Square in September: Lady in Pink

While in Paris, it was my intention to take my family to the Musée de l’Orangerie to see the Impressionist paintings, in particular Monet. Once we had admired Monet’s murals of the lilies, we browsed through the rest of the museum to enjoy the other art on display. Near the end of our visit, I came across a pretty lady in pink. I noted that the painter, Marie Laurencien, was a woman – not many paintings by women were on display.

There were only three of her paintings up and I found them to be refreshing after some of the dark colours that we had seen in many of the other artists’ paintings.

What do you think of Laurencien’s paintings?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge, Square in September. This month we are posting pictures featuring in the pink, i.e., photos featuring the colour pink,  something ‘in the pink’ of health, or those which leave you ‘tickled pink’)

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Book Review: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah is a South African comedian and I love his work. He makes fun of South Africa and its people – and yet the fun is not mean. Instead the snapshots he describes are so true, they are laughable. I had been eyeing his memoir in the bookstore and I finally bought it. I bought it for two reasons: firstly because he is an excellent comedian; and secondly he is South African born as I am.

Genre: Memoir, non-fiction

Blurb:

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

My thoughts: 

I loved reading this book for so many reasons. Firstly his reflections on the past brought up so many memories of my own growing up and living in South Africa during the time period that he describes. Secondly, it was interesting to read of another person’s experience growing up in my Motherland near the end of Apartheid. Thirdly, I love Trevor Noah’s humour and his take on life and people – a humour that found its way into his writing. Fourthly, the memoir was well written and subtly exposed the many things that were wrong with the Apartheid system.

Born A Crime is a retelling of a childhood that keeps a person reading. The book is sprinkled with the laws of the system in South Africa, laws which affected the lifestyle of this comedian. The book has been written for a mainly non-South African audience so many of the social expectations, South Africanisms, and everyday experiences are explained. I read this book quickly, and discussed many of the issues highlighted at the diner table with my family. Now my husband is reading the memoir – and soon afterwards my daughters will too.

Trevor Noah’s memoir is a must-read if you enjoy this genre and are looking to understand the experience of a mixed-race child born during a time when it was a crime to mix intimately with other races.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  5 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 63rd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Square in September: A Sunset

As we were eating supper last night my daughter, who is able to see out of the window, mentioned what a a beautiful colour the sky was. I, of course, grabbed my iPad to capture the colours. These are the photos with no filters:

It is not often the sky is streaked with pink – and we were glad to have seen it.

Did you notice the sunset last night?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge, Square in September. This month we are posting pictures featuring in the pink, i.e., photos featuring the colour pink,  something ‘in the pink’ of health, or those which leave you ‘tickled pink’)

Weekend Coffee Share: An Event-Filled Week

Join us for some coffee time!If we were having coffee, I would offer you a warm drink out of the cold. The temperature has dropped overnight and we have gone from hot and humid to chilly breezes. The constant fluctuations in temperature make it difficult to know what to wear – and have caused a number of people to get sick (myself included). Today it is starting to feel like Fall – coincidentally today  is the official start of the new season.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I had quite a busy week. On Monday after school I went to an author event organised by Harper Collins Canada. I heard A. J. Finn speak about his debut novel The Woman in the Window as well as Mary Kubica on When The Lights Go Out. Both of these novels are psychological thrillers and it was interesting to hear how different their writing process is for the same genre of novel.

On Thursday night it was Open House at our school. On this evening, the parents have the opportunity to come in and visit our classrooms. I had the chance to meet some of the parents, and book a follow-up meeting with each of them. The sense I got from each parent I met was positive and I am hoping we can work well together this year in order to create a good learning experience for their child.

The next day I was exhausted, as I always am when I am at school for 12 hours straight. I came home early after school on Friday, just missing the big storm that damaged a number of trees in our neighbourhood. Today I am resting in the afternoon to be ready to get back into the swing of things on Monday.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my weekend read is A. J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window. So far it is thrilling and it is sure to keep me reading the entire weekend. I am sure that I will not want to watch too much TV this weekend.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Eclectic Alli and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Book Review: The Winters by Lisa Gabriele

I entered a draw to win an Arc of The Winters by Lisa Gabriela as the story sounded interesting. I was happy when I received the book in the mail. I loved the cover from the beginning and looked forward to reading the contents.

GenreThriller, suspense

Release date: 16 October 2018

Blurb: 

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded Long Island mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter—a wealthy politician and recent widower—and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell. She soon realizes there is no clear place for her in this twisted little family: Max and Dani circle each other like cats, a dynamic that both repels and fascinates her, and he harbors political ambitions with which he will allow no woman—alive or dead—to interfere.

As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family’s dark secrets—the kind of secrets that could kill her, too. The Winters is a riveting story about what happens when a family’s ghosts resurface and threaten to upend everything.

My thoughts: 

The novel is written in the first person and is told from the perspective of the soon-to-be Mrs Winter. We experience her uncertainties and read about her changing her judgements on the new people in her life. Her vacillations are authentic as they remind me of the many times I have had to run through my judgements in my head. As I was reading this well written novel, I could relate to some of the experiences of the main protagonist: being a second wife, taking on a stepchild, moving into a home that has already been established. With her words, the author accurately reflects the tension that would arise with a new person coming into an established home.

As I was reading this novel, I thought that it had been labelled incorrectly as a thriller. Instead it read like contemporary women’s fiction. The issues hinted at are experienced by many women the world over – the drama of a stepmother arriving to create a second family. So I was taken by surprise when the element of suspense was introduced after I had read more than half the novel. I loved how the writer surprised me. I loved how I was taken completely unawares. I loved how the novel moved towards the unexpected.

The Winters is a story that may seem mundane but has the unexpected weaved into it. It is a novel that brilliantly describes how strong a woman can be if she needs to be. It is a novel that makes us question the validity of what a person allows the public to see. It is a novel with a few unexpected twists that will leave the reader eagerly reading until the last page.

I enjoyed reading this novel and recommend it if your enjoy reading both thrillers and contemporary fiction.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐  4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 62nd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Square in September: A Cheezy Ad

Stepping outside of the building after visiting Les Galleries Lafayette in Paris, I saw the following advert plastered on the wall. I could not help but smile when I saw it.

Advertisement outside Les Galleries Lafayette © Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Even though the ‘new man’ is helping out with tasks that are traditionally for the woman, he does not forget about his attire!

What do you think of this advertisement?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge, Square in September. This month we are posting pictures featuring in the pink, i.e., photos featuring the colour pink,  something ‘in the pink’ of health, or those which leave you ‘tickled pink’)

Grateful for Killer Crime Club Event

As you know, I enjoy attending author events. At these events I get to hear the authors speak about their latest novel, the inspiration for their story, and listen to them speak about their writing process. While they are sharing their experience, I also get a little insight into the writers themselves and see a glimmer of what issues are important to them.

On Monday night I went to an event organised by Harper Collins Canada Publishers for their Killer Crime Club. I had read neither of these books, nor any of the other books by Mary Kubica (A. J. Finn was to speak about his debut novel). Their genre is the psychological thriller which I do enjoy reading. The event was set in an old church,  a very dignified setting.

I found the talk interesting. A. J. Finn has a very good sense of humour even though he writes dark thrillers; and Mary Kubica gets up early to do her writing. A. J. Finn plans out his novel before he writes; while Mary Kubica is a ‘pantster’ who writes the story as it comes to her. Karma Brown was the moderator for the panel and she did a wonderful job. The conversation between the three of them flowed and was so natural.

This week I am grateful that I had the opportunity to attend this event. Not only did I get to listen to new (to me) authors, but I also got to see that authors are people just like everyone else.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week? Share your comments or the link to your post below.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Square in September: A Piggy Dessert

When in Paris we had the opportunity to eat at Au Pied de Cochon, one of the upscale restaurants that serve traditional French food.  We were tickled pink when my daughter’s dessert arrived because of the little pig that reflected the name of the restaurant.

href=”https://collinesblog.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/img_4697.jpg”> Meringue pigs at Au Pied de Cochon. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2018[/
We enjoyed eating the extra plate of sweet small meringue pigs for the rest of the family after the tastes and flavours of our main meal.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge, Square in September. This month we are posting pictures featuring in the pink, i.e., photos featuring the colour pink,  something ‘in the pink’ of health, or those which leave you ‘tickled pink’)

Weekend Coffee Share: A Library Book Sale

Join us for some coffee time!If we were having coffee, I would ask for the iced version because the last few days have felt like mid-summer! At the beginning of the week I was hopeful that Fall was on its way as we left home in the morning wearing our jackets. Alas, we were disappointed. My daughter cannot wait for ‘sweater-weather’ and is forced to continue wearing shorts and short sleeved t-shirts.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the week at school was pleasant. My students are slowly getting used to their new teacher as well as their new classroom routine. I am still in the process of setting a few things up (such as their binders) but hopefully that will be completed soon. I have a volunteer coming in this week and she will help me get everything together. She has helped me before so she will know exactly what to do.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I attended a library book sale at the large reference library in Toronto. They hold a large book sale from time to time in order to raise money for the literacy programs that are held in various library branches all over the city. I was astounded by the number of books on offer considering it was the third day of the sale. I left there with a bulging bag of books which cost me 50c each. Not only will I get pleasure from these books, but so will the people I will pass them onto.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the heat is making me drowsy. It is definitely the kind of day to spend reading in front of the fan. I have had a busy day up until now and am going to relax a little and continue with my current read: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.

Enjoy your upcoming week – may it be an enjoyable one.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Eclectic Alli and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Book Review: Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey

I am a little behind on reading the ARCs that I received at the OLA Super Conference early in February so I decided to pick up the first one on the pile. Heartbreaker  by Claudia Dey has already been released by the publisher with an updated cover.

Genre: women’s fiction, fiction

Blurb: 

Seventeen years after falling from a stolen car into a remote northern town, Billie Jean Fontaine is still an outsider. She may follow the stifling rules of this odd place, but no one will forget that she came from elsewhere. When Billie Jean vanishes one cold October night in her bare feet and track suit with only her truck keys, those closest to her begin a frantic search. Her daughter, Pony, a girl struggling against being a teen in the middle of nowhere; her killer dog to whom she cannot tell a lie; her husband, The Heavy, a man haunted by his past; and the charismatic Supernatural, a teenage boy longing only to be average. Each holding a different piece of the puzzle, they must come together to understand the darkest secrets of their beloved, and lay bare the mysteries of the human heart.

My thoughts: 

The novel is divided into three parts with each section told by a different character in the story. The first part is told by a girl (Pony Fontaine), the second by the dog, and the third by a boy (Supernatural known as ‘Supes’). Each point of view gives the reader information which can be pieced together to tell us the story of Billie Jean Fontaine.

Reading the first section was difficult for me. The information given was fractured; and the narrative kept changing the timeline. The introductory pages to the story were confusing and only dogged determination on my part not to stop reading enabled me to slowly piece together the life of the protagonist. It is only when reading the second section of the story that I began to understand what the writer was telling me.

The saving grace for me of this story was the third section. While reading this section, I was able to put together fragmented bits of the story and make sense the story and actions of Billie Jean Fontaine. I understand that the writer wrote in this way deliberately to mirror the knowledge each person in her life has of this woman; but I did find that the confusion created in me did not endear me to Dey’s writing or her form of storytelling.

This novel is one that may be the preferred read of someone who enjoys tales with a more literary bent. It is not fast-paced, and it is not romantic. Instead the story is teased out bit by bit in a way that may bore many readers.

I give this novel ⭐⭐ 2 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 61st in my 50 book pledge for 2018)