Book Review: No Judgements by Meg Cabot

I decided to continue reading my library stack and picked up No Judgements by Meg Cabot. I looked forward to reading this one as in the past I have enjoyed Meg Cabot’s novels.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Blurb:

When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island—as well as its connection to the mainland—twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . at first. She’s already escaped one storm—her emotionally abusive ex—so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake.

But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realizes how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it’s up to her to save as many of Little Bridge’s cats and dogs as she can . . . but to do so, she’s going to need help—help she has no choice but to accept from her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café’s most notorious heartbreaker.

But when Bree starts falling for Drew, just as Little Bridge’s power is restored and her penitent ex shows up, she has to ask herself if her island fling was only a result of the stormy weather, or if it could last during clear skies too.

My thoughts:

What I enjoy about Meg Cabot’s novels is that the heroine learns something about herself when she meets a man that is suitable for her. During the story, Bree learns what it is that is important to her. In her past she has followed a path that has been expected of her and, with her small rebellion of staying on the island during a hurricane, she comes to realise what it is that is important to her. During her stay, she also finds the strength to stand up for what it is that she feels is right – and to follow through with actions of her own.

Bree Beckham is definitely my kind of heroine. She is an ordinary woman faced with the chance to change her future. She is at a crossroads in her life and needs to find the courage to grab the happiness offered to her. I do admit to enjoying the moment when she definitely decides – I will not say too much about it as it is a turning point in the novel. What I can say is that I loved the incident as it showed Bree standing up for herself.

Even though No Judgements is a romance, it is also a story about a woman who begins to believe in herself – and who has the courage to change her path. It is the perfect story for this time of year and left me smiling. The story encouraged a sense of happiness in me while I was reading it. If you are a pet lover, you will certainly enjoy the addition of pets in this story – they add another dimension to the characters of the story. This is definitely a feel-good story that you will not regret picking up.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 103rd in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Met Her Match by Jude Devereux

I enjoy reading Jude Devereux’s novels and when I saw the library had a copy of her latest novel, Met Her Match, I knew I had to read it.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Blurb:

Terri Rayburn is a girl with a reputation. She doesn’t deserve it, but having grown up on the outskirts of Summer Hill, Virginia, she knows how small towns work. The only way to deal with vicious gossip is to ignore it. So she keeps to herself as she runs the summer resort on Lake Kissel.

When she returns home from a short trip to find a handsome stranger living in her house, she smells a rat. Someone is trying to fix her up, and she has to admit that Nate Taggert is just her type. However, Nate is engaged to the daughter of the mayor and strictly off-limits.

Nate and Terri form an unlikely friendship while he throws himself into life at the lake. As Nate starts to hear rumors about Terri he’s confused. Knowing how smart, beautiful and strong she is, he’s determined to discover the source of the gossip. Terri doesn’t want to revisit the past, but Nate won’t stop until he discovers the truth—even if the truth might be more than either of them can handle.

Set in the beloved fictional town of Summer Hill, Virginia, Met Her Match examines the tensions between the wealthy townspeople, the summer vacationers and the working-class people who keep the town and resort running.

My thoughts:

Met Her Match was perfect for my mood in that it is a light romantic read that brought some smiles to my face. As with all of Devereaux’s novels, it is a well written story that keeps your interest with realistic characters and moments.

I, myself, have never lived in a small town but I can imagine the ostracism that can take place. It is this ostracism which Terri has experienced for most of her life, and yet it has not made her any less of a person. Instead she is hard-working and loyal – character traits which I can relate to. I definitely liked Terri as a character and was behind her all the way. I could not help but smile how Nate upends her world; and a few of their encounters brought forth a chuckle.

If you are looking for a light read, Met Her Match is perfect. This book enabled me to read during the stressful time of report card writing and it definitely helped to take my mind off of my responsibilities. Once again, Jude Devereaux does not disappoint.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 102nd in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

When I was notified by the team at Harper Collins Canada that I had been chosen to receive an ARC of Adam Silvera’s first Fantasy novel, Infinity One, I was so excited I danced a little jig while smiling widely. Fantasy is my favourite genre and I had been looking forward to reading this one.

