Where I’ve Been and What I’ve Been Reading

Hello, friends!  It’s been forever since I’ve written anything.  I have a reasonably good excuse, I think, in the form of a family vacation and the lead-up to/anticipation of said vacation.  My reading concentration has been awful the past few weeks, and I had a stressful personal issue crop up at the most inopportune time as well.  So, having begged your pardon, now I am ready to dive back in to book blog life!  I missed you guys.  I miss feeling like a reading machine.  I’m ready to get my groove back.


So where did we go?  Toronto, Ontario, Canada!  My cousin from Iran moved there a little over a year and a half ago.  This was my first opportunity to actually meet her in person.  We stayed with her and she graciously showed us around beautiful, vibrant Toronto.  The weather couldn’t have been better while we were there.  There is SO MUCH to do and see in Toronto.  Just riding the subway and walking around felt like an adventure to me!  We visited Saint Lawrence Market, the CN Tower, and the Royal Ontario Museum among other attractions.  We also took a day trip to Niagara Falls, which was fun.  My son is absolutely nuts about LEGOs so we also went to the Legoland Discovery Centre in nearby Vaughn.  He had a blast.  We took a zillion pictures but I’m just going to share a few.

My son lying down on the glass floor at the CN Tower over 1100 feet up.
Gazing at the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara.
My cousin, me, my goofy son, and my husband at a delicious Persian restaurant in Toronto called Gilaneh.
I marveled at the giant armadillos at the ROM.
T. Rex at the ROM.

It was a great trip, my son’s first airplane flights and our first visit outside the country since my husband and I went to Ireland in 2006!  I most definitely want to return to Toronto.  Oh, I did manage to go to a bookstore while I was there – an Indigo store right near where my cousin lives.  I didn’t have much time so I consulted Goodreads and hastily selected three books from Canadian authors that I thought I might not be able to find easily in America.  (Thanks to Naomi and Buried in Print for the author inspiration on these!)

I’ve not read any of these authors before… have you?  Elizabeth Hay’s Small Change, Montreal Stories by Mavis Gallant, and The Memento by Christy Ann Conlin. They all look very appealing.  And of course, I have absolutely NO idea when I’ll get to them!  🙂  So that brings me to…

What I’ve Been Reading

  • I listened to the third Harry Potter book before we left and of course I enjoyed it.  But I’m taking a small break from them before I start Goblet of Fire.
  • I finished Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery the night before we left.  It was just lovely.  I’m not going to do a review of it, but I most thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to the sixth book in the series for #AnneReadalong2017.
  • On the plane I took Anne Tyler’s Celestial Navigation.  I have a superstition about carrying an Anne Tyler book with me when I fly, don’t ask me why, it’s wholly irrational.  I didn’t read much on the plane (short flight times!) or while in Toronto (too tired from all that sightseeing!)  But I managed to get pretty far into it during the return trip, and finished it a couple of days after we got home.  I love Anne Tyler, and intend to read all of her books.  This one was… not her best.  She’s excellent at character study, but this one was so frustrating.  The two main characters were so passive, or passive aggressive, or something.  They were making such poor choices and I just wanted to slap them!  It was a rather depressing read.  Only for Anne Tyler completists, I’d say.
  • As of now, I’m reading Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca for the RIP Challenge.  It’s luscious and atmospheric and brooding and I LOVE IT.  I suppose I’m about a third of the way through.  I’m going to get back into it when I finish this post.

So that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to the past few weeks.  I hope to get back to a more regular posting schedule soon!  October is such a busy month – do you all find that to be true?  There are so many Fall and Halloween related activities.  My son’s two week break will be over Monday, so it’ll be back to the usual routine.  (They start in July and get two-week breaks in Fall, Winter, and Spring.  Yes, we like it.)

Let me know in the comments if you’ve read anything I’ve mentioned here, or what you’re reading right now.  Thanks for reading!




45 thoughts on “Where I’ve Been and What I’ve Been Reading

  1. I love Celestial Navigation for everything but the ending. You’re right about how it ends. I think the rest of the book is better than that, but when you finish it you are depressed by the way all that possibility was thrown away. Later you might remember it more fondly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like a great trip! I’ve always thought it’s shameful that I grew up in the States yet have still never visited Canada even though it’s our nearest neighbor. One of these days I would love to do an extended trip there and see lots of different areas. I love the photo of you with the armadillos 🙂

    I read my first Elizabeth Hay novel earlier this year and it was wonderful. I’ve been looking for more books by her ever since but they are really hard to find in the UK and even in the US.

    I’ve not even heard of that Tyler novel. I’ll save it towards the very end of her oeuvre. For now I still have lots of her more famous ones to read. I was thinking of starting Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant today.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay, that two week break schedule sounds amazing. So he goes to school all summer then, right? I’m SO jealous on behalf of school-age me.

    I love the you’re reading Rebecca. Can’t wait for the review and will send you a link for mine when you post.

    I love Toronto and have been there a few times. The for in the Chinese district is amazing. When I go, I tend to walk everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Welcome back! I hope you really enjoyed your time off. We all definitely need it time and again. I haven’t been to Toronto other than in passing (school trip; we spent one evening there– that totally doesn’t count); it’s definitely high on my list of places to visit!

    I’ve read three of the four books you said you’ve been reading! Obviously Harry Potter and Anne’s House of Dreams–but also Rebecca. I adore Rebecca. I hope you enjoy reading it! I haven’t read anything by Anne Tyler. Where did you pick up this habit to travel with a book of her’s?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha – I wondered if someone would ask me about that? I flew with one to Ireland in 2006. It was a long flight and I was reading The Amateur Marriage. I don’t fly that often, but on my next flight I thought, why not take an Anne Tyler? And a superstitious habit is born. What can I say? 🙂

      If you’d like to try her, I’d say try Digging to America or Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Little things like that are some of the best traditions– the accidental kind. 😀 I have a few of those in my life. I hope that this is a superstitious habit only because your flights were all great. 😉

        Thanks for the recommendations! Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant definitely sounds up my alley. I’ll keep an eye out for it!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Welcome back Laila. Your vacation pics are so beautiful. It looks like y’all had a great time, especially your son ❤ I haven't read any of the books on your post but I hope that you will enjoy your current and upcoming reads. Have a wonderful week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Diana! He really did, as did we all. He’s such a good traveler! I love being able to give him experiences like this, even if he won’t remember all of it when he gets older. Or maybe he will, who knows? I love to travel and I hope to pass that along to him.

      I hope you’re enjoying your current reads too! 🙂


  6. Wow, a two week break in the fall, winter, and spring with a much shorter summer break. What an interesting idea. My kids would love it.

    As for the books you’re reading, Anne’s House of Dreams and Rebecca are among my favorite novels!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m sorry that you were having a personal issue, and I hope things are going beautifully smoothly for you now. Your vacation sounds wonderful, though! I just got back from a New York vacation where I saw all the friends and none of the sights, and it was lovely. Just getting back to the grind now!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love Toronto! I’m glad you had such a good time there. I have Memento on my TBR list, and one of these days, I’ll get to it. 🙂 I tried Tyler’s Spool of Blue Thread and found it a bit boring, which is sad, because so many people love this book, or really all of her books. Which book of hers do you think would be good as a second try?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Looks like a great trip! We recently took a family vacation out to Utah to visit all our family. It was busy and fun and I’ve needed a week to recover! 😉

    So glad you enjoyed Anne’s House of Dreams. I think its my favorite in the series! I just posted my review of Anne of Ingleside and am excited to hear what you think as well!

    I haven’t read Rebecca since high school (like freshman year of high school). Perhaps it’s time for a reread. I look forward to your review!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How did I miss this post?! I’m so glad you had a good time, and lovely weather, in TO! Isn’t that glass floor in the CN Tower scary? My son wouldn’t go on it without stretching out his whole body, like you might do on thin ice. 🙂 I love your pics!

    Oh, The Memento! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it. I loved that book. Your other choices are great, too! And so happy you liked Anne’s House of Dreams. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a fantastic holiday you had, Laila! I think that all the travelling makes up for the lack of concentration and reading. All that matters is to keep our brains active, and those pictures show that you clearly did. Thanks for sharing personal pics 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You were here?! I will send you a list of bookstores the next time you are visiting! Not that I don’t wholeheartedly approve of your Canadian selections; everything by Elizabeth Hay is quiet and beautiful, The Memento seems to have a huge following, and of course I recommend Mavis Gallant’s stories, which can serve as future vacation planners too perhaps. I thought you were going to say that your Anne Tyler tradition had something to do with Macon in The Accidental Tourist. I’ve just started reading Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so sad: maybe it’s just me or my mood, or maybe I need to get past the second chapter? I spend an absurd amount of time in that gallery in the ROM so I loved the pics of all of you there (I go in quiet times so that I don’t have to share with the kiddies – it and the mummies are endlessly popular)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugh, I didn’t know you were in Toronto, silly me… I’ll definitely be back sometime to visit my cousin again so next time maybe we can meet up! 🙂 Yes, I’d love a list of bookstores – this was just an introductory trip and I sort of sneaked away one afternoon for 30 minutes while my son and husband were resting their feet and watching cartoons. I went to the Indigo bookstore that was adjacent to my cousin’s apartment near Eglinton and Yonge. For a chain it was lovely and the cashier was super friendly. Next time I’d like to go to an indie bookstore if I have time.

      I find that lots of Anne Tyler books are a little sad, some more so than others. She certainly deals with dysfunctional families – some are more comically so.

      The ROM was so cool – we basically only went to one wing and didn’t even get to the other side… something else to do next time!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a nice central-ish location for exploring. I’m about a 25-minute walk from there and we often are in the neighbourhood (sometimes to tour the lovely Mount Pleasant cemetery, just south of there, with its amazing trees). If I am going to shop in a chain, that’s the closest one to me, and it’s quite nice, I agree. I bought “It” there last month, because I couldn’t get it in my favourite indie shops (and hadn’t planned ahead to order it). So I’ll start thinking of this Anne Tyler book as sad, and maybe I’ll just move along. I’ve enjoyed all the others of hers that I’ve read.

        Liked by 1 person

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