This Is Not My Canada.

As election day grows near – possibly the most important election in the last decade – I find myself growing increasingly disheartened. I came back to Canada a year ago after completing my masters degree in Ireland, to find that the Canada which I grew up in, once knew and was so proud of, has been changed under the reign of Stephen Harper – and not for the better. As I watch this election campaign unfold, I am increasing more concerned that if Stephen Harper is allowed to continue as our leader, the Canada our forefathers and previous prime ministers have worked so hard to build and which prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau put on the world map, may no longer exist. Canada’s coming of age under prime minister Trudeau was as a mature land, reserved but steady and strong enough to be open to the peoples of the world. Canada became a land which preserved the rights, responsibilities and dignity of all who came and made it their home and all were welcome.

In centennial year, 1967 when Canada was celebrating its diversity, multiculturalism and coming of age, my grandparents decided to make it their home. My grandfather had been a journalist in Karachi, Pakistan and was invited to immigrate to Canada to work as an editor at the Ottawa Citizen. My grandfather, Khalifa Muhammed Ihsanullah, had grown up as part of the Indian Muslim elite in Calcutta before the partition. His father K.M. Asadullah, was the first Indian to become the head of the Imperial Library in Calcutta when the British quit India. My grandfather was an inspired youth as the end of the Second World War resulted in the creation of a new land for Muslims, Pakistan. He wanted to do his part in nation building and believed journalism was the vehicle through which he could inspire people and contribute. However, as the fledgling nation floundered under military rule, censorship, fear mongering and freedom of the press was blocked, my grandfather decided to accept a second invitation to work in Canada from the Ottawa Citizen.

My grandmother reluctantly agreed to a five year plan in Canada, a plan that would take her away from everything she had previously known. My grandparents with their three young daughters, the youngest just ten months old, left their large established families, friends, and upper middle class life in Karachi to move across the world to an unknown. Another young country working to establish its individual character, values and ideals in the global arena.

I am a first generation Canadian. I spent my childhood listening to the stories my grandmother told of her life as a civil engineer’s daughter in British India. I now realize that my 81 year old grandmother is a feminist whose individualism was nurtured by a father who insisted on taking his wife and nine children with him wherever he travelled for engineering projects in India. She created a life and a home in Ottawa for her husband and daughters – Renaissance woman that she is – cooking, sewing, knitting, gardening, snow shoveling, finishing the basement by reading self help books. It was my grandmother who made the decision to stay in Canada permanently. She insisted that her young daughters would have the education and freedoms to be who ever they chose to be in this new country that had become her home – the country my grandfather always declared was “the best country in the world.” All I knew as a child growing up close to them, and even more so now that I am an adult, is that my grandparents were two of the bravest people I’ve known in my life. It is their experience of a Canada which welcomed them and which they adopted as their own which has shaped my view of the country of my birth.

We take for granted what it means to be Canadian. The privilege and opportunity we are all afforded just by being born on Canadian soil. Canada has been recognized the world over as a peacekeeper, mediator and generous contributor in times of need in the world community – a country that accepts the differences in people, in fact, a country that has built itself on the foundation of multiculturalism and human rights. We are a nation known for our universal health care system and our public school system which are the true evidence of democracy and equal opportunity for all our citizens. We have been recognized as a nation of tolerance and acceptance and our thoughtful, reflective response in times of crisis.

In the late 1960s, when my grandparents first moved to Canada, the country was only just finding its feet in its multicultural identity; Canada was only just making the moves towards unity and overcoming divisions. And as the 1960s turned into the 1970s, under PM Trudeau’s leadership, Canada was being recognized as a country of opportunity and acceptance, a country where ones culture and religion was respected and upheld, where one did not have to sacrifice ones beliefs or identity for the sake of ‘becoming Canadian,’ no matter ones skin color, race, creed, culture or religious beliefs.

