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

A Word Collector

I was so happy when I saw that The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds had been translated in French which meant that I could use it in my classroom. I love the story about a little boy who enjoys words so much that he collects them. Eventually he makes sentences with his collection; and when his collection gets too big, he shares the words with everyone.

This week I read the story to my grade 1 and 2 students and afterwards I opened a centre at which they browsed through some books and found words to record in a notebook. My plan is that at the end of every week, my students will take the notebook home in order to practice reading and writing the words they have collected.

The children love the activity – especially as they are able to write using colorful gel pens. This is one task that they will all complete with joy!

This week I am grateful for authors and illustrators who create stories that inspire my lessons and centre tasks. It always makes me smile to see the children enjoying both the stories and the activities.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post is part of my Gratitude Challenge and is linked to Trent’s Weekly Smile, a challenge which focuses on sharing all things positive.)

Book Review: 25 Days ‘Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander

I did not think it was too early for Christmas stories when I picked up 25 Days ‘Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander. I love stories that are Christmas themed and I thought this book would be a perfect addition to the Christmas themed movies I have been watching on Netflix.

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction, Holiday

Blurb:

Kate Potter used to love Christmas. A few years ago, she would have been wrapping her presents in September and baking mince pies on Halloween, counting down the days and hours to Christmas. But that was before Kate’s husband left for the army and never came home. Now she can hardly stand December at all.

Kate can’t deny she’s lonely, yet she doesn’t think she’s ready for romance. She knows that her son, Jack, needs a Christmas to remember—just like Kate needs a miracle to help her finally move forward with her life. So she’s decided if there isn’t a miracle on its way, she’ll just have to make her own.

As Kate’s advent countdown to the best Christmas ever begins, she soon realizes that even with the best laid plans, you can’t plan for the unexpected. For when the path of the loneliest woman in town crosses with that of the loneliest man, these two destined hearts might find a way to save the holiday for both of them.

My thoughts:

I enjoy reading Christmas stories and this one fit the bill perfectly! The story follows the structure of an advent calendar and depicts the changes in Kate’s life – some of them initiated by her, and some of them not. As the days leading towards Christmas pass by, the reader sees the changes in Kate as well as the struggles she experiences.

Kate is a person who is slowly coming out of the fog of grief that has surrounded her since her husband’s death. Moving forward with her life has been hampered by the day to day struggle of keeping herself and her son afloat. One cannot help but admire what she has done to keep going both emotionally and financially. Her frustrations are perfectly described and I often felt those frustrations for her. As a woman and as a mother, I sympathised with Kate’s experience and wished that her circumstances would change.

The romance between Kate and her beau is a slow one. He is not seen as the knight who comes rescue her – though he does push her into the right direction. Instead, he is seen as someone who supports her, and who accepts her and Jack for what they are. I love how Kate manages to come to her own conclusions – and that Daniel helps her once she has made her own decisions.

The novel 25 Days ‘Til Christmas is a perfect story to read this time of year and is a heartwarming one that will stay with you over the Holiday period. The bonus? It is the ideal novel to read while cuddled under an afghan with a hot cup of tea.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 106th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Dark Water by Robert Bryndza

I was fortunate to receive a copy of Dark Water by Robert Bryndza as part of a Twitter giveaway. After reading a number of romance novels, I felt it was time to dip into something a little more serious.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective

Blurb:

Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.

The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago.

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on.

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone is keeping secrets. Someone who doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.

My thoughts:

I love reading detective stories and Erika Foster is one detective I have not come across before. Dark Water is the third book in the series but, in my experience, it did not matter that I had not read the previous stories.

The content of the murder investigation may be upsetting to some as it is based on the murder of a child. The fact that a child was murdered, however, pushes the detective even more to solve the case. The detective of the cold case is a woman who has gone through some personal trouble herself; and is a person who takes no nonsense. Erika Foster is a woman who cannot be bothered with the niceties; and who has made her job as a police officer her life. I enjoy watching the gritty detective shows produced by BBC, and this novel was written in that manner.

Dark Water is a well written novel that I could not put down. Hints to solve the mystery are peppered throughout the story – and yet, as the reader, I was still a little surprised by the outcome because I did not fully solve the case. I like that the ending was a little unexpected as the fact that I could not solve the mystery kept me engaged in the story.

Because the story is part of a series, the characterization of Erika Foster is detailed. As I had not read the previous two novels, I did not know the details of her backstory – though it was hinted at through dialogue among the characters. Not knowing the details, however, did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. Instead, I grew to like the salty detective and have decided I would like to read the other books in the series.

This Erika Foster novel is a must read if you enjoy detective stories – especially those set in England. Dark Water is not a twisty psychological thriller and is instead one of those mystery stories that slowly reveals the outcome to a satisfying end.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 105th in my book pledge for 2019)