Book Review: FreeFall by Jessica Barry

I popped into the library and was surprised – and very pleased – when I saw a new release on the shelves that I wanted to read.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

Blurb:

A propulsive debut novel with the intensity of Luckiest Girl Alive and Before the Fall, about a young woman determined to survive and a mother determined to find her.

When your life is a lie, the truth can kill you

When her fiancé’s private plane crashes in the Colorado Rockies, Allison Carpenter miraculously survives. But the fight for her life is just beginning. For years, Allison has been living with a terrible secret, a shocking truth that powerful men will kill to keep buried. If they know she’s alive, they will come for her. She must make it home.

In the small community of Owl Creek, Maine, Maggie Carpenter learns that her only child is presumed dead. But authorities have not recovered her body—giving Maggie a shred of hope. She, too, harbors a shameful secret: she hasn’t communicated with her daughter in two years, since a family tragedy drove Allison away. Maggie doesn’t know anything about her daughter’s life now—not even that she was engaged to wealthy pharmaceutical CEO Ben Gardner, or why she was on a private plane.

As Allison struggles across the treacherous mountain wilderness, Maggie embarks on a desperate search for answers. Immersing herself in Allison’s life, she discovers a sleek socialite hiding dark secrets. What was Allison running from—and can Maggie uncover the truth in time to save her?

Told from the perspectives of a mother and daughter separated by distance but united by an unbreakable bond, Freefall is a riveting debut novel about two tenacious women overcoming unimaginable obstacles to protect themselves and those they love.

My thoughts:

Freefall was an enjoyable thriller written from the point of view of the woman running for her life, and from the POV of her mother. Slowly I pieced together the events that had led up to Allison running for her life – even though she had just survived a plane crash. The author cleverly withholds information and gives it to the reader, bit by bit, thus creating tension and the desire to read the pages quickly. I did eventually guess from whom Allison was running – but only when I was near the end of the novel.

There were moments in my reading of the story that I got annoyed with Allison – her pride and refusal to forgive her mother leads her to some pretty hairy experiences. I would hope that my own children would never let their pride get in the way of asking for help. I felt more empathy for the mom’s story as she slowly discovers what her daughter’s life had become. The reason for this is probably because I am a mom who is always willing to help her children succeed.

The experience of both Allison and Maggie are brought together neatly by Barry at the end of the novel. I liked the ending – even though it is a little predictable once you solve the mystery of who is after Allison. Freefall is a well-written novel written by a debut author that encourages the reader to keep turning the pages to find out how it ends. It is a perfect weekend read.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 39th in my book pledge for 2019)

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Weekend Coffee Share: A Few Good Things

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Saturday was a beautiful day weather-wise. We enjoyed going outside for a walk and it felt truly spring-like. The weather has turned, however, and this morning the temperature stands at 0c. Brr!

If we were having coffee, I would ask you how your Mother’s Day went. Mine was busy – though not filled entirely with Mother-like activities. The morning I spent reading my current book – and enjoying the quiet time spent in the story. Then I went to a CPR course which is one of the requirements to become certified as a group fitness instructor. When I booked my session, I did not realise that it was Mother’s Day and it was too late to change the date. After successfully completing the course in the afternoon, I came home and napped. Afterwards, my family and I enjoyed some time together.

My husband cooked a delicious meal to celebrate. He had suggested going out but I didn’t want to – I was tired and the weather was starting to get a little chilly. Also, I enjoy our home-cooked meals. For dessert we had some chocolate dipped strawberries (which my daughter had prepared) and some chocolate mousse cake. A perfect end to the meal. I was spoiled with gifts as well – some Lindt dessert chocolates, a cosy pair of reading socks (I should wear them today!), and a succulent (my husband knows I prefer potted plants to cut flowers). My day definitely ended on a smile.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my daughter prepared her first dinner solo on Friday. She made a delicious quiche and salad. So proud of her! I am encouraging her to cook more meals without my help so that she can be more independent when she is living on her own in the far distant future. Yesterday, she was paging through the recipe book trying to decide what she would make next so I am sure that she will go shopping for ingredients later on in the day.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Monday the students in my class built their structures. I was lucky in that I had a couple of parents come in to help the children build with boxes, tape, and glue. The children had fun but by the end of the day I was exhausted and had a headache. In the days that followed, my students did the writing piece and this week they will all present their work for the oral mark. They will also be creating maps of their imagined village. I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the highlight of the week was seeing one of our family members who flew into Toronto for a few days. We went out to dinner together mid-week and it was wonderful. I love seeing people I know from my past and to see for myself that they are doing well. I do wish we could have spent more time together this week; but I am grateful that she made the effort to spend some time with us.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the upcoming week is busy – but I will tell you more about that next week. Enjoy the next 7 days until we meet for coffee again.

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 Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

I popped into the library and was surprised – and very pleased – when I saw a new release on the shelves that I wanted to read. Not only did the cover of The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick appeal to me, but also the blurb on the book jacket.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery

Blurb:

Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people—though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.

All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend—her grandmother Zelda—who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.

Filled with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heartwarming and poignant tale of how one woman must take control of her destiny to write her own happy ending. 

My thoughts:

I loved this book so much – so much more than I thought I would. Martha is a woman who has given up her life and dreams to look after aging parents and who, once they have passed, dedicates her life to helping others. However, her help is not appreciated and is instead abused. While reading of her struggles, I empathised with her and felt sadness at what her life had become.

