Category Archives: Reading

Reading: Ru by Kim Thuy

Ru Kim Thuy

I recently read Ru by author Kim Thuy, another book on the CBC Canada Reads list. A couple of weeks ago I read And The Birds Rained Down, a finalist on the same list. Both books were stellar and I read them in only a couple of days.

Ru is the story of a young girl Continue reading

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Reading: The Birds Rained Down & When The Saints

Halifax Public LibraryOne of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read 10 minutes every day. Growing up, I loved reading, and could often be found with my nose buried in a book.

While I was in university, I stopped reading for fun. Being forced to read hundreds of pages definitely turned me off. Strangely, I didn’t pick it back up when I graduated. I think part of this was because I found new ways to spend my time – on the computer with Facebook, Instagram, and other websites that allow me to wander mindlessly, wasting time.

Over the past year, I’ve had a desire to step away from my screen. That might seem funny considering I started this blog. But I find writing in here is purposeful and reflective, and allows me to grow personally. I wanted to step away from mindless internet browsing and return to more “slow” activities that cultivate good qualities in myself. Activities like photography, writing, cooking, and reading.

I’ve had a really difficult time getting back into reading. I just don’t know what I like to read anymore! A nasty residue leftover from university is that I want things I read to be educational and will somehow improve my knowledge of something. Those types of books are great, except they don’t really allow me to get lost in a world of characters and imagry.

Halifax Public LibraryYou know how you can pick up some books and can’t put them down until you’ve read the whole thing? It seems as though you are transported into a character’s life, as though they are a real person. You find yourself thinking about the story, even when you aren’t reading the book? And somehow, even when you’ve finished it, the story lingers with you?

I haven’t read a book like that in a long time.

Two weeks ago that changed! The Halifax Public Libraries have books on display that are “Rapid Reads”, meaning that you only get them for a week. They are usually some of the top-selling books, therefore are super easy to read. Normally I love to browse the bookshelves and pour over titles, trying to pick one that I think I would enjoy. However, having a young baby who just wants to MOVE has put a stop to this practice. On a whim, I decided to check out one of the Rapid Reads and give it a shot.

When-the-saints, rapid read, Halifax public libraryI briefly read the inside cover of When The Saints, by Sarah Mian, a Canadian author who lives in Queensland, Nova Scotia. This debut book is set in two fictional rural towns in Nova Scotia, and is about a broken, outcast family coming together and learning how to love. I thought it sounded pretty good.

It must have been good, because I finished it in 4 days. 4 DAYS!!! I loved it. The main character, Tabby Saint, is one that I quickly came to love. In terms of family names, she comes from the worst of the worst, she’s a Saint. When she is 14 she is shipped away to a school for troubled girls, and disappears for the better part of a decade. But she has come back to her old town, to settle her demons and help bring her family back together. This book is hilarious, crude, and wonderful. There is a great review in the Toronto Star here. I would recommend this book for sure. I’m really looking forward to more books by Mian.

The second book I read is And The Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier, another Canadian author. Originally written in french and translated to english, it the story of a photographer’s journey to chronicle the great bush-fires that occurred in Northern Ontario during the early part of the 20th century. In her search to speak to and photograph the last remaining survivors, she (the photographer) uncovers the story of a boy who walked through six days of inferno to find the twin girls he loved. Believing him to still be alive, her search takes her to some secluded cabins in the woods of Northern Ontario, where he lived with two old men who “disappeared” many years before. This unlikely party of 3 is later accompanied by an escaped elderly psychiatric patient who has never known life outside of the hospital. It is a wonderful story of tragedy, love, and lost love.I just loved the lyrical nature of the book, and to peek inside the lives of people who would rather stay hidden. An awesome book and excellent read.

birds

I read 2 books in 2 weeks and I am feeling so encouraged. I am going to visit my parents in PEI for a week, and their home is the perfect reading hide-away. I am excited to bring a few books with me – I hope I can curl up and discover new authors that I love!

 

 

Yarn Along: First Project Underway!

