Music Monday: Bailame

Now that I have completed (and passed) my practical exam to be a group fitness instructor, I can learn some new songs to dance to. I have had the song Bailame Ray El Ingeniero on my list for a while and have started practicing the choreography. The song is catchy and has been stuck in my head for the last few days.

If you look at the dancers in the background, you will get an inkling of the dance I will do in the Zumba class. I am hoping that by Tuesday I will be confident enough in the choreography to dance this with my colleagues. I am sure they will love it too!

Do you like this song?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

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Weekend Coffee Share: Zumba Routine and a Book Launch

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it is a lovely day outside today. The sun is shining, the air is warm, and the feel of spring is in the air. Yesterday it was a bit windy and a little overcast, but I still enjoyed my afternoon walk (luckily the rain held off).

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I tried a new Zumba class yesterday afternoon. I decided to extend the exercise and walk instead of take the bus (hence my enjoyment of the mild day). The class was fun and I enjoyed the vibe in the room. I will definitely attend her classes more often! It was also fun to see familiar faces in the room as so many people were there who go the class I attend on Mondays.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have started attending the Monday Zumba classes again now that my practical exam is over. No longer do I have to frantically practise choreography to make sure I make no mistakes during the assessment. Inn addition, my practice session with my colleagues this week was more relaxed and, as such, I made less mistakes. Something is to be said to being examined in an authentic environment!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Tuesday last week, I met up with a dear friend of mine and we went to the book launch of a local author. I loved that my friend and I took the opportunity to meet and to do something book-related. We both love reading and immersing ourselves in the stories created by others, and this event was a treat. It was the first my friend had attended and I am pleased to say that it will not be the last! If you want to read more on the event, head on over to my blog post for more detail.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the student who won the auction for the fund-raiser at our school was Teacher of the Day on Friday. He was so excited to take on the task and loved being able to choose what the class was to do. The first thing he did was say no “cahier jaune” (which is the French writing/grammar practice page that they do every morning as they enter the room). He chose to watch some Raptor’s highlights (whose victory was celebrated at the school), and to do Just Dance (with him choosing his favourite songs to dance to). Outdoor play was included in the day, as well as playing with the lego and blocks. Another highlight was him and his friend going out for lunch with me. Definitely enjoyable to hear the boys chatter and enjoy their time out with me. He was serious about his job and helped children as they completed the previous days tasks; and insisted on helping me with some marking. 🙂

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my daughters’ and I are now going to finish up with our plans for Father’s Day. If you are a Dad celebrating this day with your family, enjoy it – I hope you are showered with love. It is a day on which I think of my own Dad who is, unfortunately, no longer of this earth. But I smile when thinking of him as I imagine him here with me.

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)

Grateful for Mid-Week Get Together

This week I got together with a friend of mine who lives quite a distance from me and who was prepared to drive down to the city to attend a bookish event with me. I had told her about my experiences and she was keen to join me. On Wednesday, the book launch of debut author Roselle Lim, writer of Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, became the reason we chose to meet up and spend an evening away from home.

The event was held at an independent bookstore that I had never before visited, so I was curious to see the venue. I loved the sign placed outside the store front and felt welcomed before I had even entered the shop.

A number of people had already arrived and soon the bookstore was buzzing with even more patrons. Roselle Lim was nervous, as any debut writer would be, but she smiled graciously as she welcomed those who were there to support her.

She read an extract from her novel and I wish she could have spoken a bit about her writing experience and the inspiration for her story. First time nerves maybe?

Anyway, my friend and I enjoyed the outing together. We sipped a glass of wine, chatted a little, and enjoyed the ambience of the environment. This week I am grateful for the excuse of a book event to meet up with my close friend. Together we will now read the novel we had signed by the author – which will lead to a number of texts flying between us, I am sure.

What are you grateful for this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is part of my weekly gratitude reflection. You are welcome to join in and share your post in the comments.)

When I Was Young …

PHOTO PROMPT © Valerie J. Barrett

Visiting the museum with Gerald was always such a risk. So far, though, the day had been all that she had wanted and planned. The group had seen some beautiful paintings; the children had been interested in the artifacts unearthed by archaeologists in central Europe; lunch had been surprisingly tasty; and no-one had wanted to cut the visit short due to boredom. They all moved down to the basement to look at the exhibit labelled “Though the Ages”. In front of the first exhibit, she held her breath. Predictably Gerald began, “When I was young …” Everyone groaned!

© 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.)

Favourite Read of the Month: May 2019

I cannot believe how many books I read during May – thirteen! I did spend the long weekend sick and I had no interest in watching TV, so I guess that accounts for it.

The first books I read were the ones I had grabbed from the library. To read my reviews (if you haven’t already), click on the title in the following list:

  1. Phaedra Patrick The Library of Lost and Found – Contemporary Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  2. Jessica Barry Freefall – Thriller ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars
  3. Kathy Wang Family Trust – Contemporary Women’s Fiction ⭐️ 1 star

The rest of the books I read in May were either novels I had bought or ARCs I had received from Harper Collins Canada.

  1. Maya Motayne Nocturna – YA Fantasy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  2. Dev Sonali Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavours – Romance ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  3. Kaira Rouda The Favourite Daughter – Thriller ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars
  4. Erin Davis Mourning Has Broken – Memoir ⭐️ 1 star
  5. Farah Heron The Chai Factor – Romance ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  6. Amy Lloyd One More Lie – Thriller ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars
  7. Sophie Kinsella I Owe You One – Romance ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  8. Jessie Kwak Double Edged – Science Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  9. Anouska Knight Since You’ve Been Gone – Romance ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars
  10. Kirsty Manning The Song of the Jade Lily – Historical Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

I read so many good books during May (with a couple of disappointing ones). My favourites were The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning, The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick, and Dev Sonali’s Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavours. Even though I loved the historical fiction and contemporary novel, my choice for the title Book of the Month has to go to Sonali’s Pride and Prejudice retelling. She did justice to Austen’s story and added her own spin to it. This is definitely a story I will re-read in the future.

I hope you read as many wonderful stories as I did in May. 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

Staff Appreciation Lunch

Last week Wednesday, the parent council at our school organised the annual staff appreciation lunch. Each year we gather in the library at lunch time and eat the hot lunch that the parents have organised for us. The food is always delicious, and the chats at each table enjoyable. It is not often that the staff as a whole get together to eat. The atmosphere was relaxed in spite of the work waiting for us in the classrooms.

The lunch was definitely something to smile about last week. 🙂

What caused you to smile last week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

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

Weekend Coffee Share: Better Late Than Never

If we were having coffee, I would apologise for meeting up with you so late. My weekend routine was thrown off a little so I did not get to blog like I usually do on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the week was very busy. I completed all the assessments of my students. They got into the habit of working quietly while I worked with each person at a time. We are now almost done all the activities that I have planned for the year and so the pressure on me has eased a little. The last few days have been beautiful – warm and sunny. Today, though, I see it has reverted back to being dull and grey. I hope it doesn’t last long as days of indoor recess are not fun!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last week we had the staff appreciation lunch at our school. For this lunch, parents organise a hot meal for us to thank us for all the hard work that we do for their children during the year. I love it – not only the meal itself but that we take a short time out and eat lunch together. The parents also make the setting in the library as beautiful as they can. The flowers always look so pretty.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Friday was a PA day during which I wrote the report cards. I had already done some work on them and I planned to sit in my chair until I got them done. I arrived at school at 8am and got them done by 1:30pm. It is amazing how much work you can do with a little determination and no distractions. I came home exhausted and spent the rest of the afternoon reading.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my practical exam to be a group fitness instructor was on Saturday afternoon. I was nervous even though I had being practicing for hours over the last few months. All my friends made it to the exam and I went in with their encouragement at my side. It was good to see their well-known faces while I was teaching them and their support helped me complete the session. I was nervous for the results as I knew I had made some mistakes (practical exams are not my forte). After my session, the instructor made some comments that made me worried that I had not passed.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I got an email Saturday evening telling me that I had passed! I could not believe it! Her comments and suggestions for improvement are valid and I have something to work on in order to improve. Now I have to decide what to do with this certification. Going through the process has been quite a learning curve for me and I am glad I did it.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I now need to get ready for work. Enjoy your day and let’s have coffee next week.

