Book Review: I’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie

I was happy when I won an Instagram giveaway the ARC of Catherine McKenzie’s latest novel I’ll Never Tell. I enjoyed her previous novel and looked forward to reading this one.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Thriller, Mystery

Blurb:

What happened to Amanda Holmes?

Twenty years ago, she washed up on shore in a rowboat with a gash to the head after an overnight at Camp Macaw. No one was ever charged with a crime.

Now, the MacAllister children are all grown up. After their parents die suddenly, they return to Camp to read the will and decide what to do with the prime real estate it’s sitting on. Ryan, the oldest, wants to sell. Margo, the family’s center, hasn’t made up her mind. Mary has her own horse farm to run, and believes in leaving well-enough alone. Kate and Liddie—the twins—have opposing views. And Sean Booth, the family groundskeeper, just hopes he still has a home when all is said and done. 

But then the will is read and they learn that it’s much more complicated than a simple vote. Until they unravel the mystery of what happened to Amanda, they can’t move forward. Any one of them could have done it, and all of them are hiding key pieces of the puzzle. Will they work together to solve the mystery, or will their suspicions and secrets finally tear the family apart?

My thoughts:

McKenzie’s storytelling did not disappoint. I enjoyed this tale as much as I had enjoyed her previous one, and her words kept me reading and invested right until the end.

The story moves between the past and the present as the reader gets to know the different personalities in the story, as well as what happened in the past. The movement between the time frames is done seamlessly and at no time was I confused. McKenzie paced the information perfectly so that I was neither bored nor disconcerted. Each bit of information that she gave, led me towards understanding the sequence of events as well as my understanding of the characters in the story.

As with all mystery stories, I tried to figure out the solution before reaching the final chapter. I’ll Never Tell is not predictable and therefore had a few surprises. These little twists in the story are believable and added to my enjoyment of the tale.

If you enjoy mystery stories, then you will enjoy this Canadian author’s novel. Unlike the modern psychological thriller, I’ll Never Tell is more a mystery story which the reader attempts to solve while reading.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 74th in my book pledge for 2019)

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Music Monday: Flash Pose

A Week and a half ago, Zumba released a new choreography labelled a ‘hot new choreo’. The song is Flash Pose by Pabllo Vittar. The choreography is easy to follow and the song is simple yet catchy. I was curious, however, to find out more about this singer as I had not heard the name before. And as I do not listen to the radio, I was unsure of whether this song is on the airwaves in Canada.

What I found out is that Pabllo Vittar is a Brazilian drag queen, singer and songwriter. He has released two albums and was nominated for a Grammy in 2018 at the Latin Grammy Awards, being the first nominated drag queen. He has become known as the voice for Brazil’s LGBTQ+ community as he is openly queer even though it is dangerous to be so in Brazil. If you want to know more of his journey, the Wikepedia page makes interesting reading.

The official video for the song Flash Pose embraces who Pabllo Vittar is:

I find the song catchy and I am curious as to whether it is being played on English radio stations.

Have you heard the song Flash Pose?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(Link your Music Monday post to this one so we can share our love of music.)

Book Review: This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

At the Frenzy Presents event held by Harper Collins in Spring, I was lucky enough to receive a copy of This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura. My daughters are excited to read this one and will grab it from my hands as soon as I have reviewed it! 😀

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

My thoughts:

I love seeing the diverse reads that young people have the opportunity to read today – the type of reads that I did not have growing up. This Time Will Be Different is one such read. The story describes the experience of a girl of Japanese descent who is being raised by a single mom. Her experience as a minority in her school is also referred to.

Even though she is a minority, CJ’s experience as such is not focused on in the story. Instead, the writer shares with us the character’s personal growth as she determines what it is that is important to her; and how she will go about fighting for what it is she wants. CJ also learns about the importance of family and friends – lessons that teens of diverse cultures need to learn.

