Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: The Cottage at Glass Beach

The Cottage At Glass BeachTitle: The Cottage at Glass Beach
Author: Heather Barbieri
Series: N/A
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: May 15,2012
Format: ARC
Pages: 302
Dates Read: March 13-16 2016
Source: Won via Goodreads First Reads
Add on Goodreads
My Rating: 3 Stars
Snippet That Stuck With Me:

Married to the youngest attorney general in Massachusetts state history, Nora Cunningham is a picture-perfect political wife and a doting mother. But her carefully constructed life falls to pieces when she, along with the rest of the world, learns of the infidelity of her husband, Malcolm.

Humiliated and hounded by the press, Nora packs up her daughters—Annie, seven; and Ella, twelve—and takes refuge on Burke's Island, a craggy spit of land off the coast of Maine. Settled by Irish immigrants, the island is a place where superstition and magic are carried on the ocean winds, and wishes and dreams wash ashore with the changing tides.

Nora spent her first five years on the island but has not been back to the remote community for decades—not since that long ago summer when her mother disappeared at sea. One night while sitting alone on Glass Beach below the cottage where she spent her childhood, Nora succumbs to grief, her tears flowing into the ocean. Days later she finds an enigmatic fisherman named Owen Kavanagh shipwrecked on the rocks nearby. Is he, as her aunt's friend Polly suggests, a selkie—a mythical being of island legend—summoned by her heartbreak, or simply someone who, like Nora, is trying to find his way in the wake of his own personal struggles?

Just as she begins to regain her balance, her daughters embark on a reckless odyssey of their own—a journey that will force Nora to find the courage to chart her own course and finally face the truth about her marriage, her mother, and her long-buried past.

Melissa's Musings:

This book has an easy, rolling quality to it, like the waves coming in with the tide.

It's easy to get pulled in to the world, and to lose yourself in the story as Nora steals away with her daughters, Ella and Annie, to Burke's island to try and protect them from the scandal of her husband, the youngest attorney general in their state.

The island and the inhabitants were probably my favorite part of the book as a whole. There are a lot of interesting characters here, and the fact that there is a lot of Irish history tied to the island gave the supporting characters easygoing, likeable qualities. The island itself is described beautifully, and is easy to picture as you read.

The story moves back and forth, telling bits of the present day, intermixed with pieces of Nora's past. I liked the sequencing, but I honestly wish there had been more buildup of Nora's past. I felt that there was too much kept behind closed doors, so that at the end, you were left dangling, trying to believe too much of what happens in the last chapter is Noras story coming full circle through her daughters, when you don't get enough of a sense of her story in the first place. 

There are elements of magic to the story, but I don't feel that they resolve themselves, so you're left trying to fill in the blanks yourself.

I am curious to know what happens to these characters, but this story isn't really the kind that lends itself to a sequel, unfortunately.

Have you read this? Any other beach reads that you would recommend?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Little Update..AKA Where I've Been

Hello out there in the blogosphere....

I've been MIA for quite a while, I know. That's happened a lot over the past few years.

For a while, it was due to the fact that I worked full time, and had a looong commute. While I loved my coworkers, and was definitely grateful to have had a job, without which I wouldn't be where I am now, even it had drawbacks. My former job consisted of a lot of getting yelled at over the phone, and that in itself was draining enough, not to mention the long commute on top of it.

A lot of my lack of posting has also been due to the fact that I have been working towards getting permanent residency in Canada, so that my husband Dearran and I can finally start our lives together.

Let me back up a little bit...

Dearran and I met online, in March of 2004. We made our relationship official in September of 2005 and have been in a long distance relationship ever since. In August of 2014, we got married, and started on the part of our journey that is long distance marriage.

I couldn't tell you why, but somehow, long distance marriage is different, and more difficult, than a long distance relationship. Especially when it's an international marriage (taxes are way more complicated!)

In February of 2015, we submitted an application to the Canadian government, asking them to grant me permanent residency in Canada, so that Dearran and I could be together. This process included an extensive application, criminal background checks in both the US and Canada, (since I lived here for more than 6 months previously,) and a medical exam.

After months of waiting, and a few snags with the application, (all I'll say about it is thank goodness  we hired an excellent lawyer. He was worth every penny) we finally got word that my permanent residency had been approved.
The only catch?

 Due to the aforementioned snags with the application, my visa validity period was only six short weeks. And permanent resident visas cannot be extended for any reason. If you don't land in Canada by the expiration date, you are out of luck. The only step is to start the long application process all over again, and just because it was already approved once, does not mean it will be approved again.

I found out my application had been approved on January 15th. I talked with my lawyer about the next steps. Then, I gave notice at my job. Because of the time sensitive nature of my paperwork, I was only able to give my work 1 week notice, but they were very understanding as I had been transparent with my plans  throughout the entirety of the application process.

There were other issues, like my visa paperwork needing to be reissued due to the fact that it had outdated passport info on it (I had renewed my passport before I knew my file was approved. )

Sending that paperwork back was probably one of the scariest things I've done in a while, just because I was so afraid I wouldn't get it back in time.

Among all that worrying, I still had to decluter all of my stuff, (including a ton of books) get myself packed up, find a moving company to handle an international move, find time to hang out with friends, take care of a million things like bills, lists of goods I was bringing to Canada, etc.

I honestly never thought I would get it all done. But, I finished with time to spare.

And, on February 28th, after a few hours and procedures at the airport, I officially became a permanent resident of Canada.

I am beyond grateful to be here and finally be home with my husband.

The adjustment has been a little difficult, and I do miss my family back in the States a lot, but I will be back to visit them soon. As hard as that is, I know that I am where I should be.

The past 10 days I've been trying to relax and take care of the important stuff at the same time. I already have a bank account from when I lived in Canada temporarily in 2010, so that was helpful. I got myself added to Dearran's lease, and I have keys. I also have my Social Insurance number (the equivalent of a Social Security number) I have my transit card, and last week, I got a library card as well.

I've actually read two books and started a third in the last 5 days, and it's been glorious.

I haven't gotten the reviews done yet, but those will follow shortly.

Since I have my social insurance number, I could start looking and applying for jobs right away, but I've decided not to.

I've been through a lot of stress in the last few months, and honestly,  I need to decompress and take a break for a while. As much for myself as for any potential future employer. I can't be a productive employee if I'm stressed out and overtired.  So, I'm just going to enjoy some time with my husband, explore my new city, and read, A LOT.

So, that's where I've been. What have you all been up to?

Does anyone have any recommendations for books that I should add to my immediate TBR pile. Any new series I should dive into?

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Reading Challenges

Happy New year everyone!

I hope everyone had a nice time ringing in the new year. I was asleep when the clock struck 12, since I had to be at work at 6 am this morning.

I didn't feel I should do a 2015 recap post since my reading was pretty sparse last year. But, I did update my reading challenges page to include my progress with last years goals, so you can check out those updates if you're interested.

If I'm honest with myself, this years reading will probably not be all that much better, since I'm planning to make a major move within the next six months, so that my husband and I can finally (!) start our lives together. That will take a ton of time and planning to get that all done. Which means a lot less time for reading. But, I'm going to set some simple goals and see what I can accomplish.

This year my reading/blogging goals are:

  • To read 75 books
  • To read a total of 16,000 pages
  • To write and post 1 review or general post a week on the blog
  • To send some of my books off to new homes before I move with some "if it fits it ships giveaways." For these giveaways I will be compiling a list of the books that I have to give away and letting my blog readers select the books from the list they are interested in. However many can fit in whatever box I have will be the number of books the winner will get.

What are your reading/blogging goals for this year?