October 8, 2013

And The Mountains Echoed

Tuesday, October 08, 2013 Posted by Mary No comments

Let me begin by saying that I am a huge fan of Khaled Hosseini. His first novel, The Kite Runner, is unlike anything I've ever read before, and in its poignancy, still haunts me to this day. His second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, was also remarkable in itself, so one can imagine my excitement when I found out that his third novel was out.

In a nutshell, And the Mountains Echoed, Hosseini's third book, tells the story of Abdullah and Pari, siblings who are separated as children in mid-twentieth century Afghanistan.

Normally, in a story like this, you would expect to know what happens to the two after they are separated. But no, Hosseini proceeds to tell you stories about other people, some of them, yes, vitally connected to the main plot, but others I found to be insignificant.

It feels to me as if the book can be summarized into two thoughts--the siblings getting separated, and then reunited--and since that is so simple and makes all of two pages, he inserts anecdotes about other people in the middle instead. I found myself either asking, "What was the point of that," or getting submerged in a subplot only to be subsequently left hanging. 

Hosseini is a very talented storyteller, and it still shows in this book. It is just not as good as his previous two. I was less invested in the characters. I didn't really feel what they were going through. I barely even cried! And I think that even if I stopped comparing it to his previous work, I would still not be too impressed.

I wonder if I expect too much from this author. I did only rate the book two stars or it was ok on Goodreads.com. In all honesty, rating a Khaled Hosseini book with just two stars seems blasphemous. But that was it. It was all the impact this book made on me. It was just ok.

October 3, 2013

Moraine Lake

Thursday, October 03, 2013 Posted by Mary , , , , No comments

If you google images of Canada, there's a popular picture that is sure to grab your attention. In fact, if you do that right now, I'm 100% positive your eyes will hone in on a picture of a lake, with trees around it, and with the Rocky Mountains in the background.

That, my friends, is Moraine Lake at the Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest national park in Canada, right here in Alberta. That image, because of its astonishing beauty, has haunted me for years, even before I knew I was coming to Canada, even before I knew I was marrying a Canadian. A few weeks ago, after being in the country for 8 months, I was finally able to behold it with my own eyes.

It's funny because my husband didn't even know Moraine Lake existed. But I insisted, and googled, and thankfully, GPS led us there. Although still inside Banff National Park boundaries, it's actually not anywhere near the Banff town center, but some 60 km away in the town of Lake Louise (74 km if you consider the drive up to the lake itself). It was almost sunset when we drove there, and I was freaking out, because we were in a narrow, winding mountain road in the middle of nowhere and we didn't exactly know where we were going. When we arrived at the lake area though, I was relieved to see a lot of people, and when I saw the lake itself, I actually had tears come to my eyes.

Moraine Lake was breathtaking! It was every bit as beautiful as in the pictures, maybe even more so. And it was very humbling, actually being there, a place I never imagined I would be able to visit...

It was definitely a dream come true.

October 1, 2013

Rueon Thai Restaurant

Tuesday, October 01, 2013 Posted by Mary , , , No comments

I'm not too big of a fan of curry, and since I've never really had real Thai food, I thought I wouldn't like Thai cuisine. Boy, was I wrong.

Last night, on our quest to find as many ethnic restaurants in Alberta as we possibly can, hubby and I stopped at Rueon Thai Restaurant in Red Deer. The place is highly recommended by a co-worker and has a 5-star rating on Google, so we thought we'd give it a try.

Rueon, apparently meaning "wooden house", is a gem. The restaurant decor is simple, but the food and service was great. We had Spring Rolls as an appetizer and it didn't disappoint. It was perfectly cooked and tasted really good with hoisin sauce and sriracha. It was so good that we had to order another serving! We also had Pad Thai. It was our first time having it so we don't have anything to compare it to, but it was delicious. The best food of the night, however, was the Mas Mann or Massaman curry (pictured above). Like I already said, curry is not in my list of favorite foods, but Rueon's take on this concoction of coconut milk, peanut sauce, and of course curry, is heavenly. It's a mixture of flavors that ends up as a party in your mouth. The added star anise made it the most engaging dish I've ever had in my life. By engaging, I mean: I wanted to look at it, I wanted to smell it, I wanted to eat it--and not stop. LOL!

It's been a while since I wrote about a restaurant on my blog. This post is proof of how inspiring Rueon is. I can hardly wait to sample more of their exciting offerings.