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Publication date: January 14, 2020

Blurb:

Balancing epic and intensely personal stakes, bestselling author Adam Silvera’s Infinity Son is a gritty, fast-paced adventure about two brothers caught up in a magical war generations in the making.

Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.

My thoughts:

This story is epic and I loved it! This is Silvera’s calling – to write Fantasy novels. I have enjoyed his contemporary novels but not as much as Infinity Son. The story has everything in it that I would want: magic, diversity, complicated characters, action, humanity. I savoured the words as I read them and did not want the story to end.

Infinity Son encourages us to think about sibling relationships – the dynamic of it as well as the support that is given and received. Brighton and Emil are as close as brothers can be and, even though there are moments when they want alone time, they are there for one another in a crisis. Not only does Silvera highlight the closeness of these two family members, he also notes the importance of family as a whole.

What I loved in the novel is the representation of all types of people – not matter what their sexuality or race – and that many of the characters represent people who are comfortable in their own skin. It is definitely only in an ideal that all people are accepted and raised to be accepting of who they are. We do not live in an ideal world – and neither do the characters in Infinity Son as is seen as the story progresses.

Prejudice and lack of acceptance is definitely a theme that runs through the story. The war described in Silvera’s novel mirrors the ones that humanity has experienced throughout history. Prejudice against one group of people is the root cause – a causes that is flamed by a leader who gets the masses to believe what he says as the truth.

At no time when reading this novel did I experience boredom. Infinity Son is perfectly paced and certainly believable (even though it is set in an imagined New York featuring magic). In fact as I turned the last page, I wanted more! A follow-up to Infinity Son is in the making and I am going to wait impatiently for it to be published.

The first novel in Adam Silvera’s Fantasy series is a must-read if you are a fan of the genre. And as it is Young Adult, it is perfect for the young people in your life who enjoy reading books about magic. The bonus? The story is a diverse one that seamlessly includes all types of people. This novel is definitely one to pre-order.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 101st in my book pledge for 2019)

Favourite Read of the Month: October 2019

During the month of October, my plan was to focus on thrillers. I did read a few – though I veered a little from the TBR pile next to my bed. Even though I went on vacation, I did not read as much as I thought I would as I spent time walking on the beach and chatting with my husband.

Below is the list of books that I read. To read my reviews (if you haven’t already), click on the title and you will be able to svisit my post:

  1. Thomas Fenske The Fever – Adult Contemporary ⭐️ 1 star
  2. Gayle Woodson After Kilimanjaro – Adult Contemporary Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  3. Rick Mofina Missing Daughter – Thriller, Suspense ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars
  4. J.P. Delany The Perfect Wife – Thriller, Suspense ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  5. Dave Patterson Soon The Light Will Be Perfect – Young Adult Contemporary ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars
  6. Hannah Mary McKinnon The Neighbors – Thriller, Mystery ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars
  7. Ruth Ware In a Dark, Dark Wood – Thriller, Mystery ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

During the month of October, I managed to read a total of 7 books – not bad for a person who works full time. Most of what I read, I enjoyed. Only two books stand out for me though – The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney and After Kilimanjaro by Gayle Woodson. I loved Delaney’s thriller as it was an unusual story that kept surprising me. My favourite, though, would have to be Gayle Woodson’s novel. Her contemporary story is not mainstream and I loved that it took me to Africa and made me think of women’s issues that are so important in that part of the world. Her novel is definitely my favourite for the month of October.

I hope you enjoyed a number of novels in October. What was your favourite read? Share your choice, or the link to your post, in the comments 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

Book of the Month: May 2019

Book of the Month: June

Book of the Month: July 2019

Book of the Month: August 2019

Book of the Month: September 2019

Book Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

I had seen many positive posts on Instagram on Ruth Ware’s novel so when I saw one of her novels on sale at the second hand book store, I decided to pick it up. While reading the acknowledgements at home, I saw that In a Dark, Dark Wood was her debut.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Blurb:

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room….

Some things can’t stay secret for ever. 

My thoughts:

The novel follows two timelines – the past and the present: while Nora experiences the present, she looks back on the past as it affects her current situation. Following two timelines can be a bit confusing, but Ware successfully intertwined the two that I always knew where I was reading on the timeline .