My nani and nana immigrated to Ottawa and became Canadian. They held Canadian passports and admired and loved the country they lived in. My grandfather was always so excited to show off his city to visiting relatives and looked forward to sharing the country he loved with the people he loved. My grandmother was a pioneer woman. Her strength of character and will saw her family through the massive transition of living in a completely unknown land. When my grandparents came to Ottawa they were one of the few Muslim families at that time. I took for granted all that my grandparents built here when I was young. They made friends with neighbours and built a community for themselves from scratch – I don’t know that that kind of bravery exists nowadays, with a new generation of people glued to their cell phones and laptops, desensitized, with communication whittled down to strokes on a keypad.

My grandparents helped build a Mosque – the very first one in Ottawa – donating their time, what money they could spare, and fundraising with dinners, bake sales and an ever popular multicultural Muslim Cookery book (now in its twentieth printing) with recipes contributed by Canadian Muslim ladies from around the world to raise money for construction. My grandparents were born in Pakistan and yet they are proudly Canadian.

My mother grew up in Canada. She went to elementary, and middle school and high school in Ottawa (at all the same schools I attended as a child). She received her Bachelors degree from Ottawa U and went to teacher’s college in Kingston. She spent her thirty year teaching career at her alma mater Colonel By Secondary School and Sir Wilfred Laurier Secondary school in Orleans and devoted those thirty years to being the a best teacher she could be, the best role model for her students. One of the classes my mother taught was World Religions. She gave her students an understanding of the common values taught in all religions and how important it is to live those values and become a fully mature human being. My mother was born in Pakistan and has in no way sacrificed her cultural or religious beliefs in order to be Canadian.

It is abhorrent to me that the Prime Minister of this country I have so admired, is making it his mission to disable the foundations this country’s reputation has been built upon. Stephen Harper is intolerant. He is the opposite of what a Canadian Prime Minister should model and be – closed off, secretive, disrespectful to this country’s citizens and hell bent on instilling unjust fears and prejudices through out the nation. His recent decent into fear mongering and allowing politics to have a place in ones right to choose personal religious beliefs is unjust. He is making it possible for society to be prejudice and intolerant under the veil of governmental law. No Muslim or Pakistani woman in my family has ever worn a hijab or a niqab. The choice to wear these items is a cultural choice made by some Muslim woman; it is not a requirement of the religion. It is a woman’s choice.

The fact that Stephen Harper feels it is his right to dictate what a woman should or should not wear is frankly sexist and inappropriate for a leader. The fact that he is even bringing this debate into the election discussions points at a last ditch effort to disable important discussions and distract from the real issues that concern our nation. When he talks about denying people their citizenship it smacks of a fundamental disrespect for human rights. “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” as Justin Trudeau eloquently put it. When a Prime Minister, the representative of our country, talks about revoking an immigrants citizenship if they commit a crime, he immediately devalues any person who chooses to immigrate to this country. He relegates them to second class citizen status and makes it immediately clear that he has no respect for the generations of Canadians who moved to this country and helped to build Canada and make it the nation it is today! I find Stephen Harper’s politics offensive as the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants. Under his current view, my grandparents and my mother, who have devoted so much to this country would be considered second class citizens. After over 50 years in Canada, their contributions and devotion to this nation would mean nothing, their rights and privileges up for the taking.

He is trying to create a problem where there is none and throws our country back to a time of intolerance and ignorance. We have dark blots in our nation’s history, times of prejudice and intolerance for our neighbours. Canada interned Japanese people during the Second World War based solely on their race and heritage, regardless of their citizenship, regardless whether they had been born in this country. This nation has denied our Native peoples their basic rights in their own homeland and in some cases continue to do so. With his words and intent, Stephen Harper seems determined to continue that tradition of fear mongering and prejudice which goes against everything that Canada has stood for. The fear mongering and censorship of freedoms my grandfather left behind in Pakistan so many years ago is what Canada is now moving towards under Stephen Harper’s leadership. Is this what we want for Canada? A divisive, intolerant nation built on fear? With current anti-Muslim views built on fear and ignorance of the culture and beliefs, that is the tradition we as a nation are building if we allow Stephen Harper another term in government.

