Tag Archives: bookworm

Back from BC and SK.

I’ve recently taken two weeks to visit Saltspring Island in B.C. for a wedding, Nanaimo for play-time with my friend’s newborn baby, Vancouver for some intense games of Settlers of Catan and knitting and excellent food, Saskatoon for dinner with my future mother-in-law, and Lac La Ronge Provincial in northern Saskatchewan where Corey and I saw two bears and went fishing.

please ignore the smudges in the photo.

It was my first time fishing. I went out with Corey at 6am and we each caught two fish. Went back later in the evening with Corey’s youngest brother and I caught two more. I am now a pro, or a specialist as it says on the new fishing rod that Corey bought for me.

We stayed at a cabin in Lac La Ronge that belonged to Corey’s dad’s family. It slept six of us and it was the only cabin on the little island in the big lake. How lovely!

In the photo above, I’m working on the Pas de Valse cardigan. I got back into knitting on the trip, thanks to being around one of my dearest friends who is also a knitter in vancouver.

In fact, once we got home, we decided to make a small IKEA trip to get some new things for our home, since we plan to stay here a little bit longer. We came home with this:

knitting shrine.

It’s also a shrine to my friend, apparently, because she also took that graffiti photo, made/sent those cards, shares the same Nancy Pearl librarian figurine, and is in the photo with me which was taken during our trip to Portugal.

We also bought a ton of picture frames, and even got one for our Scott Pilgrim cartoon poster. Since we have decided to stay for at least another year in our current apartment suite, we decided to put more effort into actually decorating our place, rather than just slapping things up on the walls here and there.

In other news, I have started up a book blog called Little Owl Reads. I debated for a very long time whether to do a YA book blog or an adult book blog, but decided to just talk about books that I read, in order, because that’s probably easiest for me right now. Never mind the fact that I just started part-time work at a local children’s bookstore. I love YA fic and there are so many amazing YA blogs out there that I wanted to start one too, but realistically I could never read that much YA because I love adult fic too. So my blog will have a mix of the two. A good friend of mine from library school bought the domain for me as a gift!

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Rings and WIP.

So these are the wedding bands we chose:

Wedding bands.

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.

Cleopatra, by Stacey Schiff

Where have I been? Reading!

Cleopatra, by Stacey Schiff

I recently finished reading Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff. I bought it during Boxing Week at Chapters but only started it about a month ago. Although I found Cleopatra’s story and Schiff’s approach to her life very interesting, it was difficult for me to really get into because I knew I wasn’t absorbing all that I could.

There was a brief time in my teenage years when I wanted to become an Egyptologist, specifically Evy the librarian from The Mummy. Well, I became a librarian but I have yet to go to Egypt (and probably won’t anytime soon, considering the current issues in Cairo right now). I really wanted to read this book knowing the history and geography of ancient Egypt, but I’ve forgotten a lot of that history.

Even so, I think Schiff did a very good job of making Cleopatra’s story accessible. I most enjoyed reading about how we have made her into a pop icon today, and yet we know next to nothing about her personality, and nothing at all about her personal thoughts and opinions. Shakespeare, when he wrote about Cleopatra, was kind of writing fanfiction. We don’t have a lot to go on when it comes to studying this woman.

I would have liked to read more about the what-ifs; it seemed like this book was based more on the idea of “Cleopatra was probably…” rather than “What if Cleopatra…?” It must be fascinating to study a person we know so little about, and yet is a recognized icon around the world.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

This is my second time reading Graceling. What with working at a children’s/YA bookstore for three years, and then working at a library and finally working on an MLIS, I haven’t had much time for rereading books. It was good to finally reread a novel that I enjoyed the first time around.

Katsa is Graced, meaning that she was born with an inherent and enhanced ability. She is a warrior, killing and performing violent acts for her uncle, the king of one of the seven kingdoms. Graceling is a story about her journey from being her uncle’s pawn to an individual, independent young woman who fights for what she believes is right. Like with any story about a coming-of-age, she makes some interesting discoveries about herself along the way.