I’m joining in with Ginny at Small Things and Frontier Dreams. I’m happy to say that my first ever knitting project is well underway! I found this super-soft and luxurious yarn at Michaels a few weeks ago and knew that I had to do something warm and cozy with it.

YarnAlong-2Since I am a beginner, I decided that I wanted to do a scarf of some sort. I figured that this would be an easy project that might introduce me to patterns without being too overwhelming.

Naturally, I was drawn to hard patterns! I was drooling over scarves with intricate cables, but was dismayed about needing extra needles to accomplish the beautiful designs. I actually searched for quite a while to find something that was beautiful, challenging but not too challenging, and used the materials that I already had on hand.   weekend_scarf_mediumI found this beautiful scarf on Pinterest that used alternating rows of slip stitch and yarn over. I found these beautiful bamboo buttons and wanted to incorporate them somehow. I love infinity scarves and cowls, so I figured making something like that would be perfect.

The-Memory-Keepers-Daughter-August-Book-club-pick-via-ABFOL

On my trip to Calgary, I decided to re-read a book I’ve had on my shelf for the last 7 years. I could not remember the story, so I thought I would pick it up again! The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is the most beautifully sad book I’ve ever read. It is the story of loss, parenthood, and love. I found it so moving, especially now that I am a mom. I highly recommend it.

First Yarn Along (Finally!)

 

My first knitting "project"! Our instructor had us cast on and try a few different stitches.

My first knitting “project”! Our instructor had us cast on and try a few different stitches.

I’ve been following the Yarn Along through Small Things for a few weeks now. I have a keen interest in knitting and crocheting, but haven’t had any real opportunity to actually learn. I can finally post something I’m actually knitting!

With a new baby, I have discovered that having hobbies is a challenge! In order to have a hobby, one must actually devote some time to said hobby, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do when it is so much easier to give all my attention to my family and household. Josh and  I decided that we each need “me” time, so every 2 weeks or so I get to take 2-3 uninterrupted hours to do whatever I want to! I decided to take a knitting class at a super cute knitting store in downtown Halifax called The Loop.

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We stopped in a couple of weeks ago and they had all of these dreamy yarns ❤ I was so delighted to see a class list with knitting AND crochet!

TheLoop-1

My heart is just exploding with daydreaming about all the beautiful, cozy things I can knit with my new found skills.

It’s a little bittersweet though. For as long as I can remember, my grandmother tried to teach me how to knit. I was a tomboy when I was younger, so I had absolutely no interest in the things she longed to share with me.

By the time I was old enough to appreciate what she was trying to hand down to me, her eye sight and health had deteriorated too much to show me. So everything I make now is in memory of her.

This is the last time I saw my grandma out of bed. I finally told her I wanted to learn how to crochet. She made such a big effort to walk over to her bookcase, and took needles and books out for me. I cherish that moment.

This is the last time I saw my grandma out of bed. I finally told her I wanted to learn how to crochet. She made such a big effort to walk over to her bookcase, and took needles and books out for me. I cherish that moment.

One of her last projects had been sitting in the trunk at the foot of her bed. I tried to untangle all of the yarn!

One of her last projects had been sitting in the trunk at the foot of her bed. I tried to untangle all of the yarn!

An afghan of granny squares. I'm so excited to learn how to make them so I can finish it.

An afghan of granny squares. I’m so excited to learn how to make them so I can finish it.

You can see a few holes in it...I learned the basic technique for lace!

You can see a few holes in it…I learned the basic technique for lace!

I’ve discovered that the library carries lots of cute books for knitting. Guys, I am so excited!

 



Follow the Yarn Along!

What I’m Reading: The Girl from Loch Bras d’Or

Allene's Visit-3

The view from the Highland Village Museum, Iona Nova Scotia

Last summer a good friend came all the way from Calgary to visit me and Josh (and not-yet-born Joseph) here in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I absolutely love my home here on the East Coast of Canada and couldn’t wait to play tour guide!

After visiting my parents in PEI, we decided to take the ferry and do a quick visit to Cape Breton Island.

If any of you are familiar with Cape Breton, you might be familiar with this image:

The most famous view in Cape Breton: the Cabot Trail

The most famous view in Cape Breton: the Cabot Trail

It is an absolutely beautiful drive along the Cabot Trail up near the Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada. I knew that we would not have enough time to do that part of CB, so we decided to do a sight-seeing trip to a little less well-known spot: Bras d’Or Lake.

Map of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Map of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

We did the drive around Bras d’Or Lake, and stopped in to the cutest and most quaint little museum: The Highland Village Museum. It’s “a living history museum and cultural centre that celebrates the Gaelic experience in Nova Scotia.” Using buildings and actors, visitors are taken through the history of the settlement of Cape Breton. To this date, it has been one of my favourite vacation experiences and I highly recommend it to anyone who is visiting that part of Cape Breton.

Allene's Visit-4

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When we got back to Halifax, we decided to hit up some garage sales to see if my friend could find a legitimate Nova Scotian souvenir. That’s when we came across this treasure of a book!

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Penned by author Margaret MacPhail, it is a story about a young girl growing up on Cape Breton in the late 1800’s. More of a series of short stories than a novel, I am having such a great time reading this book and fantasizing about life back then.

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Before she left to go back to Calgary, my dear friend slipped the book back into my possession as a souvenir for me! Josh and I are planning a trip to Calgary soon, so I am bound and determined to finish the book so that I can bring it to her.

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Here are some of my favourite lines from the book so far:

“We of the young generation wanted no part in the old world.” (Ha! It seems the “young generation” hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years)

“We had roast goose, plum pudding, and the fixings. Every last bite, except the raisins in the pudding, came from our farm and garden.” (see..even they were interested in locally sourced food!)

“‘It’s and old saying, ‘When you eat fish don’t eat the bones or you may be choked.’ She went on placidly, ‘There is so much good in the Bible, you need not question what you don’t know.”‘ (There is some wisdom in that…I think…)

“It was a great day for Cape Breton when the Intercolonial railroad was completed to Sydney. It spelled an end for the Trader and costal schooners, that until then were the only available means in our area to send farm supplies to Sydney…What a fast, new world opened up for us!”

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Encountering the Idea

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Sailboats in Cape Breton NS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To dwell in the realm of ideas is far safer and less threatening than to encounter the reality of the idea.

– Fr. James Mallon in Divine Renovation on experiencing the Holy Spirit.

This quote really struck me from my latest readings of his book Divine Renovation (see here where I introduce it). Going to church can seem like such an ordinary part of my week that I take it for granted. Or while I’m at mass, I don’t truly dwell on what is really happening when I am there. If I did, would I not be overcome by God? Would I lift my hands and sing joyfully to my God? Or maybe there have been those moments when I have truly encountered the Holy Spirit in church but have felt paralyzed to truly express myself. Maybe I want to change that. Maybe I want to show God (and my community) how I really feel.

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Lighthouse in Cape Breton NS

 

What I’m Reading: Divine Renovation From a Maintenance to a Missional Parish

When we moved back to  Halifax in May, we moved in down the street from the largest Catholic parish in eastern Canada. My first time attending mass there was on a Tuesday morning during the week. Saint Benedict’s has a large physical space in the sanctuary, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it relatively full during a weekday mass. It was announced that there would be a coffee social in the lobby afterwards. That’s odd; usually those things are only sparsely attended on Sundays. Even more odd was when I couldn’t even make it out to said coffee social because so many old ladies kept stopping me to chat because they noticed I was new. What?! Catholics reaching out to me because I’m a new parishioner?! And old ladies are doing this?! I have never felt so welcomed and excited to be part of a parish community. I knew they must be doing something right.

Fr James

Well, Saint Benedict’s has this amazing parish community largely because my parish priest is pretty awesome. Fr. James Mallon is the man behind the book Divine Renovation: From a Maintenance to a Missional Parish. 

Divine RenovationI won’t go into a full book review because I think the title speaks for itself, but I highly recommend any person reads it who really wants to do something to improve the culture in their parish.

Our signed copy!

Our signed copy!

It is super easy to read – I definitely have some lines underlined, highlighted, and starred for future reference. I definitely recommend this book.

What are you reading?

Sincerely, Mallory