Teaser Tuesday: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Today I am sharing an extract from Pride by Ibi Zoboi. I picked up this Young Adult novel last year when I heard that it was a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I loved reading Zoboi’s perspective. Not only did she incorporate references from one of my favourite classic novels, she also added the viewpoint of a culture far removed from that of Austen’s England.

The novel is set in Brooklyn and is told from the POV of Zuri Benitez, a woman who has pride in her Afro-Latino roots. The wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, the epitome of those who are slowly gentrifying her neighbourhood. Zuri wants nothing to do with the Darcys but as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial shifts into understanding.

“I don’t smile when Mrs. Darcy greets us. Her eyes immediately drop down to our shoes. So I look down too, to see Mama wearing her leopard print platform stilettos that she bought for her fortieth birthday party at a small club in Bed-Stuy. My face gets hot with embarrassment because I knew that this wasn’t the kind of party for those kinds of heels.” (108)

(2018, Balzer + Bray, Harper Collins Publishers)

Pride is definitely worth the read for those who enjoy Pride and Prejudice retellings, or diverse reads.

Do you enjoy reading Pride and Prejudice retellings? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

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

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Teaser Tuesdays: Crossfire by Jessie Kwak

I received Crossfire by Jessie Kwak and eagerly picked it up to read as I had enjoyed the first novel in her Bulari Saga. Yesterday found me sitting on the sofa reading the story until it was done – I could not help it, I had to now what would happen!

“Pitch darkness is strange. It’s claustrophobic, shrinking down the entire world to the amount that fits into your awareness, a palm-sized space where your breath leaves your body, your organs thrum in your chest cavity, you feel the tiny, disconnected sensations where parts of your body press against unknown objects. But it’s also expansive, your potential environment no longer confined by the physical walls that once hemmed you in. Pitch darkness is what your imagination makes it.” (p298)

(2019, Independent Author)

In Crossfire, I have learned more about Kwak’s characters – and I am getting to love them. I also enjoy the writing – it is precise and the imagery is on point.

Do you enjoy reading independent authors? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

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

Teaser Tuesdays: Double Edged by Jessie Kwak

It had been a while since I had read a good science fiction read and was thrilled when I picked up Double Edged by Jessie Kwak to discover that the good writing kept me interested and on the edge of my seat.

“Level C hits Manu like a physical thing: the scents, the din, the crush of people. Manu pauses in the entry, taking it all in. The air is heavy with fry grease and engine oil and voices echo off the high ceiling, jumbled so it’s hard to pick out anything individual. Warring news and music programs blare from the lunch stands, callers hawk wares as they wander the crowds, and the buskers and street performers only spike the chaos” (p36)

(2019, Independent Author)

The novel is gritty and realistic. And I loved it. A reader can almost forget that it is set in a futuristic environment.

Do you enjoy Science Fiction? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

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

Teaser Tuesdays: Women Talking Mirian Toews

During the past week I read Women Talking by Mirian Toews. The book centres on a discussion held by traditional Mennonite women over 48 hours after a series of rapes in the community. While deciding on the choice the women are to make in response to the rape, the group discuss many issues. Today I will quote one:

“Greta Loewen sighs heavily. She says that although we may not be animals, we have been treated worse than animals, and that in fact Molotschna animals are safer than Molotschna women, and better cared for.” (p39-40)

(2018, Penguin Random House)

As the discussion progresses, the relationship between the men and women in the patriarchal society that exists in the Molotschna community is continuously referred to. It angers me to think that there are still women in the world who are treated less than animals.

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)

A little more of The Library of Lost and Found

My favourite read so far this month is definitely The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick. (You can read my review here.) The extract I have chosen to share with you describes the main character, Martha, and the current state of her home:

“Bin bags and other boxes lined the floor in here, too, all neatly labeled. All contained her parents’ things, or stuff that didn’t have a home, or jobs she had taken on and hadn’t given back.

Feeling daunted by the size of the task facing her, Martha wrapped her arms across her chest. She wondered if Gina had glanced inside the room when she used the bathroom. Her cheeks flushed as she imagined what her nana’s carer might describe her as. A hoarder? A bit strange? Can’t let go of the past?

Could any of those be true? (p213-214, Harlequin, 2019)

The quoted words give you a hint that the novel is so much more than what a reader would expect.

What do you think of the extract I shared? Would you pick up the book?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

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

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)

Confessions of a Tinderella by Rosy Edwards

Confessions of a TinderellaIt was a long time ago that I was on the dating scene: going out with men who were essentially strangers in the hope of finding that one person to spend the rest of my life with. I remember the awkwardness of getting to know one another, the dates that did not quite match up to expectations, and the effort put into getting to know another person.

Confessions of a Tinderella by Rosy Edwards peaked my interest. Not only because the story is about dating, but because it describes dating using the app Tinder. I had heard many stories about my son’s Tinder dates, and I thought it would be fun to read about someone else’s experience. The novel describes Rosy Edward’s  experience with the dating app and the men she meets through her use of it. My teaser describes her meeting with one of the first men she meets:

“Overall, he bears a good to his photos; his looks are not the problem. The reason I want to go home at ten past eight is because I don’t fancy him. I knew it from the minute I saw him and I can’t imagine I’m going to change my mind before I’ve finished my drink. I don’t find Elliot engaging; I don’t feel any sexual chemistry and I don’t think we have anything in common beyond the fact that we’ve both seen all of The Sopranos. I’m sure that one day he’ll meet a fellow mariner (mariness?) and they will sail off into the sunset together, tweaking their booms and cleets as they go. The received wisdom is that you’re supposed to ‘know’ when you meet The One and I think the same is true when you don’t.” (p 31, Penguin Random House UK, 2015)

The novel was hilarious as the main character, Rosy, moves from one date to another. I found myself chuckling not only at the experiences of this woman in search of The One, but also at the tongue-in-cheek humour of the writer. I enjoyed this novel immensely and have set it aside for my girls to read this summer.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

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

The Magdalen Girls by V.S.Alexander

The Magdalen GirlsI had heard of the Magdalen girls before and that they were affiliated to the Catholic Church, but I had not read about them. When browsing the new titles in the library catalogue, I came across The Magdalen Girls by V. S. Alexander and did not hesitate to put it on hold because I was curious.