Sugiura shares with us a story that describes the progression of a seventeen year old finding her own voice; and learning about the voice of her family members. This Time Will Be Different is also a tale of romance and of family relationships. The novel is an enjoyable and light read with a message that will touch the heart of its readers.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 73rd in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The One and Only by Emily Griffin

While working in my room sorting my bookshelves and clearing out the drawers, I listened to the audio book The One and Only by Emily Griffin. The discs were ones I had picked up at a library sale and thought it would be a good opportunity to use them.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Format: Audio Book

Blurb:

Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.

But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

Thoughtful, funny, and brilliantly observed, The One & Only is a luminous novel about finding your passion, following your heart, and, most of all, believing in something bigger than yourself . . . the one and only thing that truly makes life worth living.

My thoughts:

I do not usually listen to audio books and it took me a while to get used to listening to the story. In addition to sorting out the characters in my mind, I had to get used to the Texan accent that the story was read in. What I enjoyed about listening to the story was that I could do things while discovering Griffin’s story. I did miss being able to flip back, however, to past pages in order to check on moments of the story.

The story centres around college football – a sport which I have no knowledge of. As a result, some of the moments when the game was discussed went by me. If I had been reading the text, I probably would have put the book down in boredom but, because the story was being read to me, I continued listening while busy with my tasks.

The blurb suggests that Shea, the main character, takes the time to re-evaluate her life after an unexpected tragedy. I was a little disappointed with the lack of growth of the main character. Even though Shea does change some parts of her life, her romantic one ends up where she began. I was a little disappointed with the final choice that she made – though it was a choice that I was easily able to predict.

In addition to there not being too much character growth in the story, Griffin makes no social commentary in her novel. She has the opportunity – twice – but decides instead to create a story without a social message. A story like this was perfect to listen to – but would have been a little tedious to read (in addition to all the football commentary).

The One and Only was an enjoyable story to listen to while working – but it is one that I will not listen to again.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 72nd in my book pledge for 2019)

Currently Reading: A Memoir

This month I am focusing on reading the ARCs that I have on my bookshelf – it is #arcaugust on bookstagram and people are sharing the stories that they have received to read and review. This morning, I decided to pick up a memoir that interests me: A Good Wife by Samra Zafar. I stood in line at the OLA Super Conference early on in the year to receive a signed copy of the galley. The book was available in stores from March 2019.

At seventeen, Samra Zafar had to leave her family behind in Pakistan and move to Canada when she married a stranger. In the years that followed, she suffered her husband’s physical and emotional abuse. Desperate to get out and refusing to give up, she hatched an escape plan for her and her daughters. Somehow she found the strength to not only build a new future, but to walk away from her past, ignoring the pleas of her family and risking cultural isolation by divorcing her husband.

I am a couple of chapters in, and already my eyes have been opened to practices that I had not really accepted still exist.

Would you read this memoir?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Favourite Read of the Month: July 2019

As expected, my summary of last month’s reads is late – just when I think I am on top of my reviews, I spend my time reading 😀 That is the best thing about my Summer Break – my routine is fluid and there is no need for me to stick to a schedule.

Below is the list of book that I read. To read my reviews (if you haven’t already), click on the title and you will be able to visit my post:

  1. Alafair Burke The Better Sister – Thriller, Suspense ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  2. Margaret Stohl Red Vengeance – Young Adult, Marvel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars
  3. Jessie Kwak Crossfire – Science Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  4. Marissa Stapley The Last Resort – Thriller, Suspense ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  5. Alexander McCall Smith The Second Worst Restaurant in France – Contemporary Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  6. Christina Lauren The Unhoneymooners – Contemporary Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  7. Cecelia Ahern P.S.I Love You – Contemporary Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  8. Cecelia Ahern Postscript – Contemporary Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  9. Joe Siccardi My Name is Sam – Christian Fiction ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars
  10. Laura Dockrill My Ideal Boyfriend is a Croissant – Young Adult Contemporary ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  11. Uzma Jalaluddin Ayesha At Last – Contemporary Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  12. Kimberley Belle Dear Wife – Thriller ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

Twelve reads! That is a record for me – but easy to do as I was at home resting. The heat encouraged me to sit in front of the fan and, therefore, encouraged my reading. I re-read a favourite as a buddy read with my friend (Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin) as well as Cecelia Ahern’s beloved title P.S. I Love You. I enjoyed my science fiction read during July, as well as some excellent thrillers. My favourite book, though, would have to be Ahern’s Postscript. The novel is a heartwarming tale about personal growth and helping others accept the loss of life. For me, it was the perfect sequel to a story that I have enjoyed in the past.