Martha’s life slowly changes as she determines to find out what had happened to her grandmother. On her journey, the reader sees her gathering self confidence and the assurance that what she is doing is right for her. Her determination sets the tone of the novel and slowly the sense of sadness dissipates and is replaced with one of hope. The journey started with a book leads to the main character finding out more about herself and as well as her grandmother.

Recently I have read a number of young adult novels which centre on a young person finding their own voice. Patrick has written an #ownvoices novel too – but the person finding herself is middle aged. I loved reading about an older woman who had yet to find herself and who had yet to garner the courage to speak up for herself. I loved reading that older people too need the opportunity to build self esteem and self confidence.

I finished The Library of Lost and Found with a sense of satisfaction. The story ends on a positive note and with a sense of hope, even though events tinge the story with sadness. This novel is one I would recommend for those readers who enjoy stories with a sense of reality as well as hope.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars with no reservation.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 38th in my book pledge for 2019)

Why I Gratitude

Gratitude refers to an attitude of thankfulness and a desire to show appreciation for an action or event. Taken a step further, gratitude refers to an appreciation of what you have in your life – no matter how small. It is an appreciation of small kindnesses that are offered to us in our daily lives. It is only recently that showing gratitude has become vogue – and yet it is an attitude that should be an important part of our daily lives and thoughts.

Showing gratitude is not a habit followed by those who participate in the fast-paced modern world. Instead, daily actions are taken for granted and circumstances are expected as a right. Many people I come into contact with in my daily life look no further than the people in their immediate circle, comparing their lives with those they meet. The broader experience of others in the world is often ignored, or pushed to the back of their minds.

I have noticed a few people have taken up the banner of gratitude in the western world and, in doing so, are moving towards feeling more in tune with themselves and the world they inhabit. Gratitude does help us to experience positive emotions (optimism, enthusiasm, love, joy, happiness) while it moves us away from experiencing destructive emotions (envy, greed, bitterness, resentment). An attitude of gratitude helps us to find contentment within ourselves and the environment in which we live.

So what can we be grateful for? Firstly for ourselves: for our health, our inner strength, our ability to adapt and learn. It may even be something as small as being able to get up everyday and make ourselves our own breakfast, breakfast that we have the money to buy. The trick is to finding the positive in ourselves and to focus on that instead of what we can find wrong in our lives.

Secondly, we can be grateful for the things in our environment: our home, the people who love us, our workplace, something positive about our work colleagues. It is so easy to focus on the negative; so easy to gossip about things that are not done to our satisfaction. Do you not feel lighter and more content when you focus on the positive and what you are grateful for in a conversation? I know I do.

Thirdly we can be grateful for the small kindnesses that are done to us: a cup of tea that is made without request, a colleague dropping by and bringing us the mail, an unexpected visit by a close friend, a hug by someone you know because they see that you need it. Noticing these small things is what makes me content with my life. I have no need to wish for what others have when I notice that what I have suits me and makes me happy.

Since July 2014, I have been writing Gratitude posts on my blog (you can read the posts here). Writing these posts have helped me to focus on the varied things in my life that I have to be grateful for. It is so easy to focus on one thing but, in order to make my posts varied, my reflections have led me to write on a variety of topics each week. Every week I invite readers to share what they are grateful for in the comments or a post of their own. Reading other people’s thoughts encourages me to realise even more things that I have to be grateful for in my life.

Will you join me in reflecting on what you are grateful for?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to the Ragtag Daily Prompt. Today the topic is Gratitude.)

Refuge

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

The bleak, arid land stretched out before them. Her search for shelter seemed hopeless but she would not give up! Shifting the weight of the sleeping child in her arms, Lily strode forward determinedly. The car had broken down but surely there had to be a homestead somewhere in this godforsaken land. Over the hill, she saw it in the distance. Help. Water. Refuge from the blazing sun.

“Mama, are we nearly there?”

“Yes sweetheart.”

They were welcomed with generosity. The homestead came to be the perfect place to change an identity and to hide from a killer.

© 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.)

A Late Arrival

I ordered a picture book to use as part of our celebrations for World Penguin Day a couple of weeks ago. However, the book had not arrived in time so I continued with the other planned festivities. It finally arrived on Friday afternoon and it was worth the wait.

The picture book is beautifulL’y bound with lovely illustrations, and the story is relevant for the children I teach. As I was reading through the story, I came up with a few ideas of activities I could do with them based on the book. I will read the story to them once we have completed our structures unit and begin exploring animals. Watch this space as I will share some of what we will do.

What has made you smile during the past week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Trent’s Weekly Smile challenge.)

Top 5 Books I want to Reread

Remember that time when you were a child and would reread a book you loved MANY times? As an adult, I enjoy rereads as well – but on a less frequent basis. Today I will share with you 5 books on my shelves that I have enjoyed in the past and would love to reread sometime soon.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This novel is my all-time favourite classic. No matter how many times I read the book, or see the movie, I am swept away by the story. I love the humour in it too and always smile at the character Mrs. Bennett. Pride and Prejudice is not just a love story. In the novel, Austen also makes a commentary on society and the prejudices we have about people.

TThe Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

My Favourite Fantasy novel of all time is The Hobbit as well as The Lord of the Rings. The time has come for me to once again enjoy this story. I picked up an edition of this story from Scholastics and hope to read the story again this year. Of course, after reading this one, I would need to pick up The Lord of the Rings!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowlings

I have started a reread of the Harry Potter series this year. So far I have enjoyed the illustrated editