Monthly Archives

January 2016

The Sunday Letter

Sunday Sundries, Vol. 33: Short hiatus, activate!

Good evening, glorious people of the Internet!

This is a short update to say that I’m taking a two-week blog break to focus on work for my Masters. I’d love to just blog constantly, but getting my Masters is also important and until I get my hands on a time-turner I’m unable to find enough hours in the day (but seriously, if any of you get your hands on a time turner, you know where to find me).

The good news is, I’ll be back here on February 14th with some exciting news, posts and giveaways.

Until then, please enjoy these Sunday Sundries:

Lots of love. Meet you back here on Valentine’s Day.

Mel Hattie Signature 2016 - Final - Mel Only

 

 

 

 

The Sunday Letter

Sunday Sundries, Vol. 32: London Calling

This weekend’s been a wild one.

As if hearing that I’ll be going to Bosnia & Hercegovina with Photographers Without Borders didn’t already have me fist pumping around the house, I also heard back from the CBC bureau in London, England that I’ve been accepted there as an intern for the month of April.

My response:

 

CBC London was my No. 1 internship choice. I told anyone in my program who’d listen that I’d like to be in the heart of the CBC’s European news operation. And now I’m going to be there!

Watch out, you can look forward to posts about my life as an intern there as well as (of course) British tea!

The best part is that London CBC has sent me a great guide for interning there. I love guides. Most importantly, it includes where the local after work pub is. I think I’m going to work my ass off and fit right in.

During Christmas break I had set plans in motion for BiH and the UK, but I had no idea whether I’d hear back or be successful at getting them. Now I have to stop dancing around the kitchen and start arranging visas, plane tickets and the like.

It’s all happy work though. If the rest of my years continue like this, I’ve got nothing to complain about.

I wound down from all the excitement today by making a batch of cookies. The ones pictured in this post! I got the recipe recommended by a friend and you can find it here. Full disclosure: they are very yummy.

Thanks for sticking around. Here are your ( a bit late in the evening) Sunday Sundries:

Here’s looking forward to Monday.

Mel Hattie Signature 2016 - Final - Mel Only

 

 

 

 

 

Lifestyle

‘Career of Evil,’ by Robert Galbraith

This book had me gripped in its clutches from day one.

For those of you that have been reading along with Galbraith’s (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling’s) Cormoran Strike mystery series, this is the novel where we see determined and valiant assistant Robin Ellacott transform from victim to avenger.

No spoilers in this review, but we do find out a lot about both more Strike and Ellacott’s pasts in Career of Evil. In fact, a lot of the dominos and breadcrumbs that Galbraith set up and led us with in the first two novels get knocked down or absolved in this novel. In fact, one question that entered my concerned mind after it ended was, ‘is there anything left to knock over? Is it too tidy? Where’s she going to take it next?’

Then I reassured myself, ‘It’s Rowling. She knows what she’s doing.’

According to what Rowling’s been saying in the media, there is a fourth (and possibly many more) Cormoran Strike novels in the works. Woohoo!

My favourite thing about this book is how it’s essentially a giant examination of violence against women.

We’ve got short term violence, chronic violence, women who try and help other women, women who reject help, women who hurt women, women trying to break free of what violence has done to them, men who hurt women and men who hurt men who hurt women.

The lens of fiction let’s the author accordion and play with time, so we get to look at these relationships and their evolution through key moments in the characters’ relationships.

Also, there was a time when I was working in the Asset Recovery and Insolvency department of a law firm where I seriously considered becoming a private detective or a bailiff. These novels definitely stir up that same excitement in me. Luckily, with journalism I’m still hunting down stories and searching for the truth every day. Signs that I’m on the right path. I wish I could hang out with Robin – I think we’d be good buddies.

I was sad to reach the end of this book because it meant not getting to go back over and over again to these characters to peek in on what they were doing. At least for a little while. Hurry up Galbraith and publish another one!

The Sunday Letter

Sunday Sundries, Vol. 31: Goodbye Bowie and Rickman

I think we all know it was a hard week. A week where star men died and wands were raised in recognition of the loss of two men who were great both in artistry or empathy. I see this having never known or met either of them, but from the anecdotes of those who were close to them and from enjoying their art, it’s an assumption I feel comfortable making.

On top of that, we got a surprise load of snow here in Halifax yesterday night, which is incidentally why this post is late. I was helping to shovel the driveway so my future husband (must practice saying that) can escape for work later.

