Book Review: Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich

When I read the blurb for Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich, I was intrigued by the mix of religion and mystery. This read looked like one that I would enjoy.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Blurb:

When committed female police captain Linda Turner, haunted by the murders of two small children and their pastor father, becomes obsessed with solving the harrowing case, she finds herself wrapped up in a mission to expose a fraudulent religious organization and an unrepentant killer.
 
Despite her years of experience investigating homicides for the force, Captain Linda Turner is haunted by the murders of the Hansen family. The two small children, clothed in tattered Disney pajamas, were buried with their father, a pastor, in the flower garden behind a church parsonage in Lincoln, Nebraska. But Mrs. Hansen is nowhere to be found—and neither is the killer.
 
In St. Louis, the televangelist Ray Williams is about to lose his show—until one of his regular attendees approaches him with an idea that will help him save it. Despite his initial misgivings, Ray agrees to give it a try. He can’t deny his attraction to this woman, and besides, she’d assured him the plan is just—God gave her the instructions in a dream.
 
Multiple story lines entwine throughout this compelling mystery, delving into the topics of murder, religious faith, and the inherent dangers in blindly accepting faith as truth. While Reverend Williams is swept up in his newfound success and plans for his wedding, Captain Turner can only hope that she and her team will catch the Hansens’ cunning killer—before more bodies surface.

My Thoughts:

This novel did not disappoint me: it was fast-paced and held my interest during the entire story. Salvation Station was a book I could not put down – I wanted to know if the police would find the culprit in time as there were many moments when I thought they would not. The web that the murderer creates is so intricate and believable; the pacing of the author perfectly pitched.

It is not often that a novel includes the subject of religion. I could connect with the characters’ religious feelings and motives because of my own experience with the Christian sect described in the novel. The author’s descriptions of religious fervour were skillfully done – as was the description of the characters’ naivete who believe in the goodness of people.

Salvation Station is told in multiple points of view which clearly show the two crimes which intersect later on in the novel. Schleich expertly and seamlessly merges the various storylines in the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller and recommend it to those who enjoy reading murder mysteries.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novels was the 78th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Music Monday: Happy Together

I was chatting to one of my student’s parents and she told me of a project her choir group had done during the COVID-19 isolation in order to feel connected. She sent me the link of their rendition of Happy Together for me to listen to.

I loved it! Not only did they sing the song beautifully, but the music brought me back to my childhood. 🙂

Do you know of any other projects like this sung by choirs?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Green, White and Lilac

One of my favourite things about walking in the neighbourhood is seeing the flowers in everyone’s gardens.

I loved these (name unknown) and enjoyed looking at them every day that I passed by while they were flowering.

The lilac ones, of course, were my preferred colour.

They both looked stunning, however, lining the fence of the sidewalk. The flowers are no longer there and the greenery has taken over. The lush green of the plant has its own beauty, though, to admire.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge on differing perspectives)

Weekend Coffee Share: First Week of Summer Break

If we were having coffee, I would tell you to come inside and sit near the fan – it is HOT outside and you would need to cool down. Today is the fourth day of our current heat wave and I am sure you would want something cold to drink.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I haven’t been able to blog for the last few weeks. Not only was I tired of sitting in front of the computer; but I was also feeling a little sad. The end of the school year was hard mentally and emotionally for both me and my students. I was not able to end the year correctly with my them – nor tidy up my classroom space. I arranged Google Meets online to say goodbye but it was not the same.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have been on the Summer Break for one week now. I like not sitting in front of the computer for the entire day working and have not opened my laptop for seven days now. Working in front of the computer has been the only indicator that school is over. As we have been isolating at home for four months now, being on break does not have the same feel to it. I am hoping, though, that I can get to do some of the other things I usually do during the school vacation.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my hopes of doing the usual seem slim. Going shopping is going to be a problem: fitting rooms are not available to try on clothing; and the lines to get into stores are over an hour long! It doesn’t seem worth it to me. (I did spend Thursday and Friday giving it a go). Coffee shops are open for business – but we cannot sit at a table inside and enjoy the space. In addition, the cinemas are not open so we cannot pop in to enjoy a film. It will be frustrating if the next two months are similar to the last four.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my husband has been cooking up a storm. He has made noodles from scratch (as well as wontons); tried his hand at briyani and a delicious Indian curry; grilled some delicious ribs; and experimented with a variety of vegetable dishes. He even made croissants – which took him three days to prepare! We have enjoyed eating the offerings Chez Roland. It has also given me a most welcome break from cooking! 😀

