First Line Fridays: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

I type, “Should I see a therapist?”

A popular Google search, it seems. There’s a lot of information on the topic. Pages and pages of tests you can take to help you decide if therapy is right for you. If so, what kind of therapy? Psychiatrist versus psychologist? What’s your major disorder? There’s so much. I could do this all night. Once Ian leaves, maybe I will.”

Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward (2018, Harper Collins Publishers)

Beautiful Bad is a suspenseful novel which will give you a few surprises. If you are interested to learn more, you can read my review here.

Do the first lines capture your attention?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

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Book Review: The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli

I was in the mood for reading a romance and while browsing the tables at my local book store, I came across The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli. The story interested me as it centres around a culture so different to mine. The bonus is that the novel was written by a Canadian.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

One devoted modern girl + a meddlesome, traditional grandmother = a heartwarming multicultural romantic comedy about finding love where you least expect it.

Raina Anand may have finally given in to family pressure and agreed to let her grandmother play matchmaker, but that doesn’t mean she has to like it–or that she has to play by the rules. Nani always took Raina’s side when she tried to push past the traditional expectations of their tight-knit Indian-immigrant community, but now she’s ambushing Raina with a list of suitable bachelors. Is it too much to ask for a little space? Besides, what Nani doesn’t know won’t hurt her…

As Raina’s life spirals into a parade of Nani-approved bachelors and disastrous blind dates, she must find a way out of this modern-day arranged-marriage trap without shattering her beloved grandmother’s dreams.

My thoughts:

This book was so interesting to read because it is set within a culture so different to mine. I grew up knowing that the choice of my life-partner would be mine – and yet in this book I read of a community that encourages matchmaking and pseudo arranged marriages. The dates that Raina, the protagonist, goes on made me smile – as did her response. The novel definitely embraces the humour of the situation that she finds herself in. It was interesting to see how she negotiated her way around the matchmaking practices of her grandmother.

The Matchmaker’s List is not just a ‘fluffy’ read. Instead it comments on matchmaking and why it may, or may not be, suitable for a modern woman. It also suggests that the desire to match-make comes from a place of love. We see a strong relationship between Raina and her grandmother – and soon realise why she would accept to go on the dates her beloved Nani has organised.

During the novel, the reader sees a growth in the main protagonist as she comes to understand what it is that she wants in a relationship – and what type of man with whom she would like to spend the rest of her life. It is the personal growth of Raina that makes this novel more than just a forgettable story. Her struggles and her realisations are so similar to many young women dating and falling in love in the modern world. In addition, her experience is one that is not seen often in mainstream literature and film.

Lalli has written a wonderful romantic comedy that embraces the experience of a modern woman living in a modern city (Toronto) who embraces her culture. I enjoyed reading this romantic comedy and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading romance.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 28th in my book pledge for 2019)

A New Ice Age

The streets were deathly quiet as people fearfully hid in their homes. The prolonged cold snap kept them huddled under blankets as power stations struggled to warm homes. The city did not know how to cope with the snow and had rigged makeshift ploughs to clear the empty streets. Another onslaught of precipitation was forecast and the government was gearing up for the predicted chaos that would ensue. Warning signs of Earth’s response to the misuse of its natural resources had been evident, but ignored. The Earth chose to re-balance itself with another Ice Age. It was finally beginning.

© 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.)

Top 5 Books I Predict Will Be 5 Stars!

Sometimes you know you are going to love a book – or hope you do – based on the storyline and the reviews you have read. At times it is a go-to author that never disappoints you. Currently I have 5 books on my TBR pile that I predict will be 5 star reads. Why haven’t I read them yet? I am waiting for the time when I can read uninterrupted and the best time for that will be during my summer break.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

I want to read this story for so many reasons: the inclusion of China’s rich culture, the promise of a strong female protagonist, the beautiful artwork on the cover of the novel. There has been a lot of positivism surrounding this novel on social media – so much so that the hard copy of the book was sold out online on the first day in the US. Unbelievable, isn’t it? I was happy that I had pre-ordered my copy. 🙂

The Cerulean by Amy Ewing

This fantasy novel caught my attention the first time I heard of it: the unusual title intrigued me and the story of a young woman finding the strength within herself captured my interest. This novel is the first of a duology and I am tempted to wait for the second before I delve into this one.