From the moment this election was called, I knew where my vote would go. Justin Trudeau has a strength of conviction and the vision to carry Canada forward and repair damages done by Stephen Harper’s conservative government. Canada is now at a crossroads; one I did not feel until I returned to the country of my birth after living abroad for several years. We can continue down our current path of division and intolerance of our own people, or we can move forward together to become a more mature, seasoned example of peace, stability and a diverse and inclusive society. We must remember that on the global map, Canada has always been recognized as a multicultural nation, a cultural mosaic that includes rather than excludes. We were built by those who chose to make Canada their home. It is our duty to stand up for their rights, for the rights of every Canadian and say – we do not want to lose our identity.

Autumn TBR List

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photo courtesy of Pinterest

I absolutely adore autumn. It is by far by favourite season and October would be one of my favourite months! I’m a person who loves atmosphere, especially as a writer. I especially love those cool crisp mornings when the sun is shining through the blue clouds and the leaves are turning from that delicate yellow to amber and orange. I love the transition into winter, the slow progression from the hot days of summer to the colder days of winter. I love cuddling up in cozy jumpers and pulling out my lovely boots. And let’s not forget the brilliance that is Thanksgiving and Turkey Time.

I haven’t been back home in Canada during the fall for about two years and am really looking forward to spending Thanksgiving and my favourite season at home. I live in a really great neighbourhood where there are tons of old maple trees just waiting to drop their coloured leaves. I live not far from the Gatineau hills, which let me tell you are amazing this time of year, and not far from many great city walks. I’m looking forward to apple picking and those lovely cinnamoney mini donuts you get afterwards. Freshly baked apple pies and hot chocolate. So much to look forward to, not the least of which is settling down with some good books!

I have a great local library at home which stocks all the latest books as soon as they come out and plan to renew my library card as soon as I get off the plane…or at least within a few days of landing. I’ll then be curly up on my couch and settling in to some good stories.

These are the books I’m most looking forward to reading:

 

I want to do a re-read of Anna and the French Kiss before reading the latest Stephanie Perkins book so I can refresh my memory on the characters, so there’s one more book to add to the list :P. I’ll also be a busy beaver most of September and October settling into the move back home and doing some minor renos on the house so we’ll see how many of these books I actually get through before I go into winter hibernation. But here’s hoping I at least get a few under my belt!

So what are your most anticipate autumn reads?

Deadly Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

13024972Deadly Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock really surprised me. I’m not sure I had a preconceived opinion about this book, if anything, all the reviews I read lead me to believe the story was really good, but after deciding I might be over YA books after reading a few downers I went into this book with interest but not excitement.

I have to say I was thoroughly impressed. Deadly Hemlock isn’t your typical werewolf novel. It’s a cross between a bit of a dystopian and supernatural world where werewolves are humans who have come down with Lupine Syndrome, a disease that is running rampant and can be caught by a werewolf scratch of bite. The government has made werewolf rehabilitation camps to heard all those found to carry Lupine Syndrome and let’s just say it’s a dangerous time for any and all suspected. The Trackers are a group who will use any and all force necessary to subdue and intern werewolves and aren’t above extreme violence and underhanded tactics to further their cause. Hemlock is a small town set in an act first, ask questions later society. Where even the mere whiff that you might be a werewolf could mean extreme danger for your family and anyone close to you. 

The main character Mac is still reeling after the murder of her best friend Amy who was killed a year prior to the start of the book as one of four victims in a series of werewolf killings. The wolf responsible was never caught and there are several questions left to be answered. Mac’s best friends Kyle and Jason (Amy’s boyfriend) are all haunted by her death and are dealing with her loss in different ways. I really liked the dynamic between the three friends. Although a slight love triangle develops, I thought it was interesting and not annoying like so many love triangles can be. Mac was pretty oblivious, and then pretty clear on who she cared for and I liked that. She loves both boys, but love loves one in particular. My only gripe where the characters and relationships are concerned, is that as I read on I realised more and more that the relationship dynamic between the four friends was very very similar to those in the tv series Veronica Mars.

