"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."
--Martin Luther

Saturday, 22 October 2016


Five years ago, I married the love of my life. That sounds so dramatic and picturesque. It WAS a beautiful wedding, but Gil and I were never star-crossed lovers, but rather ordinary people who found each other in an ordinary way. He wasn't my first love, but he was my best love and will (hopefully!) be my last love.

These five years have been quite the journey. Sometimes I find it difficult to mark anniversaries because things turned out so very different from the way that I hoped and planned. There were many days when I thought the infertility struggle would break me forever. There are still long nights when I wonder why it had to be like this, and why my husband stays with me when I am barren, broken, and depressed. I look at the photos from five years ago and tears come to my eyes, not tears of joy, but of sadness for the dark days that were still ahead for starry-eyed 2011 Maggie and Gil.



But our story is not over. Our love is not over. I married to a man who still makes me laugh every day, even on the days when my cheeks feel permanently streaked with tears. I married a man who tells me he would do it all again, even knowing how dark the nights would be, and how much of me would be lost in the journey. When I met Gil more than seven years ago, and even when I married him five years ago, I didn't yet know that I was marrying the best man there is, one who has integrity and tenacity and pluck in spades. Because of who he is, and because of who our God is, I have faith that one day the sun will shine a little brighter, and the tears will flow less frequently, and we will find out who we are in this new state of being permanently childless. There are still hard days ahead, but today I will celebrate with my best friend.

Happy anniversary, my dearest love and my dearest friend.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Top Ten (Er, Twelve) Tuesday: Character Names I Would Use On A Child Or Pet

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a little bit bittersweet for me. The official topic is "Ten Characters I'd Name A Child/Dog/Cat/Car/Etc. After". It's a hard topic because I have a long list of names for my future children, many of them from works of literature. I could easily name a dozen kids after my favourite books, but if you've tracked around her for a while, you may know that our journey to have a child has been unsuccessful, and that at this point, I am attempting to come to terms with never being a mother. Sorry to be a bit of a let-down on what is normally a lighthearted link-up, but there you go. I do, however, love names, so I'm going to open up a bit and share some of the names on my list that I fell in love with through books, and a few that I would happily use on a future fur baby. I'm excluding Bible names, because that list is looooooooooong. :)

Names I would use on a future child (if my husband would ever agree to them):
1. Hermione: I don't care if everyone in the world would respond with "Like in Harry Potter?" Yes, like Harry Potter, and like Shakespeare, and the daughter of Helen of Troy. It's such a beautiful and rich name, and I would use it in a heartbeat if it weren't for the fact that my husband would exercise veto power.

2. Josephine: Jo March is such a great role model for a bookish girl like I was. Again, it's not really usable for me since my two best friends and sister-in-law are all called Jo, but I like to daydream about a little Josie.

3. Marilla: Because Marilla Cuthbert is just such a great character, and I adore Rilla of Ingleside as well.

4. Beatrice: I mostly just like this name, but I fell extra in love because of Beatriz in Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow Of The Wind.

5. Jane: There are so many great Janes in literature like Jane Austen, who gave us Jane Bennet,, and my beloved Jane Ayre.

6. Dorothea: I've loved this name since I first read Middlemarch.

7. Walter: Oh Walter Blythe, I love you so! *Cries*

8. Edmund: Another name that I like for many reasons, but Edmund Pevensie and Edmund from Mansfield Park make me love it more.

Names I would and probably will use on a future pet:
9. Minerva: Yes, another HP name, but so fitting. There is a kitty named Minerva in my future. It's only a matter of time.

10. Luna: Actually, before we got Neville, we considered adopting a kitten that an acquaintance found, but that fell through. She was a lovely white cat and I was going to call her Luna.

11. Bingley: I'm not a huge dog person, but I have this dream of having a dog named Mr Bingley one day. Mr Bingley was just so cheerful and lovable that his name seems to suit a future pup.

12. Dunstable: I don't know why, but ever since I read Fifth Business 20ish years ago, I've had this in mind for a pet. It just makes me laugh to think of a cat with such a stodgy name.

As an added bonus, here are some names that I will never use, even if I love the associated characters:
Fitzwilliam: Sorry Mr Darcy, but no.

Bathsheba: Far From The Madding Crowd is a favourite of mine, and the character is a great example of a strong woman, but Bathsheba is a whole lot of name to bestow on someone.

Bertha: I adore Anne of Green Gables, but even though she loves this name, I do not.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I've Read Because of Other Bloggers

This week's TTT topic is books we've read on the recommendations of book blogs and vlogs. Here goes!

1. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra: I am fairly certain that I read this book because of Lianne over at Eclectic Tales, and I loved it. His second book has easily been my favourite read this year.

2. Walk On Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson: I read this because it was mentioned in one of Emily May's vlogs, and I'm super stoked to have the sequel in my hot hands to start today! It's also the first western I'd read in a long time... possibly in my entire life.

