Book Review: Killer City by Seumas Gallacher

I had read the three previous novels in the Jack Calder series by Seumas Gallacher so I was looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Killer City.

The story line begins with the discovery of a woman’s mutilated torso in a dumpster in the north of England. Jack Calder, a former SAS officer, propses to help an old friend’s son who has been been framed for the murder. He leads  his colleagues at their specialist security firm, International Security Partners, from Manchester and London across Europe to Lithuania in order to hunt down those responsible for the murder.

The story is fast-paced and what a reader would expect from an action-packed story. I did not, however, enjoy this story as much as I did the previous ones. Instead I wished for more than a description of mayhem. As this is the fourth novel centred around a same character, I wished to learn a little more about Jack Calder, the person. Having said that, the novel is perfect for a quick read – and would not have to be read in order of the series to be enjoyed.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 46th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

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Weekend Coffee Share: Connections

Join us for some coffee time!

If we were having coffee, I would welcome you in from the heat and offer you an iced drink. It has been hot this past week with high humidity . My body definitely does not like the heat as attested by the heat rash I have been experiencing.

The week began with a public holiday – which for us was a lazy day hanging out at home. I took the weekend to rest from our trip to Paris – something I hadn’t done during the week because I had attended a workshop. This week I did not do too much and managed to do a bit of reading (my guilty pleasure!). Because of the heat, I read in front of the fan and drank a lot of iced tea.

The highlight of the past week was the connections I made with a few people. My cousin, whom I hadn’t seen in twenty years, visited Toronto to see his brothers and I was lucky enough to see him for a couple of hours when his twin brother brought him over to visit. As I had been in Paris, I was unable to see him more often during his visit – but I am grateful that I had a chance to share a cup of tea with him (iced, of course). It was good to catch up with someone from my past, find out what he was doing in New Zealand, and reminisce a bit about childhood moments.

Another connection I made during this past week was meeting up with my mentee for coffee. Both of us are sad that she was surplused from our school and that we will no longer be working together. I enjoyed seeing her smiling face and hearing her chatter. We, of course, began talking about school and what we wish to do this coming year with our students. We cannot help ourselves 🙂 The ideas always buzz around when we are talking.

Today has dawned as a beautiful day. At noon I will be leaving to go on a picnic birthday for the son of one of my ex-colleagues. It will be good to see her again before school starts. I am hoping next week to connect with another ex-colleague before the craziness of the school year begins.

I wish you a wonderful week – may it be filled with connections.

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 Waters and The Wild by Desales Harrison

I received the ARC for The Waters and the Wild by DeSales Harrison when I attended the 2018 OLA Super Conference in February. The cover of the proof attracted me and the story intrigued me so I picked it up to take home to read.

The novel is a story about a psychoanalyst who is haunted by a past crime and a past lover. Daniel Abend is a single parent who lives and works in New York City. He has a successful practice, lives a comfortable life, has a beautiful daughter, and follows an untroubled routine. When one of his young patients commits suicide, it is a tragedy that can be easily explained by her depression and drug addiction. Shortly afterwards, however, Daniel receives a note that makes him question his patient’s death. Then his daughter abruptly disappears. A series of letters from an unknown sender ensnares Daniel in a desperate search for his daughter and the truth – a search that goes back decades into his past to the time when he was a young man living in Paris.

The story promises mystery, passion, betrayal, and redemption. It is, however, not a fast-paced psychological thriller. Instead it moves slowly as bit by bit the reader unearths the past life and actions of Daniel Abend. The story is beautifully written and is more a literary novel than one that can be completed in a day. The Waters and the Wild is a book that takes time to read but is one that you would wish to finish as you uncover surprise after surprise in the character’s life. This is not a novel for those who wish for a quick and easy read.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 45th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: Things Are Good Now by Djamila Ibrahim

I met Djamila Ibrahim at the 2018 OLA Super Conference when she signed a copy of her book for me. She told us that her book is a collection of stories told to her by the immigrants to Canada that she had met in her line of work. As a person who was not born in Canada, I was interested to read the stories of others who had crossed the seas to experience life in another country.