Here are your Sunday Sundries.

That’s it for this week. Let’s hope this week coming has less death, less snow and more clementine cake and bulgogi sloppy joes.  All the best and good luck to you in your corner of the world!

Mel Hattie Signature 2016 - Final - Mel Only

 

 

 

 

 

Lifestyle

Six Tips To Help You Read More

Last week I posted my reading list for 2016. It’s 52 books long and a continuation of my 2015 project to read one book per week.

Over the course of last year I found there were a few things that really worked for me to help me get through my list. I hope they help you too!

Never underestimate what you can do with five minutes.

You don’t need half an hour to ‘sit down and read’. You can grab your book and read a chapter while waiting for supper to defrost in the microwave.

Always keep your book at hand.

Use public transit. Even if it takes longer than driving, you can focus on a story instead of traffic. Sounds like a worthwhile tradeoff to me. Plus, you’ll save money on gas!

Keep a reading log.

Hold yourself accountable. You’re also way more likely to remember what you read in a few months or a year if you jot down a few sentences about what you thought of the book or ideas that came to you while reading it.

Reading books is great. Remembering them is even better.

Read books you like

This may sound obvious but even I’ve found myself slogging away through the latest à la mode thought piece or trending book club hit for the sake of having said I read it, only to hate it the entire time.

If a book is not working for you, just dump it.

There are better books out there for you and any person who says you’re not complete unless you’ve read Naomi Klein or Eat, Pray, Love should probably be avoided at all costs.

That being said, don’t be afraid to give things a try. Even if they’re not your usual cup of tea.

[white_box]I worked tea into the post. Yippee![/white_box]

Read before bed.

I’ve got an alarm that goes off and tells me to get ready for bed. It also puts you in a great place to fall asleep.

Put your phone in ‘silent’ mode.

Distractions kill the mood and your focus while reading. Ain’t nobody got time for texts (or worse: push notifications. Blech.)

Happy reading!

Mel Hattie Signature 2016 - Final - Mel Only

Lifestyle

‘Killing and Dying,’ by Adrian Tomine

It is a special thing in this world when you find someone who masters two crafts and then blends them together seamlessly.

This collection of six short graphic stories by the Optic Nerve and Shortcomings author Adrian Tomine takes us through issues of failed dreams, mistaken identities, parenting, cancer, immigration, family relationships, how the pursuit of an idae can make us dicks, abusive relationships, substance abuse and stand-up.

We knew Tomine was an excellent illustrator from his regular work in Optic Nerve, The New Yorker and his other publications, but reading Killing and Dying confirms he’s also a masterful storyteller.

The writing in Killing and Dying is honest and dark; funny and true; heartbreaking and empathetic. It had me weeping for characters my social engineering would normally have me despise: the racist, the deadbeat, the pathetic, the misogynist, the unfixable, the tragic, the violent.

His stories leave us feeling uncomfortable with our own feelings and that’s a very interesting place for a reader to be.

Tomine is very economic with his storytelling. Although his pieces are heavily narrative-driven, not a line of ink or word are wasted. His dialogue is as clean as his pencil lines. There is no overdone complexity.

Each story really has a distinctive narrative and graphic style. There’s no mistaking where one ends and the other begins.

The story ‘Intruders’ is drawn in a dark pencil sketch reminiscent of Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Tomine and Tatsumi worked together through their published, Drawn and Quarterly. Tomine has said Tatsumi was a mentor to the younger artist. Tatsumi passed away in March, 2015, before Killing and Dying was published.

His visual narrative style is extremely understated. Tomine’s simple clean lines and plainly-drawn characters fool us into thinking the topics are not incredible hard to write about, he does it with such ease.

There’s one panel in the titular story, ‘Killing and Dying’ where, without ever saying anything, simply by the way he draws the panel, you know one of the characters is no longer with us. It’s never been stated anywhere in the story, but the way he draws it you all of a sudden feel this whole undercurrent of unstated grief and loss and unfairness.  He doesn’t have to say anything.  It is so good.

As for categorization. Maybe we can call this the visual short story. Can this be a thing? I feel like Tomine has made it a thing. Reading the stories of intimate lives set in non-descript and slightly decrepit urban American harkens me back to Flannery O’Connor and her short stories in southern gothic style, with their grotesque characters and questions of morality.

Killing and Dying is sad and perfect. It transcends the graphic novel medium and has me itching to read more of his previous work. This has been one of my favourite reads of the past year.

Have you read this yet?