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)

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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)

Square in September: A Sitting Room in Pink

During our visit to Paris, we spent a day at the Chateau de Versailles, one of the well-known palaces of the Sun King, Louis XIV. When visiting the Grand Trianon, a retreat built by Louis XIV for his mistress at the time, we were not surprised by the opulence of the rooms. One of the sitting rooms was decorated with fabrics of a deep cerise pink.

A sitting room in the Grand Trianon at the Chateau de Versailles. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

One can imagine the King and his mistress, the Marquise de Montespan, entertaining their friends in this room.

© 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’)

Thursday Doors: Chateau de Vincennes

During our trip to Paris, I wanted my family to see a castle and took them to see the Chateau de Vincennes on the edge of Paris. The last time I visited the building, it was in ruins. In recent years, the site has been fixed using traditional methods.

After passing through the huge entrance doorway, we walked in the courtyard to the ticket office. We passed a number of doors that were more modern but were surrounded by brickwork that was from an age long gone.

We were able to walk up to the wall of the castle and visit some of the rooms that had been opened. The doorway to the worn stairs was small and covered by a wooden door.

The doors leading to the prison were interesting. They were made of wood but had a steel front. The doors made me think of those shows I enjoy watching that are set in the past – or even of the fantasy world in The Game of Thrones.

A door leading to the prison. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

The last stop of our visit was the chapel on the premises. One would assume the church would be small but this Gothic building dominated the people entering it.

The Gothic chapel at the Chateau de Vincennes © Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Our trip to the castle was interesting and even though I had previously visited, I saw a lot more this time round than I had seen on my last trip.

Have you seen the doors at the Chateau de Vincennes?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Norm’s Thursday Doors challenge)

Share Your World: Passion and Equality

NEWSYWbannerAre You A Better Listener or Speaker?

I am definitely a better listener – so much so that I have encountered strangers who felt they could unburden their worries with me. However as I have grown older, I have become better at speaking, especially in front of an audience of more than a couple of people. Speaking in front of people is still not easy and it is not something that I seek out.

If You Were Asked To Design A Warning Label That Would Be Tattooed On Your Skin, What Would It Say? 

Caution! Mature woman at work.

What Are You Passionate About?

The first thing that comes to mind is education. Teaching our younger generations is an important task which includes not only reading, writing and arithmetic but also the socialisation aspect, how to work with others, and how to think critically. Children who have been educated are able to participate in society and feel their worth. There are those in the world who believe that the work of educators can be done by anyone; people who disregard the worth of the lessons learned when younger. To them I say: come do my job for a week; and remember that you would not be in your high paying job today if it were not for the work that educators had in preparing you for your position.

If You Could Change One Thing About Your World, What Would It Be?

That women, as a gender, are treated with respect by all men. They say we have equality, and yet women are paid less than men for doing the same work. They say we have equality, and yet women are expected to work harder at their job to earn the same respect a man has when doing less. They say we have equality, and yet women are the ones who do more in the home. They say we have equality, and yet women are still often treated as second class citizens by some salesmen (yes, men). Yes, there are men out there who treat women with respect – yet there are still those who continue to treat women as the inferior sex.

What Gave You A Reason To Smile This Past Week?

I am relieved that the temperatures have dropped (though I wasn’t too enamoured with the continuous rain yesterday). I no longer have heat rash and I am sleeping much better. This past Summer was brutal weather-wise and I look forward to enjoying the milder Fall temperatures.

What would you answer to any of these questions?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Sparks, the new host of Cee’s Share Your World weekly challenge).

Book Review: The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest

At the Frenzy Presents Event hosted by Harper Collins Canada to which I was invited, I received not only a copy of The Black Witch by Laurie Forest, but also an ARC of the second book in the fantasy tale – The Iron Flower. After reading the first volume of The Black Witch Chronicles, I was eager to read the second and dove right in. I had quickly become a fan of Laurie Forest and was eager to read more on the world she had created, and read the stories of the characters I had come to love.

Genre: young adult, fantasy

Release Date: 18 September 2018

Blurb:

Elloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs, but their actions have propelled them straight into the ranks of the realm-wide Resistance against Gardnerian encroachment. As the Resistance struggles against the harsh rulings of High Priest Marcus Vogel and the Mage Council, Elloren begins to realize that none of the people she cares about will be safe if Gardneria seizes control of the Western Realm.

With tensions heating up in Verpacia, more and more Gardnerian soldiers continue to descend upon the university…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the newly rebuilt Fourth Division base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to wandfast to her, convinced that she has inherited her grandmother’s magic—the prophesied power of the Black Witch. As his very nearness seems to awaken a darkness inside her, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.

Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas Grey, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself.

My Thoughts: 

I absolutely loved the first volume in this epic saga (The Black Witch)  and hoped that Forest would continue with all that I loved of her first novel in the second. I was not disappointed. The representations of the characters I had grown to love were just as rich; the attacks on society just as subtle. The germinating seeds of the Resistance in Elloren as described in the first novel in this series, begin to flower in the second. Our protagonist grows even more as a person in this volume in spite of – or because of – events out of her control.

I do not want to tell you too much of the story as I would not want to spoil it for you. What I will tell you is that Forest’s descriptions of those peopling Gardenia once again entranced me. I could see the detail in my mind as I was reading: the hair and colour of skin, the dress, the beauty enhancements. While reading, I held my breath with Elloren; and my heart raced for her as she worked towards the safety of her friends. I was invested in the story and hoped that the outcome for her and her friends would be a positive one.

I read book 2 of The Black Witch Chronicles in two days over the Labour Day weekend (and the tome is not short). I could not put the book down and immersed myself willingly in a fantasy world filled with dragons, selkies, and fae people. The grandeur of this world is an epic one and one which – when I turned the last page – left me wanting more.

The Iron Flower  by Laurie Forest is an excellent read and a perfect sequel to the first. If you are looking to start a new series, or you are looking for an epic read, I do suggest reading The Black Witch Chronicles – you will not be disappointed.

Review of Book 1: The Black Witch  by Laurie Forest

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 5 stars with no hesitation.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 60th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)