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

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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.) 

A Childhood Memory: Break Time

The school bell rang. Break time! The sound of young feet thundered down the stairwell,  accompanied by excited voices. Twenty minutes of freedom to be outside. To play. To run. To be young children unencumbered by responsibility and worry. I clambered down the stairs with my friends, leaving the monotony of standard 3 lessons behind me. Thinking back, I cannot remember who our teacher was. What I do remember, however, is the group of girls I spent time with both at school and after school. I remember the games we played, and the songs we used to dance to in the living room of my best friend. I remember the afternoons after school spent at the swimming pool and in the sauna of one of my buddies.

Break time at school was meant to eat lunch and to spend some time outside in the fresh air. To us it was something more. It meant gobbling down our sandwich on the run and then playing our games. We enjoyed playing elastic with the stash I had begged from my mom’s sewing box. But during the winter days, we  ‘built’ houses with the grasses that had been cut and left to dry in our school field. My group of friends, as well as the group of my sister’s, worked on our task with enthusiasm. We did as much as we could during our free time, knowing that  before school we would continue with our building and our play. Placing the grasses into a sort of circular rondawel  helped with our imaginary play.

When the ringing bells pealed across the large fields, the school children attired in dusty uniforms reluctantly moved towards the brick two-story building that housed our classrooms. The gust of wind stirring the cut grasses and the eddies of dust did little to encourage us to return indoors. We would rather have been playing outside under the African sun than to be seated behind desks listening to the teacher drone on about things I have forgotten.

(The prompt made me think back to when I was at school in standard 3 – or grade 5 as it is now known. The primary school that I attended was newly built and had had no developed fields when I was a student there. We played on grounds that were dusty and in the veld that had been set aside for track fields, cricket and soccer fields. In the winter, the tall grasses were cut to dry in an effort to prevent fire. As children, we loved playing with the grasses and using it for imaginative play. By the time I left the school to go onto high school, the parents had raised enough money to lay down proper grass for a track field.)

img_1654What do you remember when you were 10 years old?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to the Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge . This week the prompt is to think back to when you were 10 years old)

Book Review: Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty

I stopped off at the library to return some books and went past the shelf displaying new books. Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty was proudly displayed and I picked it up quickly as it was on my TBR list.

In this story we read about a group of working women who create a Facebook page to connect with other women who have no wish to have children. The connection and solidarity among childless women quickly descends into something more sinister as things begin to slide out of control with devastating consequences as secrets and lies are exposed.

The Facebook group is begun by Poppy and her new friend, Annalise, when she is made aware of a deception by two people whom she loves. The group helps Poppy find her equilibrium and self-worth; and she learns that her life choices are worth celebrating. Then someone begins leaking the group’s private posts and stirring up some nasty backlash, causing her to doubt her choices. Frankie is feeling judged by her disapproving female colleagues and by her own disappointed children. She also knows something sensitive about her boss which she feels guilty holding back. The result is that she is careening toward a breaking point. As things escalate, the women are forced to face some painful truths about themselves, their lives, and what they will do to survive.

This well-written novel realistically describes the relationships between women both at the workplace and at the personal level. It describes how the betrayal of a close friend can cause a woman to falter and do some soul searching. The novel perfectly describes how women divide themselves into ‘us’ and ‘them’, causing friction among themselves. The story accurately reflects the role social media plays in our lives, and how it influences some of our decisions. I enjoyed reading this contemporary drama. It is relevant to today, and reflects the experience and choices of the modern woman.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 41st in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Share Your World: Experience Different Places

What would you name the autobiography of your life?

photo (10)Thinking back on my life so far, I have experienced quite a bit of change: different schools, moving house, new career, marriage. The biggest change, however, has been changing the country in which I live. Not only did I move from a warm southern hemisphere city (Johannesburg) to a colder northern hemisphere one (Toronto); but I also moved from a developing country to a first world country. There was so much that I had to learn and get used to. I would call my autobiography Migrating North. I have written a little about my experience on my move using this title. The posts can be found here if you are interested.

Which do you prefer sweet, salty or buttery? 

Image result for butter popcornMy preference does depend on what I crave at the moment. I prefer my food to be savoury (please don’t add sugar or honey to my carrots!) and enjoy sweetness when I eat dessert. My favourite form of sweetness is eaten in the form of fruit in the morning and chocolate with unsweetened tea after my dinner. When I go to the cinema, I cannot resist the buttery and salty popcorn that they have on offer. And to be honest, the best type of croissant is that one made with real butter!

What’s the finest education?

I find it is important that a person be educated in a skill as it is necessary to help one be successful in society. If a person has a skill, finding a suitable paying job is so much easier. A person’s education, however, cannot only be found at a tertiary institution. Instead it is enhanced with life experience. The best way to do this, I have found, is with travel. Seeing a little of how other people live can only broaden one’s horizons. Living in another country amongst a different culture, not only enhances one’s education, however, but also helps one grow as a person.

