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

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent 5-Star Reads

I skipped a week (or maybe two?), but today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is about our most recent 5-star books on GoodReads. I'll be honest: I'm a terrible reviewer. I feel so guilty giving books a bad review, so I almost always default to 4 stars unless I really hated it or had issues. Also, sometimes I give no starts if I'm not sure what rating to give, so it looks like I hate books when actually I just don't know what to say. Oops. Anyway, despite being overly generous, I rarely do 5 stars, unless I absolutely love the book or it strikes me as unique or incredibly well-done, whether or not I enjoyed the book. I've scoured my lists, and these seem to be all the 5-star books from the past 18 months or so:

1. The Passion by Jeanette Winterson: I might be a bit biased about this one since it is my friend's favourite book, but I really enjoyed reading it, and it was strange and different from any other books that I could recall, so that gave it an extra boost in my ratings.

2. The Diviners by Libba Bray: This book hooked me from the first, and it struck me as not being formulaic, which in the YA fantasy or paranormal genre is hard to find. I loved it.

3. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel: I avoided this book for years because it looked so intimidating, but, duh, I spent my childhood obsessed with the Tudors, so of course I couldn't put it down. For some reason, I didn't like the sequel that much. Oh well.

4. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden: I've posted about this book a dozen times already, but it was one of the best books I've read in several years, and I think it's a very important book for Canadians to read so we can ponder our own history.

5. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I read this at the recommendation of a friend, though I'd also enjoyed Americanah. I knew next-to-nothing about Nigerian history before this book, and it drew me in to another world with fascinating characters.

6. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman: I read this for a school project, but now that I volunteer at the Holocaust library, it seems even more important and amazing to me. I loved that Spiegelman found a new and creative way to tell his father's Holocaust memoir. I also appreciated that Spiegelman didn't pull any punches or make his father a glossy hero, but told the real truth about their relationship and how his parents' Holocaust experiences impacted them and their son. Everyone should read this book.

7. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie: I'm not a huge fan of mysteries and wouldn't say that I loved this book, but it was one of those times that there was a plot twist that I absolutely did NOT see coming, and that's rare. I won't say more, but it seems to be a classic in the mystery genre as a result. Oh, and it's Hercule Poirot, so that gives it more adoration in my book!

8. American Gods by Neil Gaiman: Another book that I didn't personally love, but I found fascinated and well-researched and just plain impressive in its uniqueness.

9. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande: I talk about this book all the time and have personally recommended it to dozens of people. It's something we all are facing now or will face in the future, in terms of dealing with our own mortality and that of our loved ones, and he discusses heavy issues in a way that is engaging and thought-provoking.

10. Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden: Two young Cree men go to fight in World War One. We see their past and their current demons. I generally am not a huge fan of battle novels, but I could not put this one down, and I appreciated the unique approach that Boyden took. Basically, he could write a grocery list and I would read it now! :)

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Miscellaneous Updates

It's been several months since I did an update post, so in case you've been on the edge of your seat from some scintillating details about my life, here you go! :)

I'm so, so close to the end of my degree. We have three - count 'em, three - weeks of class left and I'm somewhat limping to the finish line. I have four more assignments left and I think I lost my motivation some time in February. No, really, I'm working hard to be done. I had to fill in my "intent to convocate" form recently, and it's sinking in that this is really happening. It's a bit of a bittersweet feeling, to be honest. It's been a great program, but this was always Plan B. Not a day goes by when I'm not sad that I'm in grad school instead of being a mother, and when the success of school is not a reminder of the failure to become pregnant. I'm happy, but I'm sad, and I can't look back at the last 18 months of school without also being aware that they were some of the hardest times of my life. Nevertheless, I'll keep swimming.

On the job front, I don't know if I actually posted about leaving my job at the church. It was a great run, but it was time. I was finding it increasingly difficult to juggle those responsibilities with school, and increasingly difficult to be in a family-centred workplace without children. Please, please, please do not badger your church receptionist about when she will have a baby. It is never fun to be asked about excruciatingly painful personal details when you have to put on a brave face and answer the ringing phone. Anyway, I still love the church, but it has been good to have it just be my church and not my workplace. Moving forward, I've applied to a few librarian jobs and even had an interview, but did not get that job. We will see what the future holds.