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)

First Line Fridays: I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

“The trouble with me is, I can’t let things go. They bug me. I see problems and I want to fix them, right here, right now. My nickname isn’t Fixie for nothing”

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella (2019, Penguin Random House Canada)

The opening lines of Kinsella’s latest novel introduces us to Fixie, the main character. Throughout the novel we read how she continuously works to fix things and how she allows opportunities to pass her by because of this. And yet she has a chance to grow and to learn when to let things be. I enjoyed Kinsella’s latest rom-com and if you enjoy reading this genre, you will too. If you want to know more, you can read my review here.

What do you think of the introduction to the main character? Are you curious about her?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

Book Review: The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning

I was in the mood for a little history so I picked up the Advanced Reading Copy of The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning that had been sent to me by Harper Collins Canada.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb:

In 2016, fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm, when her grandfather is dying. With only weeks left together, her grandparents begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century. 

In 1939, two young girls meet in Shanghai, the ‘Paris of the East’: beautiful local Li and Viennese refugee Romy form a fierce friendship. But the deepening shadows of World War Two fall over the women as Li and Romy slip between the city’s glamorous French Concession and the desperate Shanghai Ghetto. Eventually, they are forced separate ways as Romy doubts Li’s loyalties.

After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents’ past. As she peels back the layers of their hidden lives, she begins to question everything she knows about her family – and herself. 

A compelling and gorgeously told tale of female friendship, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage to shape us all.

My thoughts:

Historical fiction is a genre that I enjoy and my interest in the history of China was captured many years ago. Manning’s novel reflects a part of Chinese history that is unknown to me so I was interested in reading about something new.

The something new was what interested me in this novel was the following: Jewish refugees in China; the different quarters in Shanghai showing an interesting snapshot into life at that time; the domination and oppression of the Japanese during this period in China. My husband (who is of Chinese descent) speaks often about the oppression of the Japanese over the Chinese. It was in this novel that I came across a piece of that history.

The modern story that is woven within the fabric of the history is written with compassion and understanding. Alexandra is determined to find out the past of her grandparents as she believes it will make her whole. With each uncovering of her family’s history, however, not only does she find out about the past and find out who her true parents were, but she also discovers a bit about who she is as a person. I enjoyed reading that both women in the two storylines described (Romy and Alexandra) are people that grow from their experience. Both these women are strong women even though their life experience is different.

My favourite character in this novel is Romy. From a young age at the start of the Second World War in Europe, she had to grow up fast. In her lifetime she adapted to two countries, learning new languages and customs. In addition, she learned quickly to behave as an adult even though she was still a child. Romy experiences so much pain and heartache in her life; yet she never loses her faith in others and her courage to move forward.

The Song of the Jade Lily is a perfect example of what historical fiction should be. A snippet of history is made available to us through a well-written story that includes both life experiences and some romance. I loved reading this book and if you are a fan of historical fiction, then you will too.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 49th in my book pledge for 2019)

A Missed Opportunity

Yesterday I was manning the desk at the Kindergarten Orientation table and registering parents and their children as they came in. Between moments while waiting for people to arrive, I realised that the decorations on the table would make a perfect backdrop to some photos showcasing my books.

I could not help but smile. Since starting my bookstagram account on Instagram, I am often thinking of different ways to present the books I read.

Do you sometimes see the perfect photo background?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

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