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). 

Favourite Read of the Month: June 2018

During the month of June , I managed to read 7 books for this year’s Book Pledge, bringing my total for read books this year to 40 books.

The titles I read in June are listed below. To read my reviews (if you haven’t already), click on the title in the following list:

  1. Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner – women’s fiction ⭐⭐ 2 stars
  2. Sofie & Cecilia by Katherine Ahenburg – women’s fiction, contemporary fiction ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars
  3. Sofia Khan is not Obliged by Ayisha Malik – women’s fiction, humour ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars
  4. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig  – fantasy, science fiction ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars
  5. Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark – thriller ⭐⭐ 2 stars
  6. The Boat People by Sharon Bala – contemporary fiction⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars
  7. Still Water by Amy Stuart – thriller ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars

I took pleasure in reading many books during the month of June even though I was disappointed with two writers that I had previously enjoyed (Jennifer Weiner and Mary Higgins Clark). My choice for the book of the month has to be The Boat People by Sharon Bala. This well written novel touched my emotions in so many ways; and encouraged me to think deeply about the plight of the refugees fleeing their birth country. This story was her debut novel and I will be looking out for another tale written by her.

What was your favourite read in May? Share your choice, or the link to your post, below.

Favourite Read of the Month:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Weekend Coffee Share: A Week Long Heat Wave

Join us for some coffee time!

If we were having coffee, I would greet you with a smile. The heat wave has finally broken and we are feeling a lot cooler. The past week was difficult as it was too hot to do much of anything. My daughters and I spent the first week of the summer break sitting in front of the fans trying to cool down. Sleep was difficult and we woke up every morning drenched with sweat.

I managed to do quite a bit of reading this week and completed three novels – many of which I have been waiting to read for a long time. It was a very pleasant feeling to read guilt-free as I had no deadlines to complete, and no work responsibilities. This upcoming week, however, I will not do as much reading as I prepare for our family vacation to Paris. I will begin packing at the beginning of the week to ensure that we have everything that we need. I like to give myself a bit of time to pack so that I can still shop for the essentials that we need and do not have at home. I will also spend time on our itinerary and fine-tune the details of what I have already planned.

My week has been very low-key – perfect for the start of my school break. I have gone to a few more exercise classes than I normally do. I like being able to go during the day as the classes are not as full and there is more space to move on the floor. Inn addition, I get to experience different instructors and different routines.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you to enjoy your week. May your days be not too hot, nor too cold.

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: Still Water by Amy Stuart

Still Water is Amy Stuart’s second novel. Only once I was halfway through this novel, did I realise that this story follows her debut novel Still Mine. However, I was able to follow the story and enjoy it without having read the previous story even though I did not know the details of previous events.

Clare has been given the task of finding Sally Prouix and her young son who have mysteriously disappeared in the small town of High River. Clare hopes to find them alive, against all odds. But High River is not your typical town. It is a place where women run to – women who want to escape their pasts. They run to Helen Haines, a matriarch who offers them a safe haven and anonymity. Pretending to be Sally’s long-lost friend, Clare turns up and starts asking questions. Nothing prepares her for the swirl of deception and the depth of the lies that she encounters.

In a town where secrets are crucial to survival, everyone is hiding something. Detectives Sommers and Rouke have an ulterior motive beyond solving the case. Malcolm Boon, the man who hired Clare, knows more about her than he reveals. Helen is concealing a tragic family history of her own. The pace of the novel begins slowly but steadily as Clare begins to unravel the lies that each person has told. As she slowly uncovers the truth of what has happened, she comes to a realisation about her own life and choices. I enjoyed seeing the growth in this character as her perception of herself and of Malcolm Boon changes.

I enjoyed reading this story, even though it was a little slow to begin with. There were times when I wished I had read the previous novel so that I could know the details of Clare’s past. My lack of knowledge, however, did not prevent me from enjoying this tale. As I completed the book, I had a sense that Clare’s story is not yet over – I am sure that there will be a third book in this series. If you enjoy mystery novels, this story is the one for you.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 40th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Grateful for Husband’s Cooking

As you know, my husband was away for a month. As a result, I was the one to do all the cooking – every day. On Friday my husband came back home and this weekend he took the opportunity to cook. As you can imagine, I was pleased to take a break from the kitchen. For dinner, he cooked a few dishes of stir-fried vegetables (one which was an experiment as he had not cooked it before) which we then ate with rice. As we feasted on his meal, we enjoyed the flavours he had created. As my daughter said, we had missed eating his vegetable dishes with rice.

This week I am grateful for my husband’s return home. I am also grateful that he is still willing to take a turn at cooking over the weekend in order to give me a break.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week? Share your comments or the link to your post below.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018