Tag Archives: memories

The Box Must Be Empty: A Memoir of Complicated Grief, Spiritual Despair, and Ultimate Healing by Marilyn Kriete Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Marilyn Kriete shares the painstaking reality of grief and the danger of burying grief for too long in her book “The Box Must Be Empty: A Memoir of Complicated Grief, Spiritual Despair, and Ultimate Healing”.


The Synopsis

What happens when buried grief rises two decades late, upending the life you’ve built on its coffin? When your old grief seems inappropriate, and your heart wrestles with grief upon grief as you move too many times and lose too many friendships? How do you recover from a devastated marriage, a crushed faith, and an endlessly broken heart? This is the crux of Marilyn Kriete’s crisis. After losing her first great love to cancer, she becomes a Christian, marries Henry, and joins him in a hectic worldwide ministry that leaves little room for personal reflection. When her old grief unexpectedly resurfaces, she’s shocked by the tsunami that rips through their lives. And when intensive counseling fails to bring healing and Henry pens a letter that decimates their churches and spins them out of the fellowship, her battered heart is tested beyond imagination. Exploring delayed and complicated grief in its many disguises—dashed dreams, disenchantment, family troubles, and the guilt of being a former faith leader, now grappling with depression and dismay—Marilyn candidly shares her long journey back to wholeness.

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The Review

This was an emotional and captivating memoir. The author does a really wonderful job of writing in a way that connects to readers who have experienced grief themselves or are survivors of an emotionally draining and complicated event themselves. The author’s story is compelling, touching upon some important themes of grief, loss, and the journey to come to terms with that grief. The imagery and tone the author strikes are both somber and yet hopeful all at once, crafting a memorable story that compels the readers to continue forward with the author as they experience this emotional weight. 

The balance the author found within the context of the book was great to see unfold. From the author’s personal experiences and emotional connections to her past to the impact her grief had on her family and those around her and the importance of faith in recovering from this grief was so profoundly felt. The way the author talks about letting this grief simmer under the surface is something so many people can relate to, as it becomes instinct for many people to hold onto the things that are upsetting or emotionally draining to them and bury them under the weight of life itself. While this may seem like such a powerful tool to help cope, the result is an explosive emotional wave that can consume us far more than the initial grief itself, and the author illustrates this perfectly.

The Verdict

Emotionally driven, captivating, and engaging, author Marilyn Kriete’s “The Box Must Be Empty” is a compelling and heartfelt memoir that paints a vivid picture of the grieving process and the impact unresolved grief can have on a person’s life and those around them. The raw emotions and moving journey the author showcases in her book will resonate with readers long after the book ends, so if you haven’t yet be sure to preorder your copy today or grab the book when it releases on April 4th, 2023! 

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Marilyn Kriete was born and raised in Edmonton, Canada, but she didn’t stay long. After a colorful life spanning four continents and 16 cities, earning her keep as cook, chambermaid, waitress, fisherwoman, missionary, speaker/teacher, tutor, and academic writing editor, Marilyn now lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, with her charitable husband Henry and three demanding cats. Their two grown children were adopted from Mumbai, India, and Athens, Georgia. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The Lyric, Storyteller, The Eastern Iowa Review, The English Bay Review, and Brevity Blog. Her first memoir, Paradise Road, relates the runaway/hippie/bicycle touring odyssey that led to the next chapters of her unconventional story-and material for two more memoirs. Her debut memoir was also named the winner in the non-fiction adventure category of the Book Excellence Awards. The 15th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards named Paradise Road the winner in the Young Adult Non-Fiction category and a finalist for New Adult Non-Fiction. It was also a finalist for Book Cover Design-Non Fiction. Her nonfiction essay took First Prize in the 2022 Wine Country Writers Festival Writing Contest in British Columbia. Marilyn enjoys hiking, deep talks, word games, documentaries, and other people’s stories and reflections. You can follow her writing journey on MarilynKriete.com.


Love The Dark Days by Ira Mathur Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A woman who has been stuck in a vicious cycle of trauma as her grandmother lashes out after the loss of her former life finds herself fighting to let go of the past and reinvent herself in author Ira Mathur’s “Love The Dark Days”.