3. The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng: I think I read this from Barefoot Med Student's blog, and was excited to find a book that dealt with my husband's native country of Malaysia.

4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: I'm not sure where in particular I found out about this book, but it seems to be on a fair amount of blogs.

5. The Diviners by Libba Bray: Same as above. I'd seen it mentioned on various sites, and decided to take a risk. I ended up loving this book and am excited to read the rest of the series.

6. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan: This is thinly veiled Will and Kate fanfiction... and I loved it. I think it first came to my attention via a few blogs, among them The Broke and the Bookish and Tiff at Mostly YA Lit.

7. Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: I first became intrigued by this book when I bought a copy for the Broke and Bookish Secret Santa last year and sent it to Tiff at Mostly YA Lit. I realized then that I wanted to read it for myself, and what a sweet book it was.

8. To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han: This is another book that I saw on multiple sites, and decided to purchase when it popped up in my email on a list of Kindle deals. I adore the characters in this series and the light escape it provides from regular life.

9. The Young Elites by Marie Lu: I think I learned of this one from The Book Geek. To be honest, the first book wasn't my favourite and I have yet to read the sequel, but they did lead me to check out the dystopian Legend series, which I enjoyed.

10. Everything by Rainbow Rowell: I had never heard about her before I started checking out book blogs, and man, did I get hooked after reading Eleanor & Park. Her books are so addictive and the characters so interesting.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Villains From Recent Reads

Today's TTT topic is focused on villains. I was tempted to talk about my all-time most memorable villains, but they're probably everyone's most memorable villains, like Voldemort and Dracula and whatnot. Instead, I'm writing about memorable villains in some of the books I've read recently (i.e., in the last 2-3 years). I've chosen to focus on actual villains and omit cases where the villain was society, or Stalinism, or the protagonist him/herself.

1. The forest in Uprooted by Naomi Novik: I enjoyed this book and the fact that there wasn't so much of a tangible enemy except for the forest itself.

2. Drood in Drood by Dan Simmons: The whole question of this book is what is real, if anything, but I found the idea of the mysterious Drood very compelling.

3. Inspector Fumero in The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: Fascist sadists make for scary villains.

4. Naughty John in The Diviners by Libba Bray: Soooooooo scary. This book gave me the creeps!

5. The Humdrum in Carry On by Rainbow Rowell: Mostly because it's called the Humdrum. I just like the name.

6. John Uskglass (the Raven King) in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell by Susanna Clarke: I loved this book and was compelled by the mysterious Raven King that lures people into his traps.

7. Ursula the nanny in The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaman: Well, isn't that just your worst nightmare of a babysitter??

8. The perpetrator in Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects: I don't want to spoil the ending, so I won't reveal who ended up being the guilty person in this novel, but this book was incredibly disturbing, especially the villain.

9. Baron Harkonnen in Dune by Frank Herbert: He gave me the creeps.

10. Morgause in The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley: So manipulative!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR

Happy autumn! Today's TTT topic is the books on our fall to-read list. I've done a lot of reading over the summer and I am looking forward to some of the books I've got on deck for the fall.

1. Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson: Eep! This book comes out TODAY! I read the first book in the series, and loved it, so I've had a hold on this a the library for ages even though it hasn't been released yet.

2. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett: I've only read one other of her books, but I enjoyed it and this one seemed intriguing.

3. The Girls by Emma Cline: I've heard this is a real page-turner. I'm just waiting for my e-book hold to come in.

4. Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov: I must have added this to my to-read list ages ago, and I don't remember why, but as a die-hard Russophile, I'm interested in finding out what attracted me in the first place.

5. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell: A portrait of a country town by the author of North and South, which I loved.

6. All Roads Lead to Austen by Amy Elizabeth Smith: I mean, it's related Jane Austen, so what could go wrong?

7. Bolshoi Confidential by Simon Morrison: Ahhhhhh! I cannot wait for this to be released. Russia! Ballet! *swoons*

8. The Crimean War by Orlando Figes: This season's list is a little Russia-centric, eh? Oh well. Figes writes history in a very readable style, and I'm quite interested in this topic as I'm not hugely knowledgeable about the Crimean War.

9. The Last Command by Timothy Zahn: I didn't love the second book in the Thrawn trilogy, but I've been on a Star Wars kick all year and am psyched for Rogue One, so I'll probably try to read this third book in the series some time in the autumn.

10. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: I've read The Hunchback of Notre Dame AND War and Peace this year, both super long books that were on my lifetime to-read list, so why not finish off 2016 with another long classic.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

A Letter

Dear child of my heart,

I’ve written a lot of letters over the years, some to dear friends, some to people I had never met, and others to the nebulous “to whom it may concern”, but apart from writing to Santa in my childhood, I’ve never written a letter to someone who didn’t exist. But in a way, you do exist. You are my child, the child of my heart. You were never conceived and no one knows you in the flesh, and you will never have a fingerprint or a social insurance number, but I know you. You exist in my mind and in my dreams, and most importantly in my heart.