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Wednesday we celebrated Canada Day. My husband and I invited our nephew over to eat with us as we hadn’t seen him for 4 months. It was good to see him and to see that he is doing okay – seeing someone in the flesh is always better than texting. Even though we spent the day indoors, we still had a good time with family. Hopefully next year we will be able to go out again and celebrate with others.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I do not have any plans for the upcoming week – except to go to the nursery. I have some re-potting that I need to do so I will buy soil and some pots. Have a wonderful upcoming week and may it be filled with things that bring you joy.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

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

Book Review: The Water Bears by Kim Baker

I saw this diverse read written by Kim Baker at the OLA Super Conference earlier this year. I love the cover of The Water Bears and decided to pick it up.

Genre: Middle Grade

Blurb:

A story about a boy recovering from a bear attack with the help of his friends and maybe, some magic.

All Newt Gomez wants for his thirteenth birthday is a bike. After surviving a bear attack last year, he thinks this isn’t an unreasonable request. Instead, his hardworking parents give him a former taco truck to help him get around the wacky island where they live in the Pacific Northwest. And then Newt and his best friend Ethan find a life-sized wooden bear washed up on the shore. Ethan is convinced the bear grants wishes; Newt doesn’t know what to think.

Newt also has a big decision ahead: go to middle school on the island, or to the mainland where his warm extended family lives? There, he won’t be the only Latinx kid; he doesn’t have bad dreams about the attack, and not everyone knows what happened to him. Newt secretly plots to move to his abuela’s house, but his truck is stolen with the maybe-magic bear inside. He must confront his fears and adapt to the reality of a world that’s often uncertain, but always full of salvageable wonders.

My Thoughts:

This is a wonderful and poignant story that middle grade readers will enjoy. It contains a little adventure, some facts about nature, and features a boy who learns the value of friendship and that it is okay to be a little different.

Newt has experienced a traumatic event (the bear attack) and slowly learns to accept what has happened to him. He also learns, with the help of his friends, that he can move on from his experience – and that it is okay to move on in a way of his choosing. Newt learns that despite the bear attack, he can still enjoy moments in his life – and that he can continue to do things that he enjoyed in the past.

I like the message in this story; it is a message that will sit well with preteens when they read the book. They will learn what it is to be accepted; as well as what it means to be different. The Water Bears is a well-written story that will appeal to children who enjoy reading novels that show growth in the main character.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novels was the 59th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Music Monday: Muévelo

One of the songs on my current Zumba playlist that I dance to when I exercise is Muévelo by Nicky Jam and Daddy Yankee.

Not only do I like the song, but I also enjoy moving to the choreography. Often during the day, the melody creeps into my mind and I dance to the music in my head. This song is definitely going to be on the playlist I dance to with my students when school starts up again!

What song are you currently moving to?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Weekend Coffee Share: A Week of Reporting

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we are still living under restrictions. We are now able to have a social bubble up to 10 people so at least social interaction with other families can happen. Plenty of stores are still closed, however, as the number of cases has not gone down enough in the city to move completely into what is called stage 2. So no eating at restaurants, having your hair cut, or visiting the library.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have spent the week in front of the computer writing my report cards. It was not an easy task because of the school closure and not having worked with children face-to-face for 3 months now. On Thursday afternoon I finished and submitted them with a sigh of relief. Next week I will do the corrections and I will then be done with another end of the year task.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend I am tired and yesterday I took a day off away from the computer screen. Teaching remotely does mean I am in front of the computer more often. It also means that when it comes time to blog, I need a break from from sitting in front of my laptop and therefore can no longer foster the desire to type and stare at the screen. Hopefully this upcoming week it will be easier.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the weather was a little chilly for the last four days. The cooler temperatures made my morning walks more refreshing and also made it easier to breathe in our home (which does not have air conditioning). I am sure it will get warm again soon so I am currently enjoying the milder temperatures.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that there are 2 more weeks left of school and then it will be the summer holidays! I am hoping by then that I will be able to meet up with my friend and go shopping for things we need at home. In the meantime, I will continue with my work and look forward to the time that I can do so.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

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

Portrait of Blossom Tree

I have been walking past a tree filled with blossoming buds for weeks now. At the beginning of last week, the tree was in full flower – it looked stunning and I could not help but admire the sight.