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

A fight between siblings and a girl who seeks her own way. This novel is yet another fantasy that I read a lot about on social media. The cover of the novel is also arresting and I am hoping that the story within it is as well.

Enchantee by Gita Trelease

An historical novel about Paris? I am in! I saw a lot of buzz about this story on social media as well but, to be honest, I am always drawn to stories of Paris – such a beautiful city rich with history. I have learned a bit about the time period of this tale and I look forward to seeing Trelease’s input on it.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

This novel is a huge one and quite heavy – definitely a book to read at home! I have only read good things about the story and, as a reader of fantasy fiction, I look forward to reading a tale with an adult slant on it. Filled with dragons and chaos, this novel promises to be enthralling.

I am hoping that these novels do not disappoint. Only time will tell.

Which book on your TBR pile do you predict will be a 5 star read?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Bionic Book Worm and the Top 5 Tuesday challenge. This week we are listing the top 5 books you predict will be 5 star reads).

A Poem by Julie McIsaac

I was fortunate to win a giveaway for National Poetry Month held by Wolsak & Wynn Publishers. I chose to receive the poetry collection written by Julie McIsaac.

Many of the pieces encourage me to think – about what has been written, and about how the poem reflects my own experience. I share one of the pieces with you:

“They took the bus downtown and when they arrived they sat next to a great fountain. They threw pennies in and made wishes. Then they clipped their hair and planted it in the dirty weeds that sprouted through the concrete next to where the fountain was built. They made more wishes. They thought future. She said nothing. (p14, Wolsak & Wynn, 2018)

The pieces in this collection are definitely raw and to the point. I still have many to read and know that they will not be easy reading.

What do you think of the extract I shared?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

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

Book Review: All The Wrong Places by Joy Fielding

I have read Joy Fielding’s novels in the past and looked forward to reading this one. In addition, the synopsis sounded relevant as so many people try online dating.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Blurb:

A husband’s death, a difficult divorce, a brutal break-up, dissatisfaction with a boring relationship: for various reasons, four women turn to online dating, hoping to right-swipe the way to love and happiness.

Paige and Heather are cousins, locked in a lifelong rivalry that recently culminated in Heather taking Paige’s boyfriend for herself, although now Heather isn’t quite sure she wants him. Paige’s mother, Joan, is trying to get back on her feet after the death of the love of her life two years ago. And Paige’s longtime friend, Chloe, is considering giving her unfaithful husband a taste of his own medicine.

Together, the women are navigating the choppy waters of online dating, until one of them unwittingly makes a date with a killer, starting the clock on a race to save her life.

New York Times bestselling author Joy Fielding has written a complex, electrifying thriller about friendship, jealousy, and passion–a deadly combination. 

My thoughts:

Online dating is now a normal part of modern dating and is often suggested to be a safe way to meet people – especially if certain rules are followed: text before meeting, let family and friends know where you will be, meet in a public place. And yet a serial killer is still able to kill the women he ‘dates’. He is still able to convince these women that he is someone to be trusted.

Even though the killer does feature in the novel, All The Wrong Places is much more than a murder story. What we read about is the rapport between four women: their support structure, their jealousies, their insecurities. I enjoyed the exploration of their relationships – relationships that I see mirrored in so many of what I have observed and experienced in my own life.

Fielding skillfully moves the reader between the experience of the four women, while inserting in the story the intentions of a killer. She scatters hints in the dialogue, suggesting who may be the next victim. I became engrossed in the tale, was surprised at some twists, and turned the pages quickly to see who would survive. I loved this novel for the fast-paced story within its pages and would recommend it to any reader who enjoys thrillers.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 27th in my book pledge for 2019)

Music Monday: Rico Cha Cha Cha

As you know, I am currently working on learning choreography for my practice exam to be a Group Fitness Instructor – in particular, a Zumba instructor. One of the reasons I love Zumba is because of the Latin dancing influence. The music reminds me of the time when I used to dance Latin moves: the cha cha cha, the rhumba, the jive, the samba. I love the music; I love the rhythms; and I love the movements.