Child of my heart, I am sorry we will never meet, but know that I imagined the day of our meeting a thousand times. The way I would hold you and weep when I finally saw your face. The way your dad would be in awe. How we would send the news to the far corners of the earth that you were here at last, our baby.

I am sorry that I will never carry you in my womb. I’ll never know what it felt like when you kicked me or be able to complain about your pressure on my organs. I’ll never know the agony of pregnancy nausea coupled with that tiny bit of joy because it means you’re still there, holding on. I’ll never touch the place on my middle where you are poking your little arms or legs or butt out, never be able to sing or speak to you, to be the first voice you will recognize.

I’m sorry that you will never be able to show me the depths of love that exist in this world or challenge my innate selfishness by just being a person who needs me constantly. When other women talk with knowing nods about how motherhood changes a person, I’ll think of you – my nonexistent child – and know that I would have been changed too, and maybe I already have been – but in ways that none of these women would understand if I told them.

I’m sorry that you will not know your loving grandparents. I’ll never be able to look at your expression and see my father or mother, my younger brother or your own dad staring back at me. I won’t come around the corner and be overcome with emotion when I see you moving your arms in a gesture that is just like your grandma. I’ll never know if you would have taken after me in my musical abilities or my husband with his mischievous spirit.

I think of all the experiences we were going to share. I was going to read to you, first Goodnight Moon and Paddington Bear, later Anne of Green Gables and the Narnia books. I was excited to see you experience beloved characters for the first time. We would take you to the park, to see you soar in the wind on the swings and use the slide with glee, knowing that mommy would always be there to catch you at the bottom. We would go to the cottage, and you’d splash around on the same beach that I did when I was a child, and we would race to the dam, pick raspberries, and mark your height each year on the side of the bedroom door jamb. Then I’d show you on another doorway how tall I was at that age, and your uncle too, and we would compare.

I was going to watch you grow up, experience hardships and pains that would break my own heart as I stood by but couldn’t stop them. One day, you wouldn’t like me that much, but we’d push through. I would make a million mistakes and say all the wrong things, but in every moment, you would at least know you were loved, so loved. If you ended up like me, you would want to spread your wings and fly far, far away. I would stifle tears and let you go to forge your own path because I too once (or twice or three times) stood at airport security with a big bag, waving at my parents as I went off for adventure in new lands. As I watched you go, I’d lean on my husband and let the tears out, and he’d remind me that you were strong and would have the time of your life.

People will say that you can’t mourn someone who didn’t exist, but to me, you are real. You will always exist. You are my child – the child that never was and will never be – and I long for you each day with a visceral ache. I will miss you every day until it’s time to close my eyes and leave this world for new adventures. I will always love you, child of my heart.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Dystopian Books

Today's TTT topic is our top 10 books in any given genre. Is dystopian a genre? I decided it was, so that is my topic. Some of these veer more into the post-apocalyptic side rather than a full-blown dystopia, but here are my choices anyway. I am fairly picky about dystopian books. I need a fairly believable back story and am frustrated if the plot gets taken up by love affairs and the actual context is disregarded. I've read several series that gripped me at first, but over the course of time I ended up finding that many blended into each other in my memory. I also have yet to read The Stand by Stephen King and The Passage by Justin Cronin, though both are on my long-list of books to read. I didn't include 1984 or Brave New World, not because they aren't great, but because I read them in the mid-90s so I don't remember that much.

1. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood: This is one of my absolute favourite books of all time. I am not mad about the sequels, especially MaddAddam, and I think Oryx and Crake works as a standalone book.

2. We by Yevgeny Zamiatin: This is THE original dystopia, the one that inspired George Orwell.

3. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: This is one book that is possibly not a real dystopian. It deals with a worldwide plague and the aftermath, so some purists might say it's more post-apocalyptic in nature, but I don't really care. It's lovely.

4. The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler: A gripping story of a society falling apart.

5. The Giver and its sequels by Lois Lowry: I can't believe I only read this two years ago. While short, it is a poignant story about a society that has chosen harmony at the expense of truth and really experiencing life.

6. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: I've read this a few times and I feel like it gets creepier and more poignant every time.

7. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: It takes a while to figure out what is really going on in this book, and that's why I liked it.

8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: I didn't love the sequels, but there is no doubt that the first book in the series was gripping and presented a fascinating dystopia of haves and have-nots.

9. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell: This book actually has several interrelated stories that happen in various eras, but one is in a future dystopian society. It was a weird book to get into, but I ended up enjoying it a lot.

That's all I could do. There were a bunch of others that I thought about, but there wasn't one that stood out enough to me to make it top-10 quality. I'd welcome any recommendations in the comments!