So these are the wedding bands we chose:
We contacted a metalsmith on Etsy to have them custom-made to our size, in palladium with this hammered texture. Her Etsy shop is singleBbeautiful. We originally wanted to go with a set that had an engagement ring and wedding bands, but then we didn’t want to have an engagement ring for me and nothing for Corey. As well, it was extremely important to us both that if there was a stone involved, it would have to be conflict-free – so to keep the cost down and stick to our values, the decision was made to scrap the idea of an engagement ring. We decided to contact a local jewellery store in Ottawa and the quote they gave us for white gold rings was just too high, especially for 14k white gold. The rings we ended up getting from this Etsy shop were less than half the price and made of the metal we wanted. Plus, I really like what she writes about using recyclable metals. So we’ve put them on chains and will be wearing them around our necks until the wedding, and that way we both have something to show off for our engagement.
In other news, I have actually been semi-knitting. I started work on this a long time ago, but it’s still a work-in-progress and I love the colours:
Simple Yet Effective Shawl by Laura Chau
I’m using Noro Kureyon Sock, and the colour changes are so delightful. I will be having a knitting night this Friday evening with a friend while our male counterparts play video games – so hopefully that will get me back into actual knitting instead of picking up a row here and there every few weeks. Maybe this yarn diet thing is really getting to me. I want to start a new project so badly, but I know I have so many projects to finish off (my Manu has been sitting with a half-made sleeve for approximately six months). So I’m in a self-imposed limbo where I want to knit, but I don’t, because I know that starting a new project is not a good idea right now and I have lost interest in old projects. I just need to rekindle that interest!
Oh, and two books I have recently read and enjoyed are:
The Passage by Justin Cronin, a futuristic, apocalpytic vampire story that is more sci-fi than it is fantasy. These are “vampires” created by the U.S. military by accident, not descendants of mythology. It is very gripping and suspenseful. It is the first in a trilogy, the next part to be released in 2012.
Seer of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier, the fifth in her Sevenwaters series. Originally, the first three books were thought to be a trilogy, but all of a sudden (at least, to her readers), Juliet Marillier began writing more. These are fantasy novels but have more of a folklore fantasy feel to them, not Tolkien. I enjoy her female characters, their adventures, and her settings, usually Irish landscapes. The stories are usually based around Irish mythology. Basically, if Juliet Marillier wrote it, I’ll read it. She’s recently expanded into YA fantasy, and those books are equally fun and exciting.
The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova.
A non-spoilery review.
I was excited to read the newest novel by Elizabeth Kostova, who published The Historian in 2005. I enjoyed the story a lot and at times I didn’t want to stop reading. In fact, The Swan Thieves became my bedtime reading novel, which I haven’t done in months so that must be a good sign. However, I did find some issues with the voice and characters.
The main character and narrator is male, but it took me a few chapters to really believe it 100%. In fact, I misread a sentence so I mistakenly believed that someone called him by a woman’s name, and I thought, “Oh good! It makes sense!” And then I realized that I had read the sentence wrong and that his name is actually Andrew. I thought the narration was very good, but it was difficult to remember the gender of the narrator at times. And in this case, the gender was important because of the romance elements.
I was at first put off by the idea that some of the chapters were narrated by women, mainly because I find it hard to switch from narrator to narrator when I’m putting so much emotional effort into understanding the first narrator and trying to think in a male voice. I ended up really enjoying them though, and I think it helped that they were women’s voices.
The mystery element was good, and I was very satisfied once the big reveal happened. Throughout the novel, there was an almost supernatural (but not scary) feel to the mystery, which was the big hook for me. As well, painters and painting were very important to the plot, and I liked reading about the idea of beauty and artistic processes.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable book, but not a stunning work.
I’ve definitely been neglecting this blog – and I’ll chalk it up to several interviews for co-op and a huge, time-consuming assignment that was due last Thursday. (Also several hours spent playing World of Warcraft, but we’ll ignore that one.)
Deloume Road, by Matthew Hooton.