The novel is slow moving as Ware sets up the scene and shows the reader the dynamic between the different characters in the story. In a Dark, Dark Wood is not action-filled and fast-paced and for some readers could be a bit tedious. As I was interested in the dynamic between the various players in the story, I did not mind the slow pace. The author’s presentation of the characters shows an understanding of human relationships and the power plays that exist between them.

The novel is not too twisty as the reader is able to figure out a lot because of their own knowledge of human relationships. The end, though, did have a bit of the unexpected thrown in. What I enjoyed about the novel was that the story is an exploration of the relationships between friends – and how one person dominates and steers the relationship no matter how many years have passed.

In a Dark, Dark Place is not a fast-paced and extremely twisty novel. Instead it explores the darker side of a friendship that is one-sided. Ware’s debut is one to pick up if you enjoy reading stories on human relationships.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 100th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The Neighbors by Hannah Mary McKinnon

I had never read anything written by Hannah Mary McKinnin. The concept for The Neighbors sounded interesting so I decided to pick it up.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Blurb:

In 1992, a car accident kills a young man and forever changes the lives of three people… Now, twenty years later, they’ll all come to regret the choices they made that day, as the secrets and lies they’ve told to protect each other become the very things that tear their lives apart.

After a night of fun, Abby was responsible for the car crash that killed her beloved brother. It is a sin she can never forgive herself for, so she pushes away the man she loves most, knowing that he would eventually hate her for what she’s done, the same way she hates herself.

Twenty years later, Abby’s husband, Nate, is also living with a deep sense of guilt. He was the driver who first came upon the scene of Abby’s accident, the man who pulled her to safety before the car erupted in flames, the man who could not save her brother in time. It’s this guilt, this regret that binds them together. They understand each other. Or so Nate believes.

In a strange twist of fate, Liam (her old lover—possibly her true soulmate) moves in with his own family next door, releasing a flood of memories that Abby has been trying to keep buried all these years. Abby and Liam, in a complicit agreement, pretend never to have met, yet cannot resist the pull of the past—nor the repercussions of the dark secrets they’ve both been carrying… 

My thoughts:

Goodreads describes the story as a thriller but it is more a human drama with a dash of mystery.

The story deals with two people who have unfinished business and, in part, goes along as one would expect. However as the story unfolds, a few little twists are added to the events that do turn everything upside down. The twists are caused by hidden truths and lies that, if revealed, would cause plenty of hurt and emotional destruction.

Deceit is definitely a thread that runs through McKinnon’s story. Hiding truths is so much a part of people’s lives – but some truths are more harmful than others. In The Neighbors, the truths are revealed slowly. As I realised certain facts, I could not help turning the pages quickly as I did want to know how these deceits would affect the lives of the characters. Having said that, The Neighbors is not an action-packed story that will have you racing to the end. It is, instead, a novel filled with human drama told in a way that keeps the reader interested.

I enjoyed reading McKinnon’s work and I will pick up another title by her. The Neighbors is a story for you if you enjoy reading novels featuring the drama of human relationships.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 99th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Soon The Light Will Be Perfect by Dave Patterson

Soon The Light Will Be Perfect by Dave Patterson is one of the ARCs I picked up at the OLA Super Conference at the beginning of this year. As I was going on vacation, I thought it would be a perfect time to read this novel set in the past. I did not have a chance to read it when relaxing on holiday, but when I flew back home from the Dominican Republic, I carried Dave Patterson’s novel in my bag. At 251 pages, I thought it would be long enough to read on the 4 hour return flight. Even though my husband and I were flying together, we were unlucky enough to be separated on the plane and, because there were no in-flight screens on the plane, the only thing I had to do on the journey was read.

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age

Blurb:

A 12-year-old altar boy lives with his family in a small, poverty stricken town in Vermont. His father works at a manufacturing plant, his mother is a homemaker, and his fifteen-year-old brother is about to enter high school. His family has gained enough financial stability to move out of the nearby trailer park, and as conflict rages abroad, his father’s job at a weapons manufacturing plant appears safe. But then his mother is diagnosed with cancer, and everything changes.