The similarities grew stronger after I realised and although it’s not a downfall of the book, the relationships are also not that original. They worked in the tv series (which I’m a huge fan of) and worked for this book as well.

I have to say I was really caught up in this story, I liked all the characters and enjoyed the murder mystery angle as well as the serious sense of danger this world presented. The whole Lupine Syndrome and treatment of werewolves debate that is presented throughout the story is clever and engaging and also could be quite the comment on our own society and the treatment of people society sees as ‘other’.

The story was full of action, the love story heated and sweet and engaging. I changed my mind about Kyle and Jason and their characters several times through out the book and have to say I enjoyed that. I like when characters surprise you and keep you on your toes. I really thought Kyle was going to end up being the too good to be true best friend, kind of milk toast, but I really liked seeing where his character went. I expected to really prefer Jason, but his character had his ups and downs as well and I ended up liking him and hating him a bit. Mac was easily likable and relatable and a good solid main character.

This book made me tense and excited and I couldn’t put it down once I sunk my teeth in. A really great first book! Can’t wait to pick up the next two in the series and see how it all pans out.

It’s this kind of story that made me love YA.

Books with All the Hype

Books get hyped up all the time! One person loves it, writes an amazing review, tells all their friends about it and voila, it’s the newest ‘it’ book and for the few months until the next ‘it’ book gets published or the movie version is made, that book is the only one we all have to read.

I’ve been sucked in by the glowing reviews of books and the hype behind them, but honestly, more often than not, unless I’ve had previous experience with the author and really loved them, I tend to avoid those books that everyone is talking about. It’s not a mean thing on my part, but generally when something is so worshiped I think I tend to be harsher and more critical and thus my enjoyment is diminished. Also, some books with all the hype are just shyte.

In thinking about a few of the books that have been really big hitters in the past year or so, I got to thinking about the books in that group that I have read and maybe possibly enjoyed, but ultimately fell short of my love shelf.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – There is a serious love fest going on for this author and her books. The first book I read of Rainbow Rowell’s was Attachments and I read it right before she took off as the next ‘it’ writer with her quirky characters and cute young adult books. I didn’t really love Attachments, her adult novel, but it was okay, enjoyable enough. So when I started hearing all the praise for Rowell’s young adult fiction and her latest, Eleanor & Park, I thought ‘why not’, I may well enjoy her YA more than her contemporary adult novels. No such luck though. I started reading Eleanor & Park and although it wasn’t bad, it just didn’t grab me. I wasn’t invested in the characters or their story and ended up putting this one down half way through and eventually parted with my copy.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick – This was a book I first heard about from the Goodreads community. I believe it was self-published first and then when it really started getting attention, was re released in paperback form. I just went back and looked at my review of this book and this is what it said – “it was entertaining and a fun summer read but I kind of lost a bit of interest for it about half way through when the “issue” arose.” I can’t remember what the ‘issue’ was! I think maybe it had to do with Sam’s mother cause there’s another line I wrote that made me remember bits about how much I disliked the mother in this story, but other than that – nothing. If I can’t remember the story, I know this book didn’t make an impact on me.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – I picked this one up long after the hype surrounding this book had started. I had read another suspense story and was yearning for another good read. The one word to describe this book is boring. I kept reading, waiting for some sort of impact, some sort of ‘aha!’ moment but it never came. I found it kind of predictable and just not nearly as exciting as all the great reviews had made it out to be. As a psychological thriller, or exploration of the human psyche, it didn’t do much either.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James – UGH! Don’t even get me started on this piece of shit of a book. I hated from the word go. A friend suggested I might like it because I like romance books, but I knew from the little I’d heard of it when it was still a self-published Fanfic story that I wouldn’t because of the BDSM context. It’s just not my cup of tea. Why did I pick this up then? Well, I guess I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I’d heard so many debates about it from women who both loved and hated it and the more I heard the more I wanted to have my already forming opinion based in something. So, I read it. And suffered for it. If you want to read my review of this book go here – Fifty Shades of Grey Review. I hated it! Hate this book, hate the writing, hate that the book that got women to be okay and proud of reading romance books (if you can even call this book that) is this one. There are so many better romance reads out there and this book and its writing and the fact that this book got published when so many others didn’t is a real shame.