I have no idea what type of tree this is, but I do admire the size and beauty of its blooms.

When I took photos of the tree, some of the petals had already fallen to the ground. The surrounding area looked so pretty – just like it would in a picture book.

Seeing the tree was definitely an added pleasure to my walk. The blooms indicated that I was passing the mid-Mark of my exercise period.

I no longer see the beauty of these blossoms as the tree is now fully green. I do remember their beauty, though, and look forward to seeing the blooms once again next year.

Do you know the name of this tree and it’s flowers?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to the Sunday Stills photo challenge)

Weekend Coffee Share: First Week of June

If we were having coffee, we would still be meeting virtually. Even though some stores have opened up in our city for curbside pickup, we cannot yet meet up for coffee at our local coffee shop. I long for the time that I can do so and I look forward to chatting with a friend and experiencing the buzz of people around me.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that in the final week of May, we were told that we would continue with remote teaching until the end of June and the end of the school year. I was disappointed to learn that I would not be spending time with my students, but the decision was what I expected. We will know by the end of June what the new school year will look like in September. Our province is looking to others to see what their experience of going back to school is like.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Tuesday afternoon I went into school to place my students’ belongings into bags and to tidy up things a little in the classroom. My heart felt a little sad as I saw the incomplete projects lying around in the room; projects that I will not be able to complete with this year’s group of students. I had to organise and tidy everything within a 3 hour framework. Both my daughters came to help me and I would not have managed to do as much as I did without their help.

If we were having coffee, I would ask you if you have noticed the new banner on my blog. My daughter (who is studying art at university) created it for me. She also created the specific banner for my weekly coffee share. What do you think? I like the clean-cut lines of it – and the banners definitely make my space look more professional. Slowly I am cleaning up my blog and hopefully taking it to the next level.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that during the next week I will be focusing on report cards. I have not seen my students for 3 months and I know that writing them is not going to be easy. I will be focusing on what we did in class before the March Break, and mentioning as well the tasks that they have completed during the school closure and the remote learning period. The upcoming week is definitely not going to be an easy one as I grapple with them.

If we were having coffee, I would encouraged you to enjoy the upcoming week and to focus on the positive. This is what I am going to try and do.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

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

Book Review: Under Currents by Nora Roberts

My hold for the audiobook Under Currents by Nora Roberts came in and I eagerly began listening to it. This title had been on my TBR list and I thought that listening to the story instead of reading the text may help me put a dent into my list.

Format: Audiobook

Narrator: January LaVoy

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery

Blurb:

Within the walls of a tasteful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, young Zane Bigelow feels like a prisoner of war. Strangers—and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake—see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Zane and his sister know the truth: There is something terribly wrong.

As his father’s violent, controlling rages—and his mother’s complicity—become more and more oppressive, Zane counts the years, months, days until he can escape. He looks out for little Britt, warning her Be smart. Be careful. In fear for his very life, he plays along with the insidious lie that everything is fine, while scribbling his real thoughts in a secret journal he must carefully hide away.

When one brutal, shattering night finally reveals cracks in the façade, Zane begins to understand that some people are willing to face the truth, even when it hurts. As he grows into manhood and builds a new kind of family, he will find that while the darkness of his past may always shadow him, it will also show him what is necessary for good to triumph—and give him strength to draw on when he once again must stand up and defend himself and the ones he loves… 

My Thoughts:

The audio version of this book was fantastic and I really enjoyed listening to LaVoy as she performed the story. The accents for the different characters were spot on and the emotions were perfectly pitched. I think the audio added another dimension to the story and increased my enjoyment of it.

Under Currents explores a sensitive topic – that of domestic violence. We see the affect of violence on both a child and a spouse. Even though the topic is a difficult one, Roberts explores it with sensitivity. I like that the story ends with a sense of hope even though I know, realistically, that domestic violence doesn’t always end happily.

Roberts is a master at creating the perfect pace to keep a reader’s interest. The story also had a good mix of serious topics, mystery, and romance. The characters are varied and true to life and I enjoyed listening to the connections that they made with one another. I always enjoy reading the contemporary fiction novels by Nora Roberts and this one did not disappoint.

I give this audio novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novels was the 58th novel in my book pledge for 2020)