Music Monday: Do They Know It's Christmas

This time of year while I am playing Christmas songs, I always think of a hit I enjoyed when it came out in 1984. The revenue of this song was intended to go to the charity helping those who do not have the essentials that we take for granted.

Christmas is a time to reflect on what you have as a person: family, shelter, enough food. It is a time of excess and yet there are so many in the world without. I know I am definitely lucky – even though there have been years when we struggled, we always had our most basic needs met.

Do you remember this song by Band Aid?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Weekend Coffee Share: Already December!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I just woke up from a nap. I have been feeling exhausted the whole week and what I have been fighting has finally caught up with me. I have a headache, my throat is aching, and all I want to do is close my eyes. I was hoping I could avoid being sick but my body has decided otherwise.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the weekend ended with another snowfall. It looked so pretty when I stepped outside on Thursday morning. I love walking outside when the snow is falling: it is peaceful and and I enjoy the crunch of my steps as I walk on the virgin snow.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I cannot believe that there are only two weeks of school left before we break for the winter break. The time seems to be rushing by quickly. Next week is our school concert and my class is taking part. I do Zumba with my class as part of their DPA (Daily Physical Activity) when they do not have gym. For the concert we have chosen 3 songs to show the parents and we have been practicing them. The children are excited to perform them on stage. My intention is that we practice this week on the stage.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it was a PA day on Friday. In the afternoon, I took the opportunity to pop into the hairdresser and touch up my colour. I loved the way she dried my hair – it looked so pretty afterwards.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Saturday I received a wonderful surprise. Everyone loves bookmail – and the mail I received was from Harper Collins Canada: the publishing house that I read and review for. They sent a beautiful Christmas card with more ARCs than I had expected: 3 Young Adult and 5 Adult. I felt spoiled. I guess, though, that they are thanking me for all the books I read and review for them (whether I have received the ARC or not).

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend I spent more time with my daughter bullet journaling. I am really enjoying this hobby and I think I will keep it up. I love the creativity of it as well as the time that I spend with my daughters around the table. It is a time that we chat, catch up and listen to a little music. Definitely something I want to keep doing until they no longer want to.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that now I am going to take some time to do a little marking – I must try and attempt to do a little of the work that I brought home to do this weekend! 😀 The upcoming week here looks cold. I hope that you stay warm and have a good week.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

Autumn Snowfall

Yesterday I woke up to a snowfall. This is the third time this Fall – the prognosis does not look good for winter. Seems like we are in for a long, cold one.

The freshly fallen snow does look pretty though, and I love the quiet that the falling snow brings with it.

The white layer of snow does bring character to a grey city back lit by grey clouds. Living here surrounded by all the cement and bare trees can be a little depressing at times.

Today the snow still looks pretty. I am sure tomorrow will come with lower temperatures. Brrr!

Have you had any snowfall yet?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Book Review: The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

I attended a Harper Presents event to listen to Gilly MacMillan speak as she is one of my preferred authors. Tarryn Fisher was another writer set to speak at the event and, even though I had not read any of her novels, I was curious to listen to her. After the talk, I had the opportunity to receive a signed ARC of her upcoming novel, The Wives.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Blurb:

Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.

But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.

My thoughts:

The Wives has an unusual premise as polygamy is not a usual theme that runs in thrillers. Fisher makes it work, though, and I believed the setup that she had created. The story is told in the voice of Thursday, Seth’s second wife, and all the events described are seen through her eyes.

Near the midway of the novel, I was confused as the setup I believed to be true turned out not to be. As expected, the confusion led to a twist which then caused me to see the story with a different viewpoint and expectation. It was interesting for me to read through the thought patterns of Thursday – I questioned something when the character did, and grasped a thought when she did.

Before the midway twist, the story read like a drama in which a woman is describing her relationship with her partner and, at times, seemed a little mediocre. After the twist, the pace of the novel picked up and I became more invested in the story as the content became more interesting. My mind kept switching allegiances between Thursday herself and Seth. Which story is the truth? This is the question I kept asking myself. I enjoyed the final twist at the end of the story – part of which was unexpected.

Tarryn Fisher’s The Wives is an enjoyable psychological thriller that does not get too intense. The pace in the beginning is a bit slow and the story a little ordinary but it does pick up. The story is not too original but the way that Fisher sets it up is different to what I have read. The novel is a quick read and perfect if you are looking for a story that you can read quickly and not think too deeply about.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 109th in my book pledge for 2019)

Unchained

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria

She was here. Finally. Macy breathed in the foreign smells and allowed the cacophony of sound embrace her. No longer would she have to hear her mother’s repetitive criticisms hurled at her in bitterness; nor would she have to apologise for every misstep by her younger siblings. Instead she was free to breathe without restraint, to sing with joy, to shout from the rooftops if she wanted. The bonds tying her to her family had been broken with no regret. Her sense of relief had been palpable.

She hailed a taxi and stepped into a life of her own making.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(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: Unblemished by Sara Ella

I was browsing the discounted stacks at my local bookstore when I came upon Unblemished by Sara Ella. I read the blurb with interest when I saw that it was a fantasy fiction read. The story piqued my interest so I decided to take it home with me.

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Blurb:

Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.

Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself? 

My thoughts:

I enjoyed Ella’s story in another Reflection of our world – especially her description of the environment (for which some original vocabulary is used). Her description of what she calls a “trome” reminds me a little of a book by Enid Blyton that I reread many times as a young child – The Folk of the Faraway Tree. As expected, the connection resonated with me and I wished to read even more of them.

The romance in the story is set within the format of a love triangle. Eliyana has come to love Joshua and, in the beginning of the story, I was hoping that the two of them would get together. However once Ky comes into the story, I realise that another type of person may be better for her. He seems to bring out the inner strength in her. Does she come to that realisation herself? You would have to read the story to find out! 😀

Unblemished is a romance story; but it is also an adventure story. Eliyana is forced to move out of her comfort zone and, once she does, she learns more about her past as well as about herself. Throughout the novel, our heroine slowly finds an inner confidence that she never thought she possessed. With her confidence, she becomes braver and more willing to stand up for what she believes is right. The gradual unfurling of her confidence is perfectly paced.

The pace of the story kept me interested throughout – though it was not so intense that I was too eager to turn the pages. Unblemished is a fantasy read that incorporates romance and adventure as well as the magical qualities of this genre. I enjoyed this novel and have ordered the rest of the series to read.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 108th in my book pledge for 2019)

Mother-Daughter Time

This weekend I did something that I haven’t done in a few years: I sat at the dining room table with my daughters while working on a project. My youngest started bullet journaling earlier this year and I loved how she has created her own planner with a creative flair. The concept of journaling appeals to me as each planner I have tried does not quite suit my needs.

My intention had been to start my own bullet journal in the beginning of 2020 and have been watching plenty of YouTube videos for inspiration. Last week, however, I decided to begin for this month – why wait? So on Saturday I picked up my pencil and started planning my first ever page. The music was playing and my girls were chatting to me. There was a very festive air around the table while we were drawing and counting.

I love the way my first pages turned out. And even though I made errors, I see these as being a part of the journaling experience. The bonus? It was definitely spending time with my teenage girls, listening to their choice of music and swapping anecdotes. We were all smiling the entire time. 😀

What made you smile during the past week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post is linked to Trent’s Weekly Smile, a challenge which focuses on sharing all things positive.)

Music Monday: Mistletoe

December has began – and so has the countdown to Christmas. I love the atmosphere during this time of year: the decorations, the goodwill and cheer, the books, and – of course – the music.

Today I will share with you a more modern Christmas song: Mistletoe by Justin Bieber.

I will be listening to this song – and others – in the forthcoming weeks.

What Christmas songs are you currently listening to?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Book Review: Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

When I first heard of Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin at a Frenzy Presents event, I knew that I would have to read it. A group of bookstagrammers planned on reading it during November so I thought it would be a good opportunity to read the novel with others who enjoy Young Adult Fantasy fiction.

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Blurb:

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

My thoughts:

I absolutely loved this novel! From the beginning, I could see the subtle undertones of Mahurin’s critique on marriage as well as the Church’s historical view of women. I always enjoy a story that is more than just a story and I enjoy novels that encourage my mind to think of my own experiences as well as what I have read in other books. This novel resonates with the patriarchal view of women – a view which the women (portrayed as witches) fight against. It subtly critiques the expected role of women in a marriage. And it encourages the reader to think of the Church’s role in the subjugation of women in a relationship.

Not only did I enjoy the critique on marriage and the Church, I also enjoyed the characters in the story. I love the sassy Lou who ran away from home and who has survived on the streets. And I just can’t help but enjoy Reid’s character – a man who has been brought up within the strict confines of Church doctrines. His world is turned upside down with the advent of Lou becoming a part of his life. The slow-burn romance between the two is fun to read – and caused a smile or two during my enjoyment of the novel. I also enjoyed reading the antics of Coco (Lou’s friend) and of Ansel, a chasseur-in-training who unexpectedly shows compassion for Lou.

Shelby Mahurin’s novel has all that I love in the Fantasy genre: magic, complicated relationships, a subtle critique of social issues, and interesting characters. Serpent and Dove was a perfect read for me and I cannot wait to read the sequel.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 107th in my book pledge for 2019)

A Bookish Canadian Readathon

Today is the start of the Bookish Canadian readathon on Instagram which runs until Sunday evening. I may not be able to complete all the books I have chosen for the readathon but I will try to put a serious dent in the stack.

To show Canadian pride, I have chosen three books written by Canadian authors: Joanna Goodman’s The Home for Unwanted Girls has been on my TBR pile for 2 years now; Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is apparently a classic that many Canadians have read; I received a signed copy of the novel by Ann Lambert, The Birds That Stay, at the OLA Super Conference earlier this year.

As always, I look forward to a weekend of immersing myself in the stories others have created.

What are you reading this weekend?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019