Turning Blue

The day dawned to the sound of birdsong and with a clear blue sky. Mandy stepped out of the house filled with hope. This was the day! Nothing could stop her from achieving her goals. The brisk walk to the subway energised her and she smiled at the strangers around her, positive energy glowing in her eyes.

Descending into the subterranean space, she saw the neon lights flicker. She pushed ahead regardless, knowing that the ride to her destination would be crowded and airless. As always, she hoped it would be quick. The morning transit experience was not one she enjoyed: the pushing. the smells, the crush of bodies packed into the car like glassy-eyed sardines. The soulless journey was endured, not relished, every workday.

Then her worst nightmare!

The train ground to halt, the lights flickered and died. Crushed within the sea of humans, Mandy heard a woman scream. An echoing scream lay dormant in her throat. Forcing herself to breathe, Mandy tried hard not to panic. Closing her eyes against the dark, she focused on what the day was to bring. Positivity. Good news. A chance at promotion.

The ten minutes until the generator kicked in felt the longest she had experienced in her life. And then the wait and the escalating body odours of her forced companions. She really needed to find another way to get to work!

Finally arriving at her destination, Mandy shoved open the door to her office building. She was late and her smile had slowly drowned under the tapping irritation of her foot. Entering the sales floor, her manager cheerily greeted her with the information that she had lost the opportunity she had hoped would be hers. Her hard work had been ignored because she’d been late for the presentation. No one cared about accidents on train tracks or fatal injuries of other humans. After all, leaders are never late.

The day had started with blue skies and birdsong. It ended with darkness and a sense of surrender to the Fates.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday challenge)

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First Line Fridays: Break In Case of Emergency by Brian Francis

Today I begin reading In Case of Emergency by Brian Francis. I am excited to read this novel especially because I met the author on Tuesday. The novel discusses mental health issues and describes a young girl’s coming-of-age story.

“The day I lost my mom, I turned left instead of right. If I had listened to her instructions, if I had turned right, she would still be here.”

Break In Case of Emergency by Brian Francis (2019, Harper Collins Canada)

Already I want to know more – though I will have to wait until I get home this evening before I continue reading!

Would you keep reading?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books and her One Line Friday challenge.)

Something Old, Something New

This year a student has been placed in my class who has in the past exhibited violent behaviour towards her classmates as well as the adults in the room. In order to prepare me for dealing with her, my principal sent me on a workshop yesterday to learn a way in which to deal with the child if she has a violent episode. The CPI training focuses on nonviolent crisis intervention and has, at its core, the safety of all the people in the room.

As a teacher what you want is to prevent the child’s behaviour from escalating. We were reminded of signs that we, as people who work with children daily, already know. She showed us an interesting video to remind us of the importance of non-verbal cues:

The instructor mentioned some techniques that can be used to calm a child down: holding a hand, a stroking, or even giving a hug. I could not help but notice the irony of this as when I was first hired with the board, we were told not to touch the children under any circumstances. I do prefer the message given yesterday as it acknowledges the healing power of touch and how we, as humans, crave the touch of others.

In the afternoon, we were introduced to ways in which to deflect the violence aimed at our bodies. We were also given permission to move away and remove ourselves from the situation that could harm ourselves. We were shown holds to contain a child if necessary – holds that are to be used as a last resort. We practiced them for a while. I do feel, however, that I need to practice it some more. And I hope I never have to use them!

I found it interesting to speak to the other participants at the workshop who are all special education teachers. Their job is to deal with a group of children every day who may display violence. They are accepting of this part of the job and seem adept at dealing with it. I could not help but think as I was speaking to some of them that the CPI training is what an ordinary classroom teacher like me needs as not all children who display violent tendencies have had their behaviour officially documented (especially in the younger grades).

Yesterday was an interesting day. I was reminded of things that I already new; and learned a few new things. Hopefully the CPI training will help me cope with a volatile child in my classroom.

What are your thoughts on non-verbal cues?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Frenzy Presents: Brian Francis

Last night I attended a Frenzy Presents event to launch a new release by Brian Francis. Break In Case of Emergency is his first YA novel which deals with mental health issues and the protagonist’s coming of age. I was excited to meet the author and read the words of a novelist I had not read before.

The evening had another attraction for me: I would see my dear friend who lives quite a distance from me. Normally when school is on, we don’t see one another. However, her children’s sports programmes have not yet started so she was able to meet me at the event.