Now that I am building my own playlist and class atmosphere, I am influenced by the love of my past. My preference is to choose music with a Latin feel and the choreography I prefer embraces the merangue, the salsa, the cumbia. I do include reggaeton – but not as much as in the Zumba classes that I attend. The latest song I am learning has steps for a cha cha cha. The song is authentic and so are the movements of the following Zumba crew:

I know of a number of people who will enjoy this and I look forward to sharing it with them.

Do you enjoy dancing to the cha cha cha?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Weekend Coffee Share: An Aching Body

If we were having coffee, I would welcome you out of the rain. After a wonderful spring day yesterday, our skies this morning are grey and rain is falling. It is the perfect day to curl up with a hot beverage indoors and chat. If we were not having coffee, I would definitely be reading or watching Netflix.

Speaking of Netflix, last night I watched The Perfect Date starring
Noah Centineo – the make lead in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. The film is centred around a high school student who creates an app to offer his services as a fake date to make money for college. He develops feelings for a girl and his plan gets complicated. This film is definitely a lighthearted story that makes you smile. It was perfect viewing for a Saturday evening.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my muscles are aching from the practice I am doing for my practical exam. In the upcoming week, I am going to have to change my schedule a little to give my body some rest. I have been practicing with some of my colleagues and I think on Friday afternoon we got a little too enthusiastic 😀

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Sundays I try to prepare some of my posts in advance. One of these posts was published on Friday afternoon and, for some reason, did not receive as many views as I normally receive. Do you have any suggestions as to why this may have happened? The post is a book review on my favourite book for March – and is written by a fantastic author who has created a well-written story that I believe is stellar. Head on over to the post here to give it some love – I would appreciate it.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Wednesday the internet at work was on the blitz. Result? I could not do any of my work! It was extremely frustrating and it highlighted how much we depend on technology to do things that before were done with paper and pencil. The funny thing is that the next day when I could access my email, the technology department of the school board had sent an email telling us that the internet had been interrupted. I don’t know how they expected us to access this email with no connection!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this afternoon I will spend doing some corrections of my students’ work and then I will take out my crochet. The apartment is feeling a little cold and the afghan I am working on will warm my legs. What will you spend your afternoon doing? Have a wonderful week and speak to you next weekend.

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)

Favourite Read of the Month: March 2019

I have been enjoying my books which is why I am a little behind on my Book Of The Month post. I am also finding it a little difficult to sit behind my computer when I get home – all I want to do is relax. It is definitely that time of year when I feel tired and wish only to rest and recuperate.

During During March, I read 9 books towards my book pledge for 2019 which brings my total to 26 books.

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

  1. Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward – Thriller ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars
  2. Be My Love by Kit Pearson – Middle grade fiction ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars
  3. Operatic by Kyo Maclear – Middle Grade fiction, Young Adult, Graphic Novels ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars
  4. Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – Middle Grade fiction, Fantasy ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars
  5. A Justified Murder by Jude Deveraux – Mystery, Romance, Contemporary ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars
  6. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – Romance ⭐⭐⭐⭐4 stars
  7. Remade by Danielle Novotny  – YA Fantasy, Science-Fiction ⭐⭐ 2 stars
  8. The Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds – YA Contemporary ⭐⭐ 2 stars
  9. The Rebel Mages by Laurie Forest – YA Fantasy ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars

There were a number of books that I enjoyed during March – as well as two that were disappointing reads. However my favourite was definitely The Rebel Mages by Laurie Forest. Her story has captured my attention and the collection of novellas did not disappoint me.

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

A Show of Support

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Katie wanted to show her support but hesitated to step into the church to watch her sister marry a man she loathed. From the beginning, he’d aimed to win Amelia – like a prize at a fair. Now papa depended on him. And mama? His charming ways had pleased her and words spoken against him brought down her wrath. Katie feared for her wraith-like sister whose shining light had already begun to flicker and would certainly dim under his possession. She forced herself to enter the building. She needed to be there when Brandon grew bored and discarded her loved ones.

© 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.)