The story in the novel takes place in Dublin, Ireland in 1962 within the gated grounds of the convent of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption. The convent is one of the city’s Magdalen Laundries, an institution set up by the Catholic Church to help reform girls and women. Once places of refuge for women in trouble, these laundries evolved into grim workhouses with strict and severe regimes where women toiled without respite. Some inmates were “fallen” women – unwed mothers, prostitutes, or petty criminals – . but most were ordinary girls whose only sin lay in being too pretty, too independent, or in tempting the wrong man. Many of these women were forced into these institutions by the Catholic Church and families who did not want the girls living with them.

Alexander’s story centres around Teagan Tiernan, a sixteen year old who is sent to the Laundry by her family when her beauty provokes lust in a young priest. At the convent, Teagan befriends Nora Craven, another girl who has been sent to the workhouse by her family. The girls are stripped of their freedom and dignity, given new names and denied contact with the outside world. The Mother Superior, Sister Anne, inflicts cruel and dehumanizing punishments on the girls in the name of love. Nora and Teagan find an ally in the reclusive Lea, a current resident who helps them endure their stay. Together they think of an escape plan.

My teaser comes from the beginning of the novel on Teagan’s first day at the convent:

“She instinctively raised her hands to her head. She hadn’t thought about losing her hair, but it made sense after seeing the Magdalens at breakfast. She stroked the blonde strands, which were soon to be gone, cropped close to her head like the other girls. She was a prisoner. In history class, she had read about people who were held in World War II camps. They had been robbed of their identities and their possessions. She shivered at he thought. Much like those prisoners, she was dependant on The Sisters of the Holy Redemption, her captors, for her food, clothing and shelter – until she could escape. The notion smoldered inside her. Escape. But Sister Mary Elizabeth was right about some things. It would be impossible to walk out of the convent. She would have to plan an escape, carefully and intelligently, waiting for the right time.” (p57, Kensington Books, 2017)

I enjoyed this well-written novel from start to finish. A story of friendship between three girls is woven into the historical facts of this time period. I kept hoping that Teagan, Nora and Lea would survive their experiences. And kept thinking that I am thankful not to be living in the 1960s in Dublin as a Catholic girl. Reading this novel informed me a little more about the Magdalen laundries in Ireland as well as giving many hours of reading enjoyment. If historical fiction is your preferred read, you will enjoy this sincere and compassionate story.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

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

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

Close Enough to TouchWhile browsing through the list of new books in our library, I came across Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley. The blurb intrigued me. A story about someone who is allergic to people and cannot be touched? A scary thought.

The novel centres around the character Jubilee Jenkins, a woman who has a rare condition (she is allergic to the human touch). After a nearly fatal accident, she becomes a recluse. Her mother’s death forces her to leave her home and find a job. This she does at the local library where she begins to interact with people.

My teaser is near the beginning of the book. Her mother has died and Jubilee wishes to go to her mom’s funeral.

“My shoulders begin shaking as my laughter mutates into crying. 

I’m not going to my mother’s funeral. Lenny will wonder where I am. Anything my mom’s told him over the years about my being a bad daughter will be confirmed.

And while all of that is troublesome, another thought floats on the periphery of my brain, waiting to be let in. A terrifying thought. A thought that I realize maybe I’ve known deep down but haven’t wanted to admit to myself. But it’s hard to deny it when I’m leaning against the front door inside my house, unable to slow my heart or stem my tears or stop my body from shaking. 

And that thought it: Maybe there’s another reason I haven’t left my house in nine years.

Maybe it’s because I can’t.” (p 18-19, Gallery Books, 2017)

This novel was captivating and had me rooting for Jubilee. My heart ached for her as she fell in love and was unable to touch him as she wished to. There were many poignant scenes in this story; scenes which were beautifully written. This romance story is definitely not ordinary. I enjoyed reading this novel and would recommend it for anyone who is looking for a romance novel with a difference.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

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

It Started with Paris by Cathy Kelly

After reading Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly, I knew that I had to read another of her novels. I went online and put on a hold for another of her stories – It Started with Paris. I was not disappointed and enjoyed this novel as much as the previous one I had read.

The story begins with a proposal on the Eiffel Tower and continues in Bridgeport, Ireland. We read about Leila, who is nursing a broken heart; Vonnie, a widow and exceptional cake maker; and Grace, a divorced head teacher.

My teaser is a reflection made by Grace. I chose this quote as what was written in her voice reflects some of what I believe myself:

“When she herself had been a junior infants teacher, over twenty-seven years ago, Grace could recall looking at each one of those little faces as if they were the country’s hope for the future. Happy and fulfilled adults, the best mothers and fathers ever, good-hearted people, even captains of industry and enthusiastic entrepreneurs. She’d seen it all in them, and she still did. People who thought differently did not make the best teachers.” (p25-26, Orion Books, 2014).

I enjoyed reading the lifelike experiences of the characters in this novel. I cheered for some of the characters, and was satisfied when certain decisions were made. I would recommend this read to those who enjoy reading true-to-life stories. And I will browse my library’s catalogue to see if any more books by Cathy Kelly are available.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

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