Book Review: Jane Austen, A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef

I enjoy reading Jane Austen’s novels and have read them more than once. When I came across Jane Austen, A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef, I was extremely interested to read the book. The blurb promises an insightful and compelling biography that would be fun to read.

The pages within the book were disappointing though. A few tidbits of Austen’s life were given, but these were very brief. The description written of her life was dry and factual (and not at all fun to read). Many of the pages described the story lines of the books she had written – books that I  had already read and knew. I would have preferred a description of a day in her life, as well as a more detailed discussion of the troubles she would have had publishing in that era as a woman. Even though the book outlined in brief the life of Jane Austen, I was disappointed as I had wished for more detail.

I give this novel ⭐⭐2 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 47th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

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Favourite Read of the Month: July 2018

During the month of July , I managed to read 6 books for this year’s Book Pledge, bringing my total for read books this year to 46 books. Even though I was on Summer break from school, my family and I spent 2 weeks in Paris. Sightseeing and family time did not give me much time to read. I did not mind, though, as I knew I could spend days reading once I got back home.

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

  1. Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty – contemporary women’s fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  2. Liar by K.L.Slater – psychological thriller ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  3. The Break by Marian Keyes – women’s fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  4. Things are Good Now by Djamila Ibrahim – collection of short stories ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  5. The Waters and the Wild by Desales Harrison – literary fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars
  6. Killer City by Seumas Gallacher – a thriller ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

During July there were a few books that I enjoyed as well as a few that disappointed me. My favourite novel would have to be The Break by Marion Keyes. The experience of the main character resonated as there are a number of women who have had to experience a break in their relationship. Keyes writes her story with humour as well as empathy. This novel is one that I will certainly re-read in the future.

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

Favourite Read of the Month:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Book Review: Killer City by Seumas Gallacher

I had read the three previous novels in the Jack Calder series by Seumas Gallacher so I was looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Killer City.

The story line begins with the discovery of a woman’s mutilated torso in a dumpster in the north of England. Jack Calder, a former SAS officer, propses to help an old friend’s son who has been been framed for the murder. He leads  his colleagues at their specialist security firm, International Security Partners, from Manchester and London across Europe to Lithuania in order to hunt down those responsible for the murder.

The story is fast-paced and what a reader would expect from an action-packed story. I did not, however, enjoy this story as much as I did the previous ones. Instead I wished for more than a description of mayhem. As this is the fourth novel centred around a same character, I wished to learn a little more about Jack Calder, the person. Having said that, the novel is perfect for a quick read – and would not have to be read in order of the series to be enjoyed.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 46th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: The Waters and The Wild by Desales Harrison

I received the ARC for The Waters and the Wild by DeSales Harrison when I attended the 2018 OLA Super Conference in February. The cover of the proof attracted me and the story intrigued me so I picked it up to take home to read.

The novel is a story about a psychoanalyst who is haunted by a past crime and a past lover. Daniel Abend is a single parent who lives and works in New York City. He has a successful practice, lives a comfortable life, has a beautiful daughter, and follows an untroubled routine. When one of his young patients commits suicide, it is a tragedy that can be easily explained by her depression and drug addiction. Shortly afterwards, however, Daniel receives a note that makes him question his patient’s death. Then his daughter abruptly disappears. A series of letters from an unknown sender ensnares Daniel in a desperate search for his daughter and the truth – a search that goes back decades into his past to the time when he was a young man living in Paris.

The story promises mystery, passion, betrayal, and redemption. It is, however, not a fast-paced psychological thriller. Instead it moves slowly as bit by bit the reader unearths the past life and actions of Daniel Abend. The story is beautifully written and is more a literary novel than one that can be completed in a day. The Waters and the Wild is a book that takes time to read but is one that you would wish to finish as you uncover surprise after surprise in the character’s life. This is not a novel for those who wish for a quick and easy read.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 45th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: Things Are Good Now by Djamila Ibrahim

I met Djamila Ibrahim at the 2018 OLA Super Conference when she signed a copy of her book for me. She told us that her book is a collection of stories told to her by the immigrants to Canada that she had met in her line of work. As a person who was not born in Canada, I was interested to read the stories of others who had crossed the seas to experience life in another country.

Things Are Good Now is a collection of short stories based on the experiences of men, women and children who find themselves in a country far-removed from the experience of their homeland. Their Canadian experience is referred to in their story but the book focuses on snapshots of the experience these people had in the North African countries of their birth.

I found the stories interesting – some more interesting than others. Some of the experiences of being in a strange country resonated with me as I had experienced those feelings myself. What I hadn’t experienced was the refugee experience which so many of the stories subtly refer to. Ibrahim paints a picture for us of a life and of decisions made with no judgement; a picture which helps the reader to understand the choices that a person may make. I enjoyed reading this collection, and it is one that I will pass onto my children to read.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐️⭐ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 44th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: The Break by Marian Keyes

I finally picked up my copy of The Break by Marion Keyes. I had been saving the read for a time when I would be able to read uninterrupted – and the second week of my Summer Break was a perfect time for it.

What would you do if your spouse decided to take a break from your marriage? Amy’s husband, Hugh, tells her just that. He says he is not leaving her, but that he needs six months off from the marriage and all the responsibility that comes with it. While he has gone to South East Asia, Amy is left behind to shoulder the responsibility of her family – and to decide what she wants to do during the break from her marriage.

Amy’s story is told with humour – but also with insight. As a reader, I explored Amy’s feelings, her inhibitions and her indecision. And, while doing so, what I read resonated with me. Some of her frustrations with family, for example, have been some of my frustrations. Her sense of being overwhelmed by all that is expected of her, is an experience that so many women in our society experience today. Amy’s story reflects not only some of my personal experience, but also the experience of women who wait on the sidelines while their husband experiences a mid-life crisis. It is the reflection of a woman’s experience that makes this story by Marian Keyes relevant to her readers.

I enjoyed reading this novel and would recommend it to any person who enjoys reading stories about the woman’s experience. This is a story that I will certainly reread.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐️⭐ 5 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 43rd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

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)

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)

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 June? Share your choice, or the link to your post, below.

Favourite Read of the Month:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

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)