As his family clings to the traditions of their hard-lined Catholicism, the narrator begins to see how ideology and human nature are often at odds. He meets Taylor, a perceptive, beguiling girl from the trailer park, a girl who has been forced to grow up too fast. Taylor represents everything his life as an altar boy isn’t, and their fledgling connection develops as his mother’s health deteriorates.

Set over the course of one propulsive summer, Soon the Light Will be Perfect chronicles the journey of a young man on the cusp of adulthood, a town battered by poverty, and a family at a breaking point. In spare, fiercely honest prose, Dave Patterson captures what it feels like to be gloriously, violently alive at a moment of political, social, and familial instability. 

My thoughts:

The novel is a coming-of-age story set in the 60s and the family described is barely getting by financially. As I was reading the story, I could imagine the setting easily as I thought back to the films I had seen on television when I was a teenager. Even though I had not grown up in Vermont during that time period, it did feel familiar to me.

The story focuses on a young boy whose mother is diagnosed with cancer. He sees his mother growing weaker – and not giving up on her tasks and responsibilities. He sees his father lose his job and taking up anything to bring in a paycheck. He sees his older brother showing interest in a girl and spending less time with him. Because of his experiences at home and in the church, he realises that he needs to decide what is important to him and what it is that he wants to do with his time. He is a young boy growing up during the Vietnam war and during a time in America when things were changing.

The book was interesting and held my attention during the flight. It is not a fast-paced read and instead ambles along as a boy’s childhood would. The content did cause flashbacks to a different time when values and social issues were different. The novel is described as a book for young adults. I would state, however, that it is a novel for teens who enjoy a more literary type of novel – Soon The Light Will Be Perfect is not one that will be enjoyed by those looking for adventure stories or even a teen romance. Instead it slowly describes the change in a twelve year old’s life over a summer period.

I did enjoy Patterson’s novel even though it is a story I would not reread. It was well-written with a sensitivity to the time period and a boy’s entrance into adolescence. Well worth a read if you enjoy coming-of-age stories.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 98th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

I won a giveaway hosted by Penguin Random House Canada for an ARC of The Perfect Wife by D. P. Delaney. When I received it, I admired the cover and, when choosing a book to take with me on vacation, I could not help but pick this one up.

Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Mystery

Blurb:

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago?

My thoughts:

When reading the novel, I realised that there is an interesting aspect in this novel that is not suggested in the blurb making this read even more interesting. I do not want to say too much in case I spoil it for you, but know that it has a futuristic appeal to it that I enjoyed. The viewpoint definitely adds an interesting twist in this psychological thriller – a twist that I have not yet read in this genre.

The Perfect Wife is a fast-paced read that was perfect for a vacation read. I had the time to enjoy the story that Delaney created and I was never bored nor wished for another book sitting on my shelves at home. The writer references the marriage between a man and a woman as well as the power dynamics in their relationship. The woman (who is slowly encouraged to take the part of the submissive) is shown to slowly change her sense of self to fit in with her husband’s belief of what their relationship should be. The little nuggets of Abbie and Tim’s relationship are fed to the reader slowly as you begin to grasp what is actually happening in the story.

During the story we see Abbie growing as a person as her memories of the past filter in. It is interesting to see how she begins to understand her relationship with Tim and with the other people in her life. Abbie is a character that grows during the story. The description of her growth is integrated seamlessly into the story and with such skill that I found I was cheering her on.

As I have said, Delaney’s story is a little different to the usual and has a few unexpected twists thrown in – some of which I was unable to predict. I certainly did not predict the big one at the end of the story! An ending which, by the way, I loved. If you are looking for a psychological thriller that has an unusual bent, then The Perfect Wife is the perfect read for you to pick up.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 97th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Missing Daughter by Rick Mofina

At the OLA Super Conference earlier on in the year, I had the chance to receive a signed ARC of Rick Mofina’s latest novel Missing Daughter.

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Blurb:

Life can change in an instant. For Ryan and Karen Lane, it happens on the morning they discover their twelve-year-old daughter’s window open, their beloved Maddie missing from her bed.

