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)

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Book Review: The Yankee Widow by Linda Lael Miller

I received an ARC of The Yankee Widow by Linda Lael Miller from Harper Collins Canada. I was looking forward to reading the novel as I enjoy reading historical fiction. This particular novel attracted my attention as it is based on the period of the American Civil War, a time period that I do not know much about.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

A richly layered, emotional novel about one woman’s courage and the choices she must make in the face of a dangerous war.

Caroline is the young wife of Jacob, who together live on a farm raising their daughter just outside of Gettysburg. When Jacob joins the Northern army, no one anticipates he will not return. Then Caroline gets word that her husband is wounded, and she must find her way alone to Washington City and search among the thousands of casualties to find him.

When Jacob succumbs to his injuries, she brings his body home on the eve of the deadliest battle of the war. With troops and looters roaming the countryside, it is impossible to know who is friend and who is foe. Caroline fights to protect those she holds most dear while remaining compassionate to the neediest around her, including two strangers from opposite sides of the fight. Each is wounded… Each is drawn to her beauty, her kindness. Both offer comfort, but only one secretly captures her heart. Still, she must resist exposing her vulnerability in these uncertain times when so much is at risk.

In The Yankee Widow, gifted storyteller Linda Lael Miller explores the complexities and heartbreak that women experienced as their men took up arms to preserve the nation and defend their way of life. 

My thoughts:

Reading The Yankee Widow was interesting for me as I had not yet read a novel describing the viewpoint of a Yankee woman during the American Civil War. The strength the widow (Caroline) had to find within herself was described in the story as well as the many of the obstacles she encountered. Even though the reader is told of the difficulties she faces, we do not see inside her head and truly feel the emotion that she feels.

As with some historical novels, I was unsure of the history behind the story so I found myself looking up some facts on the skirmish in Gettysburg. Don’t you love it when you learn something when you read a novel? The descriptions of the fighting are not too graphic and Miller focuses on the experience of the characters in her novel. She adroitly links the soldiers she has focused on in the battles to the main female character in her story.

Other parts of the history are referred to in the story: slaves who have been freed, slaves who have run away, slaves who have been abused by their owners on Southern plantations. Miller refers to these facts while spinning her tale; but does not dwell on them. I craved for more of this part of history in the story but realised that it was not the focus of the novel.

Instead the story centres on the life of a young widow who works on surviving the war. There were times when I wanted Miller to focus more on the hardship and the struggles Caroline would have experienced – the author seems to have glossed over what would have been difficult time period for a woman living on her own away on a farm far from the town. Having said that, the struggles described are authentic and believable to the reader.

The character, Caroline, finds within herself a strength she did not know she had. She travels, unchaperoned, to find her husband in the city. And, once back home, learns to figure out what needs to be done to save the family farm. She is a woman who realises what type of man she married, and how she worked on fulfilling the expectations of both her husband and society. I love that she grows as a character during the novel. She is faced with a choice of how to continue with her life after the war – and it is a testament to her growth as a person that she is able to choose the path that she does.

The Yankee Widow is an enjoyable read for those who enjoy reading historical fiction. Be warned, though, it may leave you wanting to read more of the time period.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 58th in my book pledge for 2019)

A Buddy Re-Read

I have been encouraging my friend to read a retelling of Pride and Prejudice: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin. The novel has been written by a Canadian author who lives here in Toronto and showcases a culture that my friend and I do not know too much of.

My friend has begun the novel and would love to discuss it with me. I read the book over a year ago and have forgotten the finer details. Currently I am re-reading this rom-com and tagging it with points I would like to discuss.

Have you re-read a book in order to discuss it with friends?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. The theme for the month of July is “blue”.)

Sand and Stars

One of the genres I enjoy reading is science fiction. When I look back on my teen years, I remember reading the Dune saga by Frank Herbert with enthusiasm. I loved the otherworldly places he described, as well as many of the characters he created. The Star Wars films were also a favourite and hearing the theme song would make me think of the futuristic planes and personalities.

Moving location to the other side of the world meant I had to leave my books and films behind. Seeing the novel House Atreides at a library book sale reminded me of my enjoyment of Herbert’s writing. It may be time to re-read the saga.

Have you read the Dune saga?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. The theme for the month of July is “blue”.)