I was enjoying her company so much that I forgot to take pictures! The snacks offered were yummy and the author was so nice to chat to. As the event was held at a restaurant, he came to each table and chatted with us for a while. So pleasant. My only regret was that he could not chat with us for longer! (And that I forgot to take a photo with him!)

Last night was a night to smile. I met an author, chatted with him, received a lovely novel to read, and spent time with my dear friend.

What has made you smile this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

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

Searching For Clues

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

Taking his glasses off, Thomas slowly rubbed his eyes. Searching for clues in the book was difficult: this was the text she’d been reading when she disappeared and the subject matter wasn’t enthralling.

“You know she may have left of her own accord?”

“No Nathaniel, I know my wife. She’d never abandon her children – they mean the world to her. There was something about Highgate she figured out – something that put her in danger. I know it.”

Putting on his glasses, he turned to the text again. He could not give up! He sensed Sylvia’s life depended on it.

© 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: Suggested Reading by Dave Connis

At the Frenzy Presents event at the end of August, I was lucky enough to receive one of the books that I hoped to read: Suggested Reading by Dave Connis.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary

Publication Date: 17 September 2019

Blurb:

A bookworm finds a way to fight back when her school bans dozens of classic and meaningful books.

Clara Evans is horrified when she discovers her principal’s “prohibited media” hit list. The iconic books on the list have been pulled from the library and aren’t allowed anywhere on the school’s premises. Students caught with the contraband will be sternly punished.

Many of these stories have changed Clara’s life, so she’s not going to sit back and watch while her draconian principal abuses his power. She’s going to strike back.

So Clara starts an underground library in her locker, doing a shady trade in titles like Speak and The Chocolate War. But when one of the books she loves most is connected to a tragedy she never saw coming, Clara’s forced to face her role in it.

Will she be able to make peace with her conflicting feelings, or is fighting for this noble cause too tough for her to bear?

My thoughts:

From the moment I started reading this novel, I knew I would love it. Not only does the story centre on a love of reading and censorship, but it also describes the emotions felt by the reader. Connis describes the reader’s experience when reading a beloved book – and it is perfect! The anticipation, the dread, the emotions. all are described as Clara (the main character) expresses her feelings when completing her current read.

Even today, book censorship can be an issue in some circles. These books are seen to have a negative impact on some readers – forgetting that, instead, these books describe the readers voice perfectly. Other books may have us question our social values, or the trends that can be seen in our environment. Books make us think and, if they are censored, those with the decision-making power intend for readers to think within the box.

Clara Evens fights for the books that she believes are important. She fights for the right to think outside of the box. She fights to read and think freely. While she is fighting the censorship of certain books at her school, she comes to the realisation of certain things about herself and how she was censoring other people’s actions. It was interesting to read how she developed as a person in the story. Just like books open a reader’s mind to ideas; her fight for these books opened her mind to the full persona of the people that she had previously disregarded.

This is definitely a book I would read again as there is so much to think about when enjoying the story. Even though it is described as a Young Adult novel, I believe that even older adults would appreciate both the story and the message. Suggested Reading is a novel that is definitely on my suggested reading list and would be perfect for any book lover!

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars with no reservation

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 86th in my book pledge for 2019)

Music Monday: China

Over the weekend, I attempted a new choreography created by Zumba to the song China by a group of singers including Daddy Yankee. I love the music – so catchy.

The choreography looks simple when you watch it – but actually doing it made me realise it is not as easy as it looks. Many of the combinations are new to me and I think this one may take me a while to learn. In the meantime, I will just enjoy the music.

Have you heard this song? It is new on the air waves.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Weekend Coffee Share: First Week Back At School