The Synopsis

From award-winning journalist Ira Mathur, Love The Dark Days is about accrued intergenerational damage between mothers and daughters in post-colonial worlds.

Set in India, England, Trinidad and St Lucia, Love The Dark Days follows the story of the life of Dolly, of mixed Hindu Muslim parentage in post-colonial India. Dolly, whose privileged family has colluded with the brutality of the British Rule in India, lives with her grandmother, who feels a raging loss at the fading old world. With it, her privilege. Dolly absorbs her grandmothers’ rage, becoming a living memorial of all the pain and injustice the imperious Burrimummy repeatedly hauls back from her past to tell and retell to Dolly. Just as Dolly is constantly pulled into the old wounds, so is the reader. The story is crafted so the reader viscerally experiences how trauma loops around, coming back and back through generations to warp the future.

That damage of unbelonging is repeated when her family migrates to Trinidad, where, in her darkest hour, she meets Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, who encourages her when she visits him in St Lucia over a weekend to leave the past behind and reinvent herself. Before she can do this Dolly must re-enter the past one last time.

Can Dolly find the courage to examine each broken shard of her shattered family and reassemble it into a new shape in a new world? It is raw, unflinching, but not without threads of humour and perceived absurdity; Love the Dark Days is an intricate tapestry with Dolly’s story at its heart. 

The Review

This was such a well-written and captivating memoir and biography. The balance the author found in the generational stories of her family, including her grandmother and mother, with her own experiences was so impactful and thought-provoking. The rich imagery the author conjured up through her writing really brought readers into the lives of these very different yet connected women through the generations of this family. 

The heart of the author’s story was true in the intricate details of her life experiences and the multi-cultural journey she undertook in her life, as well as the deep look into how Colonialism impacted both her family and the generations that came before. The history of Colonialism is so rarely discussed in detail within nations such as The United States outside of an advanced history course, and so learning of the experiences that came with Colonialism and getting to see it through both her mother’s family’s side and her father’s point of view was fascinating. Yet it was the intimate, heartfelt moments that the author shared of her own life and experiences that really made the deepest impact, even in the opening pages as she confronts a loss of proportionate significance. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, captivating, and engaging, author Ira Mathur’s “Love The Dark Days” is a must-read memoir and nonfiction book. The rich cultural dynamics both within her family and her own life were so passionately written about and felt in the journey the reader was led on, and the emotional and mental struggles the author and her multi-generational family underwent, including this cycle of trauma, were both tragic in its delivery and yet hopeful in the author’s achievements and experiences in the modern day. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Ira Mathur is an Indian-born Trinidadian award winning multimedia journalist with degrees in Literature, Law and Journalism. www.irasroom.org .She is currently the Trinidad Guardian’s longest-running columnist , and has freelanced for The Guardian (UK) and the BBC.

IN 2021 Mathur was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award for her unpublished novel ”Touching Dr Simone.”

In 2019 Mathur was longlisted for the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize. An excerpt of her memoir is anthologized in Thicker Than Water, (Peekash Press, 2018).

In 2018 she shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize, the Lorian Hemmingway (short story) and Small Axe Literary Competition.

Mathur gained diplomas in creative writing at the University of East Anglia/Guardian with James Scudamore & Gillian Slovo and Maggie Gee at the Faber Academy. ( 2015/2016)


Hope At The House of Mouse (Disneyland 2018)

My Day At Disneyland


The blazing Southern California heat couldn’t touch stop us from having the time of our lives. When the world thinks of Southern California residents, they have a certain image of us. They see beach dwellers, Hollywood obsessed actors and non-stop party goers. They see the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, and the pitfalls of crime and horrors on the streets of our cities. Thanks to social media, a lot of people also tend to assume that anyone who lives in Southern California goes to Disneyland all the time. They would be wrong.

When I was a kid, trips to Disneyland were a once a year adventure. They were ingrained into our childhood memories, like sand mixing into the fibers of a carpet. No matter how hard you try not to dwell on the past and yearn to return to a happy time, those memories just won’t go away. For someone like myself, who struggles with physical disabilities 24/7, getting down to Anaheim and the Happiest Place On Earth is no easy task.

Entering The Park


For the first time, I got to experience a day at Disneyland and California Adventure like never before. Setting out with my fellow Disney obsessed fans (who happen to also be my mother and sister) we ventured into the park and experienced it like it was the first time. From our first time eating lunch at the famed Carnation Cafe to the soothing ride on the classic attraction Jungle Cruise, the day was like someone scavenged through the memories of my childhood and plucked it out of my mind.



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Honoring My Grandfather


The highlight, (one of many), of the day for me came in New Orleans Square. Years ago on Christmas Eve, my family and I had the misfortune of having to say goodbye to my grandfather, my mother’s father. He was a kind, caring family man who may not have been perfect, but he loved his family dearly. He was the kind of man who wouldn’t let you get into his home without bombarding you with affectionate hugs. He gave my mother, sister and I our love for cheesy horror movies and musicals. He is the man who introduced my mother, and subsequently me, to the works of Stephen King, the author who would inspire me to become a writer in the first place. He was an amazing soul who worked his entire life as a carpet layer to provide for his family, and gave everyone a lifetime’s worth of memories to cherish.

It was one of those memories that led to this momentous day at Disney. While in New Orleans Square, my mother surprised my sister and I with a glass figurine each. We learned that as a child, her father would take her to Disneyland, and together they would watch the glass figurines being made in that shop, the Cristal d’Orleans. Then he would buy her one of the figurines. It was a symbol of the great memories she made at the park with her father, and for years she dreamt of passing it down to us. After a decade away from the park, we finally had the opportunity to learn of this experience she had, and together we had an emotional bonding moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.

California Adventure

Then we continued our fun in California Adventure. An area of the park we never experienced as children since it had yet to come into existence fully, we explored the fun and excitement of the park. It was Pixar Fest, and we got to see some amazing sights. We traveled back in time to the days when boardwalk games were still popular and won some fun prizes. We listened to amazing Mariachi Music, including a wonderful rendition of our current favorite Disney tune, “Remember Me” from Coco. We shopped and dined, and together we experienced one of the best days of our lives.

Some may not understand fully why a day at Disneyland could be so magical to a family of adults, but to us, honoring our childhood and the memories we shared, is something everyone should experience throughout their lives. The world of Disney helped shape part of our lives, giving us the means to explore masterful storytelling, emotional highs and lows in life, and best of all, discovering the magic of hope. In our daily lives, we experience physical pain from our disabilities, emotional pain from those illnesses and the despairing world around us, and mental pain knowing those things aren’t something we can change overnight. Yet in that one day, we got to experience nonstop wonder, excitement, fun and best of all, hope.

A Day To Cherish

We laughed. We cried. We made memories together, and we made promises to one another. Promises to honor the day we had with one another and make it an annual trip (hopefully) in the future. To make it a goal to get to the park at least once a year, and honor the memories we shared with one another. To honor those who are no longer with us in body, but remain in our hearts. To look adversity and pain in the face and smile, as the hope for a brighter tomorrow races towards us. For myself and my family, that is what the happiest place on Earth means to us. That’s what Disney has done for our family.

What is your favorite childhood memory? What’s one place you will never stop wanting to go to no matter how old you are? Leave your comments below.


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#waybackwednesday to when I had long hair and was hanging out with the guys of @alltimelow before one of their shows in North Carolina! #alltimelow #memories

Here are some pictures from my Christmas experience this year, courtesy of @avinaphotoconcepts Want to see the rest? Go like my @facebook page and see the rest of the photos I just posted. www.facebook.com/AuthorAnthonyAvina #facebook #pictures #picture #memories #christmas #christmas2015 #christmastime #family #facebookpage #facebooklike

A special #tbt today in honor of my grandfather. Three years ago today he passed away, but he has never truly left us. I love and miss him every single day, and his influence and life is felt by myself and my family every day. Christmas was his favorite holiday because it brought his family together, so while we mourn his passing, we will honor his memory by happily coming together as a family and celebrating our favorite time of the year. I ❤️ you Grandpa! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas everyone 🌲😃🎁 #happyholidays #holidayseason #holiday #christmas #christmastime #christmas2015 #grandpa #memories #love #family


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Feeling nostalgic with my music choice this week. It’s Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!
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