Police investigate. Suspicions swirl. A teenage boy admits he was outside her bedroom window the night she disappeared. A halfway house for convicts recently opened in the neighborhood. The Lane family is thrown into turmoil, then detectives turn their sights on them.

No one is ruled out. Not Karen, with her tragic past, who argued with her daughter. Not Ryan, with his violent streak. Not Maddie’s thirteen-year-old brother, Tyler, who heard voices in her room the night she vanished.

Days, weeks, months, then agonizing years go by without answers, the Lanes fearing that Maddie is gone forever…until a stunning twist shocks everyone, plunging the family deeper into a world of buried secrets whose revelations threaten the very foundation of their lives.

My thoughts:

A parent’s’ nightmare is to wake up and find that your young daughter is missing from her bed. This is what happens to Ryan and Karen Lane. They discover that their twelve year old daughter, Maddie, is missing from her bed with the window open. Mofina describes perfectly the anguish and fear of the parents and her brother and, while I was reading about the accusations against them by the police and the media, I could feel their pain.

Missing Daughter is a well written thriller that is evenly paced. There was at no time in the novel that I felt bored but instead my mind kept working as I attempted to solve the mystery of who was involved with Maddie’s disappearance. I worked out a little, but most of the ending I did not foresee.

Mofina’s latest novel is well worth a read and is perfect for fans of thrillers. Not as twisty as a psychological thriller, but full of suspense nonetheless.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 96th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: After Kilimanjaro by Gayle Woodson

On Instagram, I came across the Booksparks programme. I took a chance and applied to read and review one of their books because the blurb interested me. I was happy when I received the email stating that I would be able to participate in promoting After Kilimanjaro by Gayle Woodson. The topic of the novel interested me, as well as the fact that it is set in an African country.

Genre: Adult Contemporary

Blurb:

Dr. Sarah Whitaker has always been an obedient overachiever, but she is burned out. Training to be a surgeon is stressful. So when her fiancé, David, offers a solution—take a break year at a hospital in Africa and climb Mount Kilimanjaro together—she jumps on board. When he backs out, she embarks on the adventure alone.

Sarah quickly falls in love with Tanzania, a land of gentle people, exotic wildlife, and stunning natural beauty, from the sands of Zanzibar to the peaks of Kilimanjaro. She also develops great respect for new Tanzanian friends: strong African women who strive to serve an overwhelming need for health care. Shocked by the high rate of maternal mortality and the scourge of female genital mutilation in the country, Sarah begins to speak out against FGM and develops an experimental program to train tribal birth attendants in a remote mountain village. Conditions are primitive there, and life is fragile.

The separation takes its toll on her relationship with David, and she fights against feelings for another man. As the months pass, one thing becomes clear: if Sarah survives this year, her life will never be the same again. 

My thoughts:

After Kilimanjaro surprised me and I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would. I expected a serious read and, although the main character shows the reader some serious issues, there were moments that made me smile (such as the budding romance between Sarah and one of her colleagues).

Woodson often makes references to the dire medical straits in Tanzania as well female genital mutilation (FGM). These references, however, are integrated seamlessly into the story and form a part of Sarah’s experience. The descriptions of the Tanzanian women’s experience are powerful and give the reader the opportunity to think about the African woman’s experience. To be honest, after reading these descriptions I did feel grateful to have grown up outside of this practice. Although the novel does not focus entirely on FGM, it does bring the issue up in the reader’s mind and encourages us to think about it.

This novel is truly about Sarah’s story. She is a woman who seems to be following the path that is expected of her by others. She moves off the path and spends a year in Tanzania working with people and in hospitals that have so far been out of her experience. She teaches others and passes on a lot of her knowledge. However, she also learns from the people she is teaching and from her patients. I love how she grows as a character in the story; how she finds her inner strength and the knowledge that she can change direction and follow a passion.

After Kilimanjaro is a contemporary read – but not like the ones I have read recently. The setting is different from the usual; and the experience of the characters is out of the norm. I enjoyed this read and would recommend it to any reader who is looking for a story about a woman who grows into herself; and whose experiences encourage her to change direction in her life.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 95th in my book pledge for 2019)