I posted a few months ago about the reality of my depression. I wish I could say that things are looking rosy, but at least I do truly believe that I am slowly getting better after finding a therapist. I'm talking about it more too. It still hurts every day, and I'm not sure it will ever stop, but the dark days are fewer than they used to be. Thank you to everyone who got in touch and extended their love.

As far as infertility goes, we may be moving forward, but I'm not ready to put it all in words yet as it's still not certain. I feel like recently I've finally accepted the fact that I will not have a big family. I always wanted 3 or 4 kids, but now that nearly 3 years have gone by trying, it's time to realize that just one child will be a miracle for us. Moreover, I can't do these three years again. I lost myself too completely and for too long to think about going down this road while trying to parent a child, so now I pray that God will give us just that one child. Gil and I have not talked much about this, but I feel like we have gotten closer in the past few months as I've been more vocal about how much I am hurting, so maybe we can be a family of two and be okay with that, one day.

Star Wars kitty. The Force is strong in him.
The only other thing worth updating about is my lovely cats. They make me smile every day, even though they also drive me nuts. Neville likes to chase Sadie around the house to play with her, which she does not particularly enjoy. They are our cuddly little furbabies and I don't think I could have made it through the last few months without them


Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR List

Whew, is it almost spring yet? The clocks have been changed, the robins are chirping, and I'm counting down every so (im)patiently until the end of term (3.5 weeks), so I guess it's nearly spring. This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic asks us to list what books we plan to read this spring. I've been doing a winter project of reading books on my Kindle that I purchased and forgot about, so I'm going to continue that until the end of term, so my first few are from that short list.

Kindle books:
1. Dreaming in Hindi by Katherine Russell Rich

2. The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman

3. Allan Quartermain by H. Ryder Haggard

4. The Thinking Reed by Rebecca West

Library books:
5. Quantum Night by Robert Sawyer: My dad met this author at a book festival once, and we've been fans ever since. I'm excited for his new book.

6. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert: I have no idea where I found out about this title, but I put an Overdrive hold on and now I'm next in line. Woo for sort-of-surprise reads!

7. My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel: I saw this on display and the title grabbed me. I've been wrestling with depression and anxiety over the past year, so it seems interesting.

Other:
8. Kim by Rudyard Kipling: In 2013, I found the Classics Club blog and made a list of 50 classics I'd like to read by June, 2018. This book is for the March-through-May spin, so I need to finish it by May ?

9. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein: I'm not going to lie. I have no idea why I added this to my TBR somewhat recently, but since it's near the top, I'm assuming there was some reason for it. I'm going to guess my sci-fi loving dad had something to do with it.

10. Tor! The Story of German Football by Ulrich Hesse-Lichtenberger: In anticipation of the European championship this coming June. :) 


Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books For When You're In The Mood For Something Creepy

Today's topic for Top Ten Tuesday is "Books to read if you're in the mood for X". I'm currently being reading a book that is deliciously creepy, so that's the topic that I chose. For creepy, I'm going with books that make the hair on your neck stand on end a bit, rather than gory. I'm not a big horror fan, but once in a while, I like to read something that scares me a bit.

1. The Diviners by Libba Bray: I'm reading this right now and it's spooky and fantastic. If I hadn't had three assignments due within a week, I would have spent all weekend reading this book!

2. Dracula by Bram Stoker: The quintessential scary book!

3. Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin: I read this nearly 20 years ago, but it still spooks me. The growing sense of terror has stayed with me for years, and the film scares me more than any blood and gore horror movie could.

4. The Shining by Stephen King: I could have chosen a whole round of King books, but there are so many and I read them ages ago. The Shining is the one that has stayed with me all these years. Is Jack just crazy? Is the hotel alive? This book is so deliciously scary.

5. Let the Right One In by John Lindqvist: I'm not super into vampires, but this book was eerie and great, and the Swedish film was fantastic.

6. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier: The housekeeper is so creepy. The ex-wife's legacy is so creepy. You never know who is to be trusted, and it's so gripping.

7. This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti: A Christian thriller that is straight-out terrifying at times.

8. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry: This is the second book The Giver series, and it is permeated by an air of being unsure who to trust and if there is something really wrong behind the scenes.

9. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle: Demon hounds?! That's pretty scary.

10. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn: This book drew me by its strong sense that there was something that was really not right about that town. So freaky.