Weekend Coffee Share: An Extra Short Week

Join us for some coffee time!If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend we are enjoying a long weekend. Tomorrow is a public holiday titled Family Day and it is a perfect break from the Canadian Winter weather. The day is a perfect time to do activities with your family. My family and I will be relaxing – which for my daughters and husband means a late morning sleep-in 🙂 My husband intends to try out a new recipe so I foresee a lot of time spent at the dinner table.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we had a snow day on Tuesday. I got up as usual in the morning and, by the time I was ready to eat breakfast, I learned that not only had the school buses been cancelled but that the schools in the school board I work for had been closed. I was surprised by the decision – especially as the snow storm had not yet started. The unexpected day off, though, was a pleasant surprise which I spent reading and relaxing. Once the snow storm started it was not at all pleasant outside and I was pleased to be indoors.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this week my student’s report cards were sent out and I met up with a number of parents to discuss their child’s progress. I also had an open class for a couple of hours so that the parents could come in to view their children’s projects as well as to see their portfolios. It was good chatting with the parents and seeing the children proudly show their mom or dad what they had done.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Valentine’s day was a low-key celebration in my classroom. The children brought in cards which they gave to one another. I did not have a class party, but I did give them the time to read one another’s cards and even eat a candy or two that had been attached to a card. My students also wrote out cards for me – and I particularly enjoyed the homemade ones. I smiled at the one made for me by a student with a good sense of humour. He worked very hard on his cards as he individualised each one for each person in the class.

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Normally we do not – my husband is not the romantic kind to organise a celebration. I went to my normal Zumba class, and he went for his massage therapy. He did, however, surprise me with a beautiful pot of miniature roses when I got home. Shows that no matter how long I have been married to him, he can still surprise me on occasion 😀

My week has been very laid-back. My next week will be a bit busier albeit a short one. May yours be fruitful and enjoyable.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

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The Change

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

The Change had begun in developing countries. Vast patches in Africa, Asia, and South America had been enveloped by a throbbing mass that covered city buildings, slums, and patchwork homes. The last to be engulfed in the southern hemisphere had been the palatial residences in which lived the corrupt and the wealthy. The Western world had been confident and smug in their belief they would remain unaffected. But Humanity was not safe. The growth began in the outskirts of London. Unnoticed for the moment, the mass sensed the hatred and despair within the brick walls. It had work to do.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post was inspired by Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle. The challenge asks for bloggers to write a story in 100 words or less in response to the photo prompt.)

Book Review: I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

Over the weekend I decided to pick up one of the ARCs I had received when I attended the OLA Super Conference. I chose I Invited Her In by Adele Parks because I had seen mention of this novel on social media and I was curious about it. In addition, I always enjoy reading a good thriller.

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Blurb: 

When Mel receives an unexpected email from her oldest friend Abi, it brings back memories she thought she had buried forever. Their friendship belonged in the past. To those carefree days at university.

But Abi is in trouble and needs Mel’s help, and she wants a place to stay. Just for a few days, while she sorts things out. It’s the least Mel can do.

After all, friends look out for each other, don’t they?

I Invited Her In is a blistering tale of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy, and revenge.

My thoughts: 

The story is told from four different points of view: Mel, Abi (Mel’s friend), Ben (Mel’s husband), and Liam (Mel’s son).As expected with so many different points of view, the background story takes a while for the reader to learn. After reading a third of the story, I do admit that my interest was lagging a little and I could not wait for something to happen. I knew there had to be a catalyst as the novel had been described as a suspense story. It just seemed to take a long time to happen.

About halfway through the novel, the change of pace occurred. From that moment on, I turned the pages quickly and became engrossed in the story. Whereas before the catalyst I was feeling some annoyance at Mel’s behaviour and a little frustration at the slow pace of the novel; after reaching the mid-point I felt an entire range of emotions: disbelief and anger being the foremost. I do not want to say what caused my anger as it will give the story away but it is enough to say that I know of two women who have experienced some of the unpleasantness of what Mel experiences in the story – and I relived the anger and disbelief that I felt on their behalf.

Even though I found the novel slow-going at first, I was later gripped by the story and could not put it down (luckily I did not have to go in to work on the day I completed it). It is a novel that reflects what happens to some women and I cannot help but wonder where the author found her inspiration I Invited Her In is a novel that may sound far-fetched to some; but it is a novel that reflects a partial truth of what may be happening in many families. If you enjoy reading suspense within a family setting, this is a perfect novel for you.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 11th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Inkling by Kenneth Oppel

During the recent OLA (Ontario Library Association) Super Conference, I was fortunate enough to attend a book signing by Kenneth Oppel, a well-known Canadian author of middle grade literature. I got his book Inkling signed for my daughter with the proviso that I read it before she gets it.

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Children’s Fiction

Blurb: 

Ethan’s dad is a comic artist whose greatest creation, the mutant superhero Kren, brought him fame and glory. But after his dad’s string of successful books, a tragedy strikes the family and now his dad is completely stuck.

If only artistic talent were hereditary. Ethan is stuck on a graphic-novel project of his own at school and won’t own up to the fact that he can’t draw. When one night an ink-blot creation emerges from his father’s sketchbook, the family’s whole world begins to change.

Featuring artwork by the beloved, award-winning illustrator Sydney Smith, Inkling is a timeless story that speaks to the creator in us all.

My thoughts: 

I loved this book even before reading it! The illustrations are perfect for the story, and I loved the scent of the novel as I paged through it. It reminded me of the days I used to use the roneo machine to make copies of worksheets for my class.

Right from the first page, I fell in love with the story. We are introduced to an unusual character in the novel: Inkling, a blot of ink that come’s from the sketchbook of Ethan’s dad. With the advent of Inkling, a young boy (Ethan) comes to certain realisations about himself; and a dad comes to realise that he has been neglecting his family and where he should go with his art.

The story kept me engrossed and I finished it in two sittings. There was not a moment when I was bored with the story; or a time when I thought I would put the book aside. Instead as I kept flipping the pages over, I thought of how much my students would love this novel. The one character, Inkling, is unusual and yet Ethan is a normal boy living at home, going to school, and doing things young boys do. It is the type of life readers would recognise and connect with. Readers would also recognise the friendships and rivalries described in the story.

Kenneth Oppel has once again written a story that will capture the hearts and imagination of his audience. This novel is creative, has a sense of adventure, and touches on issues important to young readers. This children’s book will, I believe, keep the young child turning the page to find out what Inkling will get up to next. I highly recommend this book for the 7 – 12 year old in your life. Even a reluctant reader’s imagination will be captured by Kenneth Oppel’s Inkling.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 10th in my book pledge for 2019)

Grateful for School Closure

Yesterday I woke up to the news that the school board had closed the schools due to the weather – we were in for a snow storm which would later turn onto an ice storm. The news was unexpected as the last two times in the past few weeks that we had had bad weather with slippery roads, the school board I worked for had kept their schools open even though other school boards had closed theirs. Looking outside as the snow fell to the ground and whitened our environment, I was glad I could stay inside. I had a moment’s thought to venture outside but the howling wind encouraged me to change my mind.Not only would I be battling against the wind, but the sidewalks would not be cleared of snow.

This week I am grateful for the school closure. Not only did I have the opportunity to relax and read at home, I also did not have to venture out into the snow storm, struggle against the wind, and make my way through fallen snow.

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

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

A Gift of a Rose

For some reason we were talking birthdays in class – maybe because there are a number of birthdays happening in the next few weeks. One of my students (whom I have known for a number of years), asked me when my birthday was. He was very upset that he had missed it as he had planned on giving me a gift. He must have expressed his disappointment at home because, a few days later, he gave me the gift of a rose for my birthday.

Gift of a Rose © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

I could not help but smile when I received his gift. He was grinning from ear to ear and was so happy to see that I was pleased with the rose. And me? The gesture had certainly made my day – and is still making me smile when I look at the rose placed on my side table.

What is the sweetest gift you have received?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post was inspired by Trent’s Weekly Smile, a challenge which focuses on sharing all things positive.)

Book Review: The Huntress by Kate Quinn

I enjoy reading historical fiction as not only are you introduced to wonderful characters, but you are introduced to a segment of history. I had not read any books by Kate Quinn and was eager to read the ARC of The Huntress sent to me by Harper Collins Canada.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb: 

A fascinating historical novel about a battle-haunted English journalist and a Russian female bomber pilot who join forces to track the Huntress, a Nazi war criminal gone to ground in America.

Bold, reckless Nina Markova grows up on the icy edge of Soviet Russia, dreaming of flight and fearing nothing. When the tide of war sweeps over her homeland, she gambles everything to join the infamous Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on Hitler’s eastern front. But when she is downed behind enemy lines and thrown across the path of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, Nina must use all her wits to survive.

British war correspondent Ian Graham has witnessed the horrors of war from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials. He abandons journalism after the war to become a Nazi hunter, yet one target eludes him: the Huntress. Fierce, disciplined Ian must join forces with brazen, cocksure Nina, the only witness to escape the Huntress alive. But a shared secret could derail their mission, unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride grows up in post WWII Boston, determined despite family opposition to become a photographer. At first delighted when her long-widowed father brings home a fiancée, Jordan grows increasingly disquieted by the soft-spoken German widow who seems to be hiding something. Armed only with her camera and her wits, Jordan delves into her new stepmother’s past and slowly realizes there are mysteries buried deep in her family. But Jordan’s search for the truth may threaten all she holds dear.

My thoughts: 

The novel is told from three points of view: Nina, Ian, and Jordan. Their experiences and thoughts are expertly woven to create a story that I enjoyed and raced through. An added bonus of the story is that the two women (Nina and Jordan) are both shown as being courageous: Nina fearlessly flies a night bomber during the war; and Jordan begins to believe in her own courage and perception.

Even though I learned a little snippet of history in this novel, I was not bored. Instead, the history is a necessary part of the novel that sets the scene for bravery, romance, and heartache. I loved that there was a little romance in the story; and that unexpected happiness could be found in spite of the War. Quinn realistically describes her characters and their experiences and, with the descriptions given, I was able to see in my mind the scenes that she had set. I could not help but turn the pages avidly to discover the next step in the characters’ experiences.

The Huntress was an excellent read. I have enjoyed the story so much I am convinced I need to pick up Quinn’s previous novel, The Alice Network (which is still on the bestseller list). If you enjoy historical fiction, this novel needs to be added to your TBR list.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 9th in my book pledge for 2019)

Music Monday: I’ve Gotta Feeling

A few years back, my eldest daughter loved the Black-Eyed Peas. I bought the album for her and we spent many hours listening to the songs (which I also loved).The tunes are catchy and you would often find us moving our feet to the beat. It has been a while now since we have listened to the album – but you never really forget the songs that you have listened to many times in the past.

When I was searching for choreography to learn as a warm-up for the first Zumba class that I wish to one day lead, I came across I Gotta Feeling by The Black-Eyed Peas. I knew straight away that this was the song that I wanted to learn. I already knew the song, so that was one less thing that I had to learn.

The song already has memories for me and now I plan to make even more.

Have you listened to The Black-Eyed Peas?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

A Learning Curve

Slowly. But surely. Step by Step.

I am currently learning my first set of choreography to lead a Zumba class. I decided to begin with the warm-up segment which normally comprises of three songs. During the past week, I followed the video to learn the choreography by myself and today, for the first time, I led the class I normally attend (my instructor has graciously volunteered to help me learn and practice). Being the lead is definitely a different experience to following the teacher of a class. All these faces look to you to lead and follow whatever dance moves you show them. In addition, as the instructor, you begin with the left leg/side instead of the right – a fact that takes some time getting used to.

As expected, my mind went blank partway through the choreography. I continued regardless, skipping over parts I could not remember and following the beat of the music. I love that the people I dance with on a Sunday morning were supportive and after the class were celebrating the fact that I had led a song on my own. This week I aim to practice more – and hopefully next Sunday I will remember all of the choreography and lead with confidence.

Slowly. But surely. Step by Step.

What have you learned step by step?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday and Just Jot It January challenge. The prompt begin your post with a word ending in -ly.)

Weekend Coffee Share: A Cold and Sickly Week

Join us for some coffee time!If we were having coffee, I would greet you with a tired smile and a bit of a cough. This week my body insisted on resting and saddled me with a cough and runny nose. I guess it was my turn to get sick! I still went into school as my students were presenting their projects during the week and I needed to be there to assess them. They did a good job with their projects and they were so excited to share what they had learned about one of their ancestral countries. I plan on inviting the parents into the classroom next week to come and have a look at what the children have done – and for the children to have the opportunity to share what they have learned with parents.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the weather this week has not been too pleasant. After a very mild weekend, the temperatures dropped and with it came precipitation in the form of ice pellets and snow. We experienced a couple of days in which we had indoor recess. I made sure the children had an opportunity to get rid of their excess energy by putting on Just Dance for them. Most of the kids enjoy this activity though there are some who do not enjoy moving their bodies.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I read a Middle Grade novel during the past week – Inkling by Kenneth Oppel. I really like his writing and loved this story. Keep a look out for my review this week if you are on the look out for a wonderful story for 7 – 12 year olds.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Monday evening my family and I went to dinner to celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year. We had a wonderful time eating delicious food. I loved the atmosphere in the restaurant and could not resist snapping a few pictures of their decorations.

We ate until we were too full – definitely too many dumplings! As always, we enjoyed the variety of the buffet and ended the meal with a few bites of dessert.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I intend to rest this weekend and hope that by Monday my throat will no longer be aching.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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