This book is perfect for teen girls (and adult women!) who like strong female protagonists and can’t bring themselves to read Twilight. It’s also great for Twilight readers, to expand their horizons on the fantasy genre and the idea of a female protagonist. Although I would classify Graceling as fantasy, it would also have appeal to readers who don’t normally read fantasy – it’s sort of medieval fantasy, and there is actually no real magic in it, just the idea that some people are born with enhanced abilities.

Lonely in Ottawa.

Corey’s gone away for four nights to attend his friend’s wedding, so I’m here in Ottawa on my own. It’s very strange – we just arrived on Sunday and spent a few days unpacking before Corey had to leave. I’m still not quite used to the house yet, but it’s getting there. I put away some more things today, so that helped me feel more settled in. I’ll take some photos once everything is set up.

The drive to Ottawa was great – cloudy for most of the way, which is just the way I like it. If it’s sunny, I squint a lot which makes my head hurt, and wearing sunglasses just makes everything tinted. Corey drove the U-Haul up, and Sarah and I each drove our separate cars, as she shared the U-Haul with us. We had a total of eight people unloading at Sarah’s house, and six people unloading at our new home. Having good friends to help you move is just lovely, especially after you’ve just driven 7 hours.

Anyway, now that Corey is gone for a bit, I’ve been trying to keep myself occupied. I went out today and bought myself a few treats. Well, the first “treat” was a little expensive, but it’s been planned for awhile so it wasn’t exactly a spontaneous purchase or anything. Let’s see what it is, shall we?

It came in this cardboard box:

Hmm.

Opening the box…

Is that... no, it can't be!

It can only be one thing…

Only one descriptive marking...

A brand new Pfaff Hobby 1132!

Dun-da-da-da!

I’m pretty thrilled. I gave away my mother’s sewing machine when we moved to Ontario. It was too heavy to ship, and it was constantly breaking down, so it wasn’t really worth the haul. I didn’t buy a new one when we moved to London because I knew I wouldn’t have any time to sew. Now that I’m in Ottawa with a co-op job lined up, I figured I would have some free time for some serious crafting. First, I’ll start off easy with some cushions. Next, I’ll attempt a slip cover for our ugly couch. This can go one of two ways: I spend hours figuring out the pattern, how to cut out pieces, whether I have enough to make separate covers for the cushions, etc.; or I can just kind of throw the fabric over the whole thing and see how it goes. So far I’m leaning toward the latter option.

But that’s not all! When I got home from my sewing outing, I decided to take a walk in the neighbourhood, which we haven’t done yet because we’ve been too busy unpacking. Corey and I live in the Westboro neighbourhood, which has tons of cool shops, gourmet eating, and outdoor adventure stores. (Kind of like Kitsilano or Kerrisdale in Vancouver!) We actually live just southwest of it, although it is within walking distance.

I actually didn’t explore Westboro proper today – but there are lots of great shops outside of Westboro too. I might have explored more but I got caught in a thunder shower and rushed home.

We live just under a 10 minute walk from the main drag, and today I passed such lovely spots as the Three Tarts Bakery, another bakery called Three Bakers and a Bike, a Chinese restaurant, a Thai restaurant, a sushi place, a fresh pasta store, local grocery store, a butcher, and a bookstore/coffee shop called Collected Works.

I see from the homepage of Collected Works that I should have bought the new David Mitchell book, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, but I didn’t see it otherwise I would have! Instead, the remainder of today’s treats include:

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende, Geist, and Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

I’ve already read Graceling but I loved it and would like to own it for rereading purposes. It’s a great novel for girls who like fantasy but aren’t into the whole Twilight business. It’s got an incredibly strong and believable female protagonist. I also haven’t read Isabel Allende for a long time so I thought I’d try her newest novel. Plus, I just needed a bit of Geist back in my life, as it is a Vancouver published literary magazine.

So that’s it. Now that I’m not buried in school work, I can update more.

The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova.

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.

Deloume Road, by Matthew Hooton.

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.