Weekend Coffee Share: First Week of the Break

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we are in the middle of experiencing a heat wave and will therefore opt-in for the iced version. Since Thursday, the temperatures have been wicked and I have been cooling off in front of the fan and reading. I am also grateful that I have set up my balcony so that we can sit outside as often it is cooler to spend time outside instead of inside.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my week started with a public holiday – Canada Day, to be precise. My family and I decided to do something different and stand in line to receive a free meal given out by a local restaurant. If you want to read more about this, you can have a look at my post (the link is here).

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I met up with my dear friend a couple of times during the week for a brief tea. After a little catching up, we managed to speak a little about our buddy read. We haven’t finished discussing the book though – there is so much to say about it! Hopefully we will get the chance to do so this week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have managed to rest a little. I am still feeling a little tired but not as exhausted as I was by the end of the school year. This time off does me good and I look forward to resting more before I work on my plans for the summer. In the meantime, I will continue to take things slowly and enjoy my time without deadlines and a tight schedule.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am still enjoying the flowers given to me by the parents over a week ago. The lilies have died and I have cut off the dry leaves. The carnations and white flowers are hardy though.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you to have a good week. May it be filled with many adventures.

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)

Book Review: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

I received an ARC of The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai wfrom Harper Collins Canada. I was looking forward to reading the novel as I was in the mood for some romantic comedy and this story looked interesting.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules: 

– Nude pics are by invitation only 

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice 

– Protect your heart 

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears. 

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

My thoughts:

The Right Swipe focuses on internet dating – an experience which I, myself, have not had to go through. The author has made provisions for readers like me who will not know the terms (such as ‘ghosting’) by explaining them through her character Samson Lima. I could definitely relate to him as he wandered through the quagmire of online dating. Some of his responses made me smile and confirmed that I had picked up a lighthearted read.

Even though Rai’s novel is an easy read of the romance genre, character development and growth does occur in the story. It is this character development that I enjoy to read – Rhiannon Hunter, for example, comes to some realisations about herself. She learns what it is that has been preventing her from having a committed relationship with someone. And once she accepts her shortcomings, she is open to considering the inclusion of a partner in her life.

The Right Swipe is a diverse read that features a strong female character. I enjoy stories with strong female characters as so often women are expected to downplay their strengths. Seeing strong women in stories suggests to readers that being strong is not a weakness, and is instead something to be proud of. The novel is also one that hints at the prejudices a person has of those met online. It is these prejudices that have to be acknowledged and worked through in order to appreciate who a person is.

I picked up The Right Swipe hoping for a light and easy read – and was not disappointed.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 57th in my book pledge for 2019)

No Resort but a Thrilling Read

A couple of weeks ago I won a giveaway on Instagram. It is always exciting to win something – and yet so unexpected as so many people enter. I was doubly excited to win as the book has been recently published, and it is by a Canadian author. I have not read any of her stories yet, so this read will determine whether I head out and pick up any of her other books.

This Summer Break will see me staying at home and not relaxing on the beach somewhere. Instead, I will immerse myself in Marissa Stapley’s novel and imagine myself at a resort somewhere observing the characters in the story.

Are you visiting a resort this summer?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. The theme for the month of July is “blue”.)

Reading in Line

I love it when the books I buy for people as gifts are actually read. For Father’s Day I gifted my husband with two books – one of which he has already completed. On Monday while we were waiting in line to enter the Mandarin Restaurant for a free meal, he was reading the second book.

Note the bookmark – which was created by my daughter for last year’s Father’s Day gift. It is difficult to buy gifts for my husband and we are always pleased when what we give him is enjoyed.

Do you see the recipients using your gifts?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. The theme for the month of July is “blue”.)

First Line Fridays: The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

I wake feverish. The skylight above me pulses with rain, and I spider my fingers across the sheets, remembering I’m alone. I close my eyes and find my way back to sleep, until I’m woken again, engulfed by a deep, sudden pain. I’ve been waking with a sick feeling every morning since he left, bu I know that away this is different.
Something’s wrong.”

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy (2018, Harper Collins Publishers)

This book centres on a story that is every young mother’s nightmare – the kidnapping of her child. This was an intense read with some unexpected twists.

Would you keep reading?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

A Day of Reading

Last night I started reading Alafair Burke’s recent novel The Better Sister. Even though she has written a number of novels, this is the first one of hers that I am reading. This murder story has me guessing and I am waiting for something unexpected to drop during the court case.

I have spent quite a bit of time today reading. It is hot and humid and reading in front of the fan is a perfect way to cool down. Also I want to know who committed the murder …

What do you do on hot and humid days?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. The theme for the month of July is “blue”.)