stars out of 5, because the writing isn’t entirely terrible, but nothing more than that, for not only being sexist and racist and very ‘Murican, I could not believe the amount of times ‘sable’ was used to describe Ty’s eyes. There is such a thing as a thesaurus. His eyes could also have been ‘black’, ‘dark’, ‘ebony’, ‘jet’, ‘jetty’, ‘raven’, ‘dusky’ or ‘dusty’, but no, ‘sable’ was the only adjective used to describe them, and that was enough to lose at least one star. Don’t even get me started on the many other adjectives she could have used instead of ‘teal’.

Hello From the Other Side

Hello, again!

Since the last time I posted, my hubby & daughter & cat & I have moved to a new place in an area of Winnipeg that we just love. It has beautiful trees everywhere, old character houses, we’re close to the Assiniboine River, and a library and a thrift store, and delicious restaurants (Charisma of India has amazing Indian food, Decadence Chocolates has the best handmade chocolate (and spicy chocolate-covered salted hazelnuts & almonds!) I have tasted in the entire city, and we live just around the corner from Boon Burger, an all-vegan burger restaurant we are dying to try).

2016-07-26 12.51.47

Left to Right: ??? chocolate which turned out to be filled with Chai ganache & Coffee-flavoured chocolate from Decadence Chocolates

I am a huge supporter of small businesses, and that is especially easy to do in a neighbourhood with so much talent, so much flavour, so much care to the excellence of whatever craft it is that someone decides to pursue. Another place I recommend, that I really want to visit more, is Hollow Reed, where natural ingredients and remedies are not only sold, but actively harvested. This place also offers classes on recognizing and harvesting the healing crops native to our province, and how to use them, something I am very interested in investing in in the future.

It’s a great neighbourhood to be in, and I’m so glad Ivy can grow up somewhere safer and with less crime and noise pollution than one of our previous neighbourhoods. This is it for now, but I just thought I’d update on some of the more interesting places in our neighbourhood. Oh, and best yet: our front yard is a Pokestop. So all in all, I’d say this move was good for us.

What are some of your favourite places around where you live? Please let me know in the comments! Have a great day! ❤ 🙂

 – SharaLee

‘Hawthorne Cottage’ by R.L. McCallum

Hawthorne Cottage

I shall broach unto thee a dark farewell

If not ye heed this ghastly knell –

Henceforth beware where time is keeping

The dead abroad who are not sleeping…


Thus begins R.L. McCallum’s Victorian gothic tale of Professor Alexander Greystone, a writer from London who moves to a haunted cottage in Hampshire, England for a more peaceful, simple life. Little does he suspect the terror that awaits there in the form of the seven Hawthorne sisters, former tenants of the cottage who haunt the house and whose contact with the living is rife with terror and violence. The novel follows Greystone’s investigations into the root of paranormal activities at Hawthorne Cottage, bringing the reader through a gamut of close calls, near-death and (full-death!) experiences, a haunted painting, and ignorant curious bystanders until it comes to its conclusion and the reader finds out whodunit.

The plot was imaginative and enjoyable, the perfect story for a rainy day, and I finished this book in less than a week, which is always a good thing. It holds the attention of the reader in most places, but I did find it to drag too slowly in several instances. The author claimed to have purposely used Victorian vernacular in writing this piece, but I found a few anachronisms, and  at times the character voices were not very distinguishable from one another, especially those of Professor Greystone and Constable Kingsley. Other than that, however, the description was excellent and the dialogue between Greystone and Woodruff was especially good.


I enjoyed the classic elements of the gothic novel, the rain, the ruined cottage, the hauntings, a few deaths. I was slightly disappointed that the nature of Mrs. Parmby’s relationship to the Hawthorne sisters was not further explored, and I felt Miss Farnsworth was not prominent enough a character to be included as she is in the synopsis of the book. I also wondered why, if Anastasia Hawthorne were pregnant when she died, was there no baby among the hauntings at Hawthorne Cottage? The conclusion had promise, and then fell short. The mystery of the killer of the Hawthorne sisters was solved, but Abigail Hawthorne had not been helped to the other side, nor did Greystone discover where she had been laid to rest. The reader, however, is told in what feels like an aside, of how Abigail is brought to peace and where her body had been hidden all along. It felt untrue to Alexander’s character that he would muscle through so many near-death escapes at Hawthorne Cottage to get to the bottom of the mystery, all for the sake of writing his book, which is a very strong motive, and then not give himself the satisfaction of tying up the loose ends for himself and his readers, especially when the other spirits were no longer causing trouble in the house to distract him. I also felt that the death of Cora McKenna was unnecessary, unless the trend of women dying in whom Alexander is interested is to continue in further Professor Greystone novels, as was hinted at in several places throughout the book.

‘The Gothic’ – Check out this link for an explanation of the genre of gothic literature

Grammar & Punctuation

I found there to be several small grammar and punctuation errors, but nothing that hindered the actual progression of the book, and all in all I quite enjoyed this spooky story.

Star Rating

For an excellent ghost story (but because of a few too many hitches) I give this book a resounding 3.5 stars out of 5 and recommend it as a satisfying read for a rainy day or a weekend at the cabin.

Further Reading

R.L. McCallum has a great voice and other works by him can be found on Amazon or at his website.

Love Life Goals

*shirt can be found here.
Love. So passionate, so deep. Turn on some R. Kelly and go back to the days when a love song was a love song. Us before ourselves. Love is a lot of things more, but it’s not easy. Passion and forgiveness make it worth all the hard times. 💜

Day 1

Have decided to more actively take care of myself. 

This includes a more concerted effort toward:

  • Hygiene 
  • Exercise
  • Eating Better
  • Daily Meditation/Mindfulness
  • Exploring my Spirituality
  • Forgiving Myself
  • Practicing Gratitude
  • Financial Responsibility

Ivy was up at 2 am last night, crying and then running around like a Wild Thing. I got her down after a diaper change and some water. This happened repeatedly until the early waking hours of today. Graham finally got her down at I don’t know what time with a bottle of milk, and we were all shocked to wake up after 11 am. (Ivy usually gets us up by 8-8:30 at the latest). She must be going through another developmental leap. In two weeks she’ll either be another clothing size or be speaking full sentences.

I caught up on notifications, Graham made coffee. I had it with cream but no sugar, as usual.

Checked my phone for any missed messages from my doctor’s office. There were none. He is moving his office at the moment, and all messages will only be checked periodically until he settles in at the new office on June 30, so I wasn’t surprised. I’m still not particularly fond of waiting, but there’s nothing I else I can do at the moment. C’est la vie, I suppose.

Had ordered some underwear online, and it arrived today. Ivy was thrilled and ran around with panties on her head for a good half hour. Tried them on – no luck, too small. I ordered the biggest size, but I’m a big-boned girl of partial German ancestry with extra weight besides, and the website is based in Asia. It was a gamble to begin with. At least Ivy got something out of them. Ordered earrings too and they at least look good, so I didn’t feel too terrible.

However, Underwear Situation pushed me to make a decision. Am going to return to ‘flexitarian’ ways. It’s the best and most accessible way I know to eat healthier and make sure I get my fruits & veggies. If I’m at my parents’ house or something and they have no other options, I’ll eat what is served to be polite. But I am going to try to stick to non-meat options and also do crunches, see if I can’t lose some of that medication/bad food/inactivity weight. After all, I’ve got a pair of red silky panties to fit into! 

Had an apple and Ivy’s leftover cheesy scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Had to flick Lestat away from taking actual bites out of the egg carton while cooking Ivy’s eggs. He was under the influence of catnip, so that could explain it. But still. I love that dumb cat so much it’s stupid.

Book Review – *Picaflor* by Jessica Talbot


This book was truly a pleasure to read. Talbot has a way of using simplicity to approach the most complex of emotional subjects, including the wake of a suicide, a complicated childhood, the wonder and fear of starting fresh in a new place, the guilt and nostalgia of homesickness, and the satisfying though tentative steps one takes from desolation to confidence, healing and self-actualization. Based on the author’s own life, this book rings true without being trite or bitter or overdramatic. Talbot is succinct and graceful in her use of description, private yet open when sharing her inner thoughts. Picaflor is a gem to come across, a breath of fresh air, depicting the hummingbird in each of us, trying to find home. 5 out of 5 stars.