Clockwork Prince & City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare – I read Clare’s Mortal Instruments series way back at the beginning before it was huge and have to say at the time I really loved the series. I remember talking fondly of the characters and thought the story was really original. As time went on and Clare garnered more popularity and the series blew up into a mega hit I grew tired of the talk and also wondered why she kept recycling the same old story and love triangle only setting it in the Victorian era? I read the Infernal Devices series because I love Victorian England and thought maybe the story would pull me in, but nope. I was bored from book 1-3. It was the same story from Clare’s first series, only with a vague bit of steampunk thrown in, cause steampunk was big at the time, and a more annoying protagonist and love triangle. There was no need to continue the Mortal Instruments series from it’s 3 book status to 6, that was purely a capitalising move rather than quality move and I think the original series has suffered for it.

Me Before You & The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes – I read Me Before You first and remembered enjoying it, it was a nice chick flicky type summer read. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that either as I really enjoy picking up those easy types of read every once in a while. The book was good and entertaining, but when the plethora of glowing reviews came along for this book I was left wondering if I’d missed something. Although I enjoyed the story and characters, I’m not sure I agree it was such the tear jerker people claimed. Also, The One Plus One which I read earlier this year, was again okay and entertaining enough, although I’d say the characters, mainly the two adult characters of this novel were kind of annoying and exasperating which grated on my enjoyment of the story.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – Although this book came out years ago and has been a bit of a cult classic since, I can’t really remember it. Since its recent revival this past month with the premiere of the TV version of the book I thought I’d add this one in. I read it years back on the recommendation of a friend but remember finding it kind of slow and unexciting. I think I actually may have stopped reading about three quarters of the way through…it’s a long book.

I know opinions vary, and I’m sure many are fans of some of the books I’ve just put down…(oops) but reading is very subjective I think and as I’ve grown older, I’ve turned into a harsher critic!

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

6224935I read this book after seeing the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of this story. The film cast is full of great actors like Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman and Rose Byrne. With an all star cast and a funny looking premise I was keen to see how the book would read.

This is Where I Leave You is a funny and sarcastic view of family and what it means to be a sibling, father, mother, sister, wife and friend. There is all kinds of family drama coming home to roost in this book after the Foxman family patriarch dies after a lengthy battle with cancer. Mother Foxman insists that her four adult children and their partners stay the week to sit shiva for their father. The kids do so reluctantly and so starts the humours and at times heartfelt story.

I liked each character for different reasons and really liked the voice of Judd Foxman who is the main character and narrator. After ten years of marriage, Judd has recently started divorce proceedings with his wife Jen after catching her in an affair. Honestly, I wanted to hate Jen a bit longer and wasn’t quite convinced Judd would have that easy a time forgiving her as he hoped. I won’t go into detail, the ending itself remains hopeful but kind of ambiguous and I liked that. I kind of wanted to make up my own mind about where everyone will go from there.

The book is full of humour and silly family moments, bringing all the kids back to their teenager selves as they interact with each other as siblings would regardless of age. I liked the ‘realness’ of the interactions and thought the relationships were well done. I especially liked the character of Phillip, youngest child and eternal screw up in the eyes of his family. I liked his emotional nature, the way he just said what he thought and always wanted to look on the bright side. I also really liked his brotherly relationship with older brother Judd.

Although this book isn’t a deep look at families and could have maybe done with a bit more depth, it was humourous and engaging and a really fun summer read.

Looking forward to seeing how the film compares.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a – J.K. Rowling)

18214414For anyone who read my review of The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first installment in this detective series, you’ll understand that it’s with a heavy heart that I have to confess that this sequel fell short for me.

Characteristics I noticed in J.K.’s writing from the first book, but chose to ignore, was one of the main reasons this book grated on me. This may be a controversial statement given her extreme popularity with all the HP lovers, but I really found her writing quite pretentious. There were times I was scratching my head as to why she chose to use these long meandering words when one short one that would create the same effect would do. Is she trying to prove how smart she is?

I’m sorry, that may sound harsh but it really started to grate on my nerves. There was a sense of the story seeming over written, too formal and wordy and it really did my head in at times.

The story itself, being reunited with Cormoran Strike once again was obviously what kept me reading. The actual plot was okay, but not as interesting or investing as the first novel. The disappearance and then murder of little known author Owen Quine has Strike on the case and I enjoyed getting to see Cormoran back in action, but the actual mystery was kind of boring. None of the characters drew me in or were nearly as compelling as the characters in the Cuckoo’s Calling. They all fell flat and I didn’t really feel for anyone.

I even lost a bit of respect for Strike, but honestly I think this was down to the way he was portrayed due to J.K.’s uneven writing. He seemed more like a cardboard cutout of a detective than in the first novel when I was hoping to get a bit more from his character, learn more about him, delve a bit deeper. I honestly would have expected this of an author like J.K. Rowling but several of her characters seemed one dimensional. Especially Robin, Strike’s protege who Strike claims is smart and not fussy or demanding, but who gets all weepy and annoyed and gives him the silent treatment when he doesn’t respond to a question the way she’d like, or snaps at her because he’s in his own head, or doesn’t even do anything at all! She gets mad at Strike when she’s annoyed at her fiance for being a jerk! Robin isn’t as easy going or carefree as she is described, her actions make her seem really needy and docile and frankly hard work. Again down to the writing.

I know this all seems very harsh and I guess I’m only now realising how much certain things annoyed be while reading this book. Because of how lauded and author J.K. Rowling is, I expect more. I expect deeper characterisation, I expect continuity in character and I would expect the way a character is described to match the way they act. All this was missing a bit for me in The Silkworm. It’s really unfortunate given how excited I was to get my hands on this book.

I’ll still read the next book and I did enjoy this one to a certain extent, but unlike the first in the series, the story wasn’t enough for me to ignore the finer points of irritation

 

Meanwhile in Canada…

This post comes with a mix of real excitement at the prospect of the next phase in my life and also, a real sense that in the next 10 weeks I will start to seriously miss Belfast and Ireland.

I138468fcbf9902c498678a0adc847e08‘ve made the decision to move back home! I’ve been living abroad in Ireland for almost 3 years now and although I have seriously loved my time here, and so many wonderful and life changing moments have happened to me here, I am really truly looking forward to going home.

 

I made the decision in my mind quite a while ago, and decided definitely that it was going to happen around March. There were a lot of factors that went into my decision and a lot of things to consider, not the least of which was that my boyfriend lives here.

I won’t bore you guys with all the reasons behind my decision, but I will explain a few that seem topic appropriate for this blog.

When I first made the decision to move to Ireland, it was following my graduation from university and I was looking for an adventure. I have Irish blood thanks to my dad’s side of the family and did a minor in Irish studies at uni, so I was primed to move to the Emerald Isle and discover it for myself.

Living abroad has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life so far and I wouldn’t take back a minute. But, something changed in me while living in Belfast. After I finished my masters degree in Dublin and was officially out of my student phase of life, the next phase of my adulthood started in earnest when I moved up to Northern Ireland.

I learned a lot about myself while living in Belfast and grew stronger I think, while also realising that as time went on, I wasn’t necessarily achieving what I had moved to Belfast to achieve. I wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be.

My main reason for moving to Belfast to start my ‘grownup life’ was to focus on my writing. I wanted to live in a place to fuel my ideas. I wanted to keep discovering more about life and myself in order to keep fueling and advancing my writing. I finished my first novel in Dublin and was now in the stage of getting it fixed up to try and publish.

Belfast, although a great little city, wasn’t home. I realised more than anything that I am without a doubt a Canadian writer. To me, this means my writing is inspired by and fueled by my experiences growing up as a first generation Canadian. I always set my stories in small towns, usually in Eastern Ontario somewhere. I love writing scenes to do with snow and all the beautiful and unique things that make Canada such a great country (okay I’ll stop with all the patriotic waxing poetic now…)

My discovery of who I am as a writer could not have really hit home had it not been for my time living abroad. While I edited my novel and re read passages that had been written while I was living in Montreal, in Ottawa, in Dublin and in Belfast I came to realise the one thing that never changed in my book. How much love went into describing place and setting.

So that’ part of it. Then I started to grow frustrated by the fact that I didn’t really have a real space of my own to write and relax. Living with roommates is fun and has its benefits to a point, but I think I’ve grown past the stage where I want to live with other people. I want a home of my own so I can nest and do what I want and not have to worry about other people. That may sound a bit selfish, but that’s part of growing up isn’t it? Finding a place to call your own?

So, I’m moving back home. To the house my mum and I bought the summer before I started my last year of high school. To the first house my mum has owned on her own and the first one we’ve had together just the two of us. It’s a really special house and the last place I can really remember having a proper writing schedule. I used to get up every morning and write at the desk facing our front window and I loved it. It was the time I felt most at ease in my writing.

Now for things I’m most looking forward to: There are a few little renos that need to be done on the house. We’ve been renting it out while my mum and I have both been living abroad and now that I’m coming back (my mum is still living abroad) it’s a chance for me to breath a bit of fresh air into the rooms and make it my own. My boyfriend will be moving over with me and I’m excited to have a place of our own and make it comfy and cozy for the both of us. I’m also really excited for him to see where I come from and show him all the things I love about Canada. (Poutine anyone?) Showing him all the sites will give me a chance to rediscover my own country.

For a bit of bookish excitement – I’m most looking forward to getting all my boxes of books out of storage and setting them free back onto the bookshelves again. I had to pack up the majority of my books and only brought a select few to Ireland with me. It was sad times but I am so looking forward to seeing all my books again. It’ll be like Christmas morning, remembering which books I actually own!66a5189c75d3714e3bbf5f6967be99ca

 

 

I’m looking forward to starting a new phase in my life and discovering what comes next.

Wish me luck!

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

17684327Confession time – I’ve never read anything by J.K. Rowling. Never read the Harry Potter series, never read Rowling’s first foray into adult literature with The Casual Vacancy.

When I picked up The Cuckoo’s Calling, I was excited and intrigued. A part of me was worried though that I wouldn’t end up liking this book. Boy, was I wrong! I devoured this book, I wanted to put everything on hold to sink into this story. I also immediately wanted to pick up the next in the series, which isn’t released until June 24th.

I really enjoy a detective novel, I loved The Maltese Falcon, get a kick out of Sherlock Holmes and love watching murder mysteries and ‘who done its’ on TV. The Cuckoo’s Calling was such an intriguing read. It had great descriptions of place and characters and I felt through out the whole story that I was in London, visiting all the places Cormoran Strike was taking me.

Speaking of Cormoran, what a great character! He was real and down to earth. He was strong, although battered and wasn’t the typical shinny, handsome detective. Instead he felt so much like a real man you’d meet on the street and want to be friends with. He was intelligent, heartfelt, caring and insightful.

I loved his blossoming friendship with Robin, how it started rough and grew to respect and a definite fondness. Robin was a character that took a bit warming up. She wasn’t exactly off putting, but a bit needy, I found. Needy of responses from her fiance and Strike and unhappy when she wasn’t acknowledged to the extent she expected. It was kind of annoying at first, but I could see how these traits fit with her personality and her growth by the end of the novel.

The story itself was a great murder mystery. It was clean and fresh and exciting in the sense that readers really were taken through the process step by step. Everything that Strike had to calculate and detect and figure out, readers were there to witness.

Readers are brought into a glamourous, high flying lifestyle of famous model Lula Landry, thought to have committed suicide on a cold January night. Not so according to her devoted adoptive brother who is determined to bring his sister’s killer to justice. And so, we’re wrapped in this mystery of a woman the whole world thought they knew, but no one really knew at all. We hear tales of Lula’s life from all different perspectives and characters and it only helps in making the reader more invested.