I hope you read as many wonderful stories as I did in July. What was your favourite read? Share your choice, or the link to your post, below.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Book of the Month: January 2019

Book of the Month: February 2019

Book of the Month: March 2019

Book of the Month: April 2019

Book of the Month: May 2019

Book of the Month: June

Teaser Tuesday: Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Today I am sharing an extract from Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty. I read this novel about two years ago when it first came out. I enjoy Moriarty’s writing as she scrapes off all the layers of people and their relationships and gets to the gritty part of a person.

In this novel we meet Sam and Clementine who have a wonderful albeit busy life. Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbours, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger-than-life personalities there will be a welcome respite. Two month’s later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

I am sharing an extract in the voice of Sam reflecting on the morning of the barbecue:

“He found himself remembering the morning of the barbecue. It was like remembering someone else, a friend, or someone he’d seen playing the role of a father in a movie. Surely it had been somebody else, not him, strolling about, strutting about his sunlit house, so sure of himself and his place in the world. What happened that morning? ” (p47)

(2016, First Flatiron Books, USA)

Something happens at the barbecue that exposes the underlying faults in the relationships of the characters.

Have you read this novel by Liane Moriarty? What did you think? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Ambrosia’s Teaser Tuesdays at The Purple Booker)

Book Review: Dear Wife by Kimberley Belle

Dear Wife by Kimberley Belle was one of the ARCs that I managed to pick up when I attended the OLA Super Conference earlier this year.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Thriller, Mystery

Blurb:

Beth Murphy is on the run…

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning–one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing…

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.

As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed my first foray into Kimberley Belle’s writing. The story begins with Beth’s point of view (POV) and, right from the start, my attention was captured. As the reader, I was introduced as well to the POV of two other characters: Jeffrey (a husband) and Marcus (the police officer).

The three POVs are intertwined and slowly give the reader a sense of what the story is. Hints are given, assumptions are made, and guesses are turned on their head. For me, this is what a good thriller should be: a novel that keeps you guessing and brings in unexpected twists.

As well as being a thriller, the novel also makes reference to domestic violence and the abuse of the woman in a marriage. Beth depicts a woman who is being abused by her husband, a woman who eventually begins to plan her escape. When reading Beth’s story, I could sense her fear and her desire to escape the physical abuse she was enduring. I sensed her bravery as well because she had the courage to leave.

While reading, I became invested in Beth’s story and I wanted to know the outcome. I enjoyed the subtle twists the author leaves the reader – and the unexpected ending. I will not say too much about the ending, but I will say that I enjoyed it. 🙂

Dear Wife is definitely an enjoyable read for those who enjoy psychological thrillers. The writing is crisp and clear with the perfect pacing for this genre.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 71st in my book pledge for 2019)

First Line Fridays: The Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

“It was raining the day Suki came to the Palace of the Sun, and it was raining the night that she died.”

The Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa (2018, Harper Collins Canada)

The Shadow of the Fox is a magical Japanese Fantasy novel that features Yumeko (half kitsune and half human) and Kage Tatsumi ( a samurai of the Shadow Clan). One is sworn to protect part of an ancient scroll, the other to find it.

I loved this story and look forward to reading the next one in the series.

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.)

Bookstagram: Currently Reading

The best thing about my break is that I can read for many hours a day – especially if a book has captured my imagination and I can’t help turning the pages. My last read was one such read and I completed the book in a day. This morning I started another and, even though it has not hooked me as the previous novel I picked up, I am slowly enjoying it.

The story features Solomon and Ash, two people who have experienced a traumatic event when they were twelve. Ash has lost all memory of the event, and Solomon has retreated further and further into a world of his own creation. The book is written in a two person point of view and interchanges between Solomon’s fantasy world and Ash’s realistic one. So far it is an interesting combination.

What are you currently reading?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018