Things Are Good Now is a collection of short stories based on the experiences of men, women and children who find themselves in a country far-removed from the experience of their homeland. Their Canadian experience is referred to in their story but the book focuses on snapshots of the experience these people had in the North African countries of their birth.

I found the stories interesting – some more interesting than others. Some of the experiences of being in a strange country resonated with me as I had experienced those feelings myself. What I hadn’t experienced was the refugee experience which so many of the stories subtly refer to. Ibrahim paints a picture for us of a life and of decisions made with no judgement; a picture which helps the reader to understand the choices that a person may make. I enjoyed reading this collection, and it is one that I will pass onto my children to read.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐️⭐ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 44th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Share Your World: My Favourite Treats

In regards to puzzle what’s your choice: jigsaw, crossword, word search, mazes, logic or numeric puzzles, something else, or nothing?

Jigsaw puzzles are not my thing – though I did do ones up to 150 pieces with my girls when they were younger. Anything bigger frustrates me and I itch to move onto something else. Growing up and as a young adult, I used to love doing word searches and each week would do the ones in my mom’s magazine. Now I no longer have those magazines to turn to (I am unable to get them as I live in a different country to the one I grew up in), and instead spend my spare time reading, blogging or watching TV. This question has me remembering the pleasure I used to get from doing these searches. It may be time I get myself a puzzle book!

List at least five favorite treats and it doesn’t necessarily have to be food.

The following makes me feel good inside, and always makes me happy:

  1. Long chatty dinners with my family. I love it when we circle around all topics and manage to throw in some laughter. The dinners on special occasions are an added treat.
  2. A good book that I can read more than once.
  3. A dinner cooked by someone else. It does not have to be at a restaurant – home-cooked meals are often better. I love it when my husband cooks – especially when he tries out new recipes.
  4. Going to the cinema to watch a movie on the big screen.
  5. And, of course, anything chocolatey!

What is your favorite type of dog? (can be anything from a specific breed, a stuffed animal or character in a movie)

I do not have a favourite. Growing up we had a variety and I loved them all. The nice thing about small dogs is that they can cuddle on your lap but the bigger dogs are equally affectionate.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? 

During the past week I have appreciated the comfort of my bed and the softness of my pillow. During our stay in Paris, the beds we slept on were hard and the pillows uncomfortable. I love the mattress and the bedding that we have chosen for our bedroom and have enjoyed them even more than usual during the past week.

041514 sywbannerWhat would you answer to any of these questions?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Cee’s Share Your World weekly challenge). 

Book Review: The Break by Marian Keyes

I finally picked up my copy of The Break by Marion Keyes. I had been saving the read for a time when I would be able to read uninterrupted – and the second week of my Summer Break was a perfect time for it.

What would you do if your spouse decided to take a break from your marriage? Amy’s husband, Hugh, tells her just that. He says he is not leaving her, but that he needs six months off from the marriage and all the responsibility that comes with it. While he has gone to South East Asia, Amy is left behind to shoulder the responsibility of her family – and to decide what she wants to do during the break from her marriage.

Amy’s story is told with humour – but also with insight. As a reader, I explored Amy’s feelings, her inhibitions and her indecision. And, while doing so, what I read resonated with me. Some of her frustrations with family, for example, have been some of my frustrations. Her sense of being overwhelmed by all that is expected of her, is an experience that so many women in our society experience today. Amy’s story reflects not only some of my personal experience, but also the experience of women who wait on the sidelines while their husband experiences a mid-life crisis. It is the reflection of a woman’s experience that makes this story by Marian Keyes relevant to her readers.

I enjoyed reading this novel and would recommend it to any person who enjoys reading stories about the woman’s experience. This is a story that I will certainly reread.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐️⭐ 5 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 43rd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Weekend Coffee Share: I am Back!

Join us for some coffee time!If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am back from our family vacation – and have been for a week. We arrived last week Sunday in the early evening. We were exhausted from the trip and glad to be back home. We had spend some solid family time together in Paris and we had loved every minute of it. But we were tired – we had done a LOT of walking! At the end of the day on Sunday, my husband and I lay our heads down on our pillows with a sigh of pleasure. We had missed sleeping in our own bed covered by our own duvet.