I recently read Deloume Road, which I randomly picked up from the new books section at my local library. It’s set on Vancouver Island during the Gulf War, during a hot August, on lonely Deloume Road out in a tiny rural community. The lives of those neighbours are intertwined – a Ukrainian butcher who waits for his wife and son, a pregnant and widowed Korean woman, a Native artist whose son has crashed his plane in the wilderness, and the children who play in Deloume Road.
The novel definitely has that rural community aspect to it. The viewpoints shift as rapidly as every two or three pages, but the narrative remains smooth. The swift changes don’t jar the story at all. There’s a sort of underlying tone to the novel that there’s something in the narrative, waiting – kind of like the feeling you get on a restless summer day. Hooton has done an excellent job with conveying this atmosphere in the story.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
Alan Bradley, a Canadian 70-year-old first time novelist, has written a witty murder mystery set in 1950’s England. It is narrated by an 11-year-old girl named Flavia de Luce, who has a passion for chemistry and a penchant for poison.
I loved this novel. The sequel, The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag has just been released, and Bradley has a six book series deal planned.
The first person narrative is fantastic from Flavia’s point of view. Flavia is a smart, confident, know-it-all who keeps a notebook of scientific observations and has set up her own chemistry lab on her family’s property. When she finds a dead body in the cucumber patch, she isn’t so much scared as she is completely interested. It’s like reading Agatha Christie and Alexander McCall Smith in one novel. Flavia is a fantastic child narrator, with all the wit and intelligence of an adult. The following passage from the novel describes Flavia’s character quite well:
I made the Girl Guide three-eared bunny salute with my fingers. I did not tell him that I was technically no longer a member of that organisation, and hadn’t been since I was chucked out for manufacturing ferric hydroxide to earn my domestic service badge. No one had seemed to care that it was the antidote for arsenic poisoning.
I will be following this series eagerly.
The Sea Captain's Wife.
I picked up The Sea Captain’s Wife by Beth Powning purely for the cover and the hint of a mariner’s tale.
I love tales that take place on the high seas, and this was a good enough tale for me to devour in two bedtime readings. It left me with several questions though. No specific questions, really – mostly, I’m curious about the darker side of sailing as a captain’s wife on a ship of men. This novel hinted at something darker, but I wonder how dark it goes, how dark it can get before it becomes a different type of novel. I don’t want to say I question its authenticity, because I recognize that the author must have put a lot of effort and research into making this an authentic tale, but I guess I’m just curious about other kinds of tales involving women on ships. Considering they are unlucky to have around, and considering the superstition involving sailing back in this era, I am unconvinced that they all turned out as well as this particular novel, although there is no doubt that Azuba, the sea captain’s wife, faced her own horrors.
My favourite series at sea involving a female, however, remains the Jacky Faber series by L.A. Meyer. Looks like you can read a large chunk of the first one here on Google Books. Those books, however, have a very different tone than The Sea Captain’s Wife.
Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith.
A friend from my program mentioned this novel in class last week. The class was discussing magic realism novels, and most of the ones we could think of were set in South America. Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith is a novel by Gina B. Nahai set mostly in Iran, and partly in America.
The story opens in a Jewish ghetto in Tehran, where Roxanna the Angel is born. She dreams of the sea, and wakes in feathers. As with many magic realism stories, this one is generational. There are many mothers and daughters in this novel, which is narrated by Roxanna’s daughter, Lili. When Lili is five years old, she watches Roxanna sprout wings and fly off into the night. This novel tells the stories in Tehran leading up to that night, and the stories that happen afterwards in Los Angeles.
When I first picked up this novel at the library, it was a lot thicker than I imagined and the cover made it look emotionally and intellectually heavy. Actually, I read it in two days because I couldn’t put it down, and the writing is beautiful, lyrical, and very accessible. Because it is a magic realism book, it does have fantastical elements. The character names are mythic too, like Alexandra the Cat and Sohrab the Sinner.
I really needed a great book this week. With course work piling up and papers to be researched and written, I needed something to take me far far away, and this was it.