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

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2016

Today's TTT topic is "Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read for the First Time in 2016". Pretty self-explanatory. Here's my list!

1. Elena Ferrante: I've been making my way through the Neapolitan novels. One book left, and that's on deck for me when I finish my current read.

2. Kristin Hannah: I loved The Nightingale. So good!

3. S.E. Hinton: I finally read The Outsiders when I found myself with hours to kill and no book while waiting for my car to be repaired, and to my surprise, I utterly loved it.

4. Dan Simmons: I had Drood on my list forever, but finally made my way to it in the spring. I'll definitely be reading more of his books.

5. Geraldine Brooks: People of the Book was a really intriguing concept. I definitely want to read a few more of her books, especially March.

6. Carlos Ruiz Zafon: I read The Shadow of the Wind while on holiday in Barcelona, and it was one of the best books I read all year.

7. Libba Bray: I finally started the Diviners series, and boy am I hooked. I can't wait for the third book to come out!

8. Becky Albertalli: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda made me laugh and cry.

9. Markus Zusak: How did I wait so long to read The Book Thief?

10. ShayaLonnie: Okay, so this year I discovered FanFic and got obsessed. ShayaLonnie is one of my favourites.

Now it's your turn, readers! What new authors captivated you this year?

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Things For Which I Am Thankful

I haven't been blogging a lot lately. My apologies. I got a bit caught up with life. I'll update more later, but I got a new part-time job, and between that, NaNoWriMo (first time doing it!), the US election, and feeling a bit overwhelmed with grief, I haven't had a lot to say about myself.

I missed last week's link-up, but I like the title and I'm in desperate need of a little gratitude in my life so I'll link up with the same topic this week: Ten Things I Am Thankful For.

Non-Bookish Things
1. I'm beyond thankful for my country. We have made many mistakes over the years, but in the past little while, I have been overwhelmed with joy that I live in a country and a city that is diverse and accepting of others. Last week, I have the privilege of celebrating with a friend who had her Canadian citizenship ceremony. When the waitress at our restaurant asked why we were all so happy, we told her. She responded with, "That's so amazing! Way to go! I don't know if I could do it, especially the test!" She then had a free dessert sent to our table. It was such a beautiful gesture of welcome, and I was very moved.

2. I'm thankful for my husband. We have been through deep waters, and I know that it has not been easy for him to grieve with me and also deal with a spouse who is deeply hurting and dealing with depression and anxiety. He has been my biggest fan every step of the way, and I am so grateful.

3. I'm thankful for my my family. Sometimes I take it for granted that parents and siblings love and support one another, but the more I see of the world, the more I realize that isn't always true. We may not always do the right things, but we have each other's back and my family is full of love.

4. I'm thankful for Neville! He brings me joy every day.



5. I'm thankful for my Christian faith. I don't talk about it that much on here because I've been wrestling a lot with God and with His plan for my life. I don't understand why He has chosen to leave us childless, and I struggle with why I have not like I fit in or was supported by the broader Church when I was in the dark hole of depression... but I know that this life is not all there is, and I am thankful that God gives me hope in the hard times.

Bookish Things:
6. I'm thankful for Overdrive and public libraries. I would probably be bankrupt if there were not so many ways to get books for free!

7. I'm thankful for Harry Potter. The books have gotten me through some very dark days, and I am looking forward to a full reread over the Christmas season.

8. I'm thankful that with the growth of ebooks, I can read a lot of the classics for free on my Kindle.

War And Peace on a summer's day

9. I'm thankful for the book blogging community, where I can always find recommendations for books that will challenge and entertain me.

10. I'm thankful for writers who go deep into research to make their stories more accurate. There is nothing more satisfying to me as a historian than reading historical fiction and finding that the writer did his/her homework.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Halloween?

So it's Halloween. A few weeks ago, the facilitator of my infertility support group asked if we have trouble with this day, and most of us said that we don't. I don't remember this being a particularly hard day in the past - certainly not up there with Mother's Day - but it turns out that I should know better than to make assumptions with the emotions of infertility. I'm finding today hard.

Halloween is not a big thing for me. I enjoyed it as a child, and somewhat as a college student, but frankly I'm not hugely into costumes and have never had the desire to dress up as an adult, so I've predominantly ignored it in years past. I hand out candy, but I don't watch spooky movies or decorate beyond a simple pumpkin. It's not my thing.

Halloween in uni. Oh my.
This year, I suddenly find today difficult. My Facebook feed is full of children and families in costume. Everyone seems to be enjoying today. Everyone but me. Since we've made the decision to step back from treatment, it feels like I'm mourning all the things that will never be. I won't dress my adorable cherubs in fun costumes. I won't ever be the one going door to door. It feels like just one more aspect of life that I'm shut out of. Between Christmas, Family Day, Mother's Day, and Halloween, it feels like every few months there's another observance to remind me that I'm on the outside looking in, while others mark the passage of time. I feel a little like Scrooge peering in on his nephew's Christmas dinner in A Christmas Carol. Observing, but not observed. Such is the life of an infertile woman.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Five

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...

But...

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!