I can’t say enough good things about this read. I’ve given this review a few days to get my thoughts together, but I’m not sure they even are or will be soon. All I can really say is that I loved it and can’t wait to invest myself in the next book, The Silkworm.

If you love J.K. Rowling, or mystery novels or just a great read to sink your teeth into, pick up The Cuckoo’s Calling. A clever story to get invested in. Still feeling the book withdrawal.

Still Life by Louise Penny

10466342It can’t be denied that part of what I enjoyed most about this novel was the setting.

Still Life, the story that follows Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is set in the sleepy town of Three Pines, Quebec, Canada. From Canada myself and having grown up 10 minutes from a part of Quebec I am quite familiar with the small towns the province has to offer. The setting was close to my heart and the mention of Montreal especially, the city where I went to university, was a fun treat.

The discovery of a dead body in the woods over Thanksgiving weekend brings Chief Inspector Gamache to Three Pines to investigate the close knit community where one resident is a killer.

The story, although hailed as a mystery/detective novel, is actually a great look at small town life and its inhabitants as well as the psyche of individuals molded by their experiences. The title is appropriate in many a context.

I’ll admit it took me a bit to really get into this read. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it from the first because I did. The writing is gentle and smooth and pulls you in. I’m actually not sure why it took me so long to pick up this book in full. I kept reading a few pages here and there and every time I picked it up I enjoyed it! But then I would get distracted by another read and put Still Life aside. When I finally did pick it up in earnest last week I read through it really quickly. The characters are intriguing and Gamache a nice change in pace. He’s a dedicated and intelligent detective, kind and compassionate and very intelligent. His character was what made this book so interesting to read.

As the story continued and the descriptions of the town kept on, I became more and more invested in the story of Three Pines and its residents. Their lives were still and quiet on the surface and yet full of dust and secrets when the layers were pulled back. The setting itself was charming and idyllic and yet it was marred by this murder that no one could quiet get their heads around.

Still Life was really well described and reminded me of home. I definitely intend to pick up the next in the series. Not your typical detective novel, but really well written with compelling characters.

A (writing) Place to Call Your Own

More and more I’ve realised how essential a proper writing space is in the great chasm that is being a writer. When I lived back home and was finishing off my first novel, I had a beautiful old mahogany desk to work at. The desk was my grandfather’s, who was an editor and I felt so good about writing down my story while sitting at that desk. It was positioned in front of the bay window in my house, in the room my mum and I dubbed ‘the library room’ because it also housed five floor to ceiling shelves full of our books. The room was great for fueling my inspiration, being able to look out the window everyday and watch the world pass buy as I wrote. The months I spent at home that winter was the first time I’d had an official writing space, somewhere I could wake up and go to each morning. Those months were the only time I’ve been disciplined enough to write each day, to work consistently and come out with a finished product.

Since I moved to Belfast and started working I’ve struggled with finding the time to buckle down and write. I’ve also been feeling more on edge because I haven’t had that dedicated time. Lately, in the past few weeks or so, I’ve finally been able to have a bit more time for my work and its only made me crave more. My dream is to be able to construct my days around my writing work. To wake up each morning, make myself a nice cup of tea and sit down at my laptop, open that word document and type my heart out.

I live in a house with two other flatmates and because it’s a shared house of course you can’t do things up the way you might like or create that designated space. My room also isn’t big enough to fit a desk.

I’ve been writing in bed, which is fine at first but isn’t great for my concentration when my cozy pillows are whispering my name and tugging me back into sleepyville. I’ve tried coffee shops, but it’s an effort to lug your laptop, plug and notes to a coffee place and have to tune out the noise. I know what works for me and what doesn’t, but I need to find that balance again.

I’ve always dreamed about what my future office might look like. I used to imagine it with dark woods and a fireplace and cozy leather armchairs to sit in. Now I imagine it lighter, a room that has ample light and windows with a great view. I want bookshelves on one wall, my desk facing the windows, comfy cozy chairs for visitors to sit in or for me if I just want to take a break from the desk.

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I can’t wait to have a writing room of my own again!