Our family vacation in Paris was wonderful and I enjoyed walking the streets of this fair city after 29 years. Little things had changed, but so many things were the same. I enjoyed seeing things like the Eiffel Tower again, and remembering the walks I had taken down the Champs Élysées. It was a treat to see the paintings by Monet and Renoir again, as well as the painting of Napoleon’s coronation at the Louvre. The best thing for me about the vacation, however, was spending quality time with my family. Unlike when we went on holiday at a resort, the five of us were together all of the time. Eating together three times a day, we had the opportunity to talk a lot. Many meals were picnic-like , though we did treat ourselves a number of times at a restaurant.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that during the past week I attended a teacher’s workshop – even though I was not fully recovered from our vacation. The workshop was centred on Math for the K-2 grades. Even though I already knew most of what the presenters spoke about, I did learn a few nuggets that I will implement in my classroom this year. It is important, I feel, to keep on learning and to work on improving my teaching practice. In this way, I prevent boredom from setting in – and I figure out ways to reach all of the students in my class.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that right now it is HOT. All I want to do is sit in front of the fans and read / watch Netflix. I have a number of books that I still want to read before I go back to school and have placed them on the table next to the bed. Our vacation in Paris meant that I did not have much opportunity to read in July as we had spent a lot of time sight seeing. I intend to play catch up during the month of August.

If we were having coffee (of course, iced), I would tell you that my plan for the forthcoming week is to do a little bit of tidying up in our place (if it is not too hot). I like the place to be cleaned from top to bottom before the school year starts as I do not have much chance to do so during the school year. I also plan to read, and to catch up on my book reviews – I have a number to do for the month of July. It is only a couple of weeks left before I begin to get ready for the new school year.

If we were having coffee, I would wish you a wonderful week. And if you are like me and live in Ontario, Canada enjoy the public holiday tomorrow.

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)

A Family Vacation: Paris, France

The time has arrived for our family vacation and in a few hours we will be taking a plane to Paris France. We have been saving a long time for this trip and have itched to get on the plane since we bought the tickets. We have read about the city, and planned the sights that we wish to see. Bags have been packed, and Canadian Dollars have been changed for Euros. As we lock the door to our home and walk away for 2 weeks, I leave with the knowledge that my days will be spent as a tourist. Blogging will take a back seat, and will probably be non-existent. I will, however, share moments with you when I get back from our trip. Until then, Au Revoir. 🙂

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Book Review: Liar by K. L. Slater

I have a TBR list of books lent to me by my cousin. When he heard that I had enjoyed Blink by K.L. Slater, one of his favourite authors, he lent me all of the novels that he has bought by this author. I took the one on the top of this pile to read next.

Liar is a psychological thriller that explores the relationship between a mother and a daughter-in-law. We read about Ben, a single dad who is doing his best to raise his two sons alone with the help of his devoted mother, Judi. Life is not easy but they are managing. Then Ben meets Amber. Everyone thinks that Amber is a good match for Ben but Judi is not so sure – she feels that something about Amber does not add up. Ben cannot understand why his mother does not like his new girlfriend. And Amber doesn’t want Judi anywhere near her new family. Judi delves into Amber’s personal life and unearths some shocking secrets – secrets that could change everything.

Slater’s novel is a page turner with an unexpected twist at the end. What was interesting to me was that the author chose to explore the mother/daughter-in-law relationship – and included a twist. As I was reading the novel, I could feel the tension between the two women, a tension that is reflected in many existing relationships. Slater’s authentic description of a relationship that can be fraught with tension, made the events in the novel believable.

It was easy for me to complete this novel in one day  as I could not put it down. I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 42nd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Bookstagram: Canadian Authors

This year I have been fortunate to have met some Canadian authors at events organised by Harper Collins Canada Publishers. Meeting the authors has been inspiring, and has given me an added understanding of their writing.Have you met any Canadian authors?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(I have started to participate in a photo challenge on Instagram created for people who love books and reading. I have decided to share my photos on my blog as well.)