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last week was my first week back at school. On Tuesday, after the Labour Day weekend, I had met all of my students by 9am. Thankfully there were only a few tears as most of the children knew me by sight even though had had not already been in my classroom. Most of my class this year are grade 2s (16 students of the 20) and I had interacted with some of them last year in the hallways.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the week flew by quickly. I had a lot to do – and the upcoming week will be no different. September is filled with deadlines and I like to get it all done as quickly as possible – before I know it, the time to work on the progress reports will arrive.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my class is settling in nicely. I am slowly getting to know them; and they are slowly getting to know the routines of the class. Time will tell what I need to focus on this year as I get to know their needs and what it is that they enjoy.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend I have the sniffles. I was not completely over my summer cold when work started up again and my body is reminding me of this. I have spent the weekend resting a bit in between my chores and I am hoping that I will feel in top form tomorrow.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that yesterday afternoon I spent some time with my weekend read: A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. This is a fantasy novel that is all over Instagram at the moment as readers are posting extremely positive views of it. I decided to read it as fantasy fiction is my favourite. And I can say that so far the writing is excellent!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that supper is ready to be served. My husband knows the way to my heart (read yesterday’s SoCS post to understand this comment more). 🙂

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)

Book Review: The Christmas Boutique by Jennifer Chiaverini

I enjoy Christmas stories and was curious about a novel describing quilting as my mom loves to quilt and I see it to be a wonderful talent. It is for these reasons that I requested to read and review The Christmas Boutique by Jennifer Chiaverini from my contact at Harper Collins Canada.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Christmas

Publication Date: 1 October 2019

Blurb:

Just weeks before Christmas, severe wintry weather damages the church hall hosting the Christmas Boutique—an annual sale of handcrafted gifts and baked goods that supports the county food pantry. Determined to save the fundraiser, Sylvia Bergstrom Compson offers to hold the event at Elm Creek Manor, her ancestral family estate and summertime home to Elm Creek Quilt Camp.

In the spirit of the season, Sylvia and the Elm Creek Quilters begin setting up market booths in the ballroom and decking the halls with beautiful hand-made holiday quilts. Each of the quilters chooses a favorite quilt to display, a special creation evoking memories of holidays past and dreams of Christmases yet to come. Sarah, a first-time mother expecting twins, worries if she can handle raising two babies, especially with her husband so often away on business. Cheerful, white-haired Agnes reflects upon a beautiful appliqué quilt she made as a young bride and the mysterious, long-lost antique quilt that inspired it. Empty nesters and occasional rivals Gwen and Diane contemplate family heirlooms and unfinished projects as they look forward to having their children home again for the holidays.

But while the Elm Creek Quilters work tirelessly to make sure the Christmas Boutique happens, it may take a holiday miracle or two to make it the smashing success they want it to be.

Praised for her ability to craft “a wonderful holiday mix of family legacy, reconciliation and shared experiences” (Tucson Citizen), Jennifer Chiaverini once again rings in the festive season with this eagerly awaited addition in her beloved series.

My thoughts:

The Christmas Boutique was written as part of a series – The Elm Creek Quilts series. It is not necessary, however, to have read the previous novels in order to enjoy the story: I had not read the preceding novels and there was not a time in which I was lost or confused. Chiaverini describes her characters well enough for a first reader of her series; and places them in a setting that is very quickly understood.

Women who quilt will enjoy reading the detail that the author adds to the narrative. I am not a quilter myself but some of the techniques described rang a bell in my mind as I have heard my mom speak of them; or I have read the terms as I have browsed her books and magazines.

I enjoyed reading the story that evolved around a group of women who quilt. The group is seen as a reflection of society and a woman’s circle as all types of personalities and problems are described. The story mirrors so much of what happens in life and, as a result, makes the novel totally believable. The book describes the emotions and experiences of each quilter in the group with the author matching up each story to create the whole – much like a quilt.

I enjoyed reading The Christmas Boutique. It was a lighthearted read that would be perfect to read over the holiday period snuggled up warmly under the cover of a blanket or quilt. Definitely a book you can curl up with during the cold winter months.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 86th in my book pledge for 2019)

The Way To Our Heart

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

I say the way to my heart is for the man to cook.

They say if you want to win a man’s affections, cook for him. Daily.

I say if he wants to please me, he should spend the time in the kitchen.

They say women are cooks, men are chefs.

I say I am tired of daily meal planning. Let him have a turn.

Why is it that women are expected to be the ones who shop for groceries, plan the week’s menu, cook the meals. In modern society, women are also working at full-time jobs and bringing in the money. Our second job (raising children, running a home, and cooking) should be shared with the husband/partner.

I say the way to a women’s heart is through her stomach.

I say women are the true chefs, putting together meals on a budget and what is found in the fridge.

I say our reign of the home kitchen is over. We want to pass the sceptre to someone else.

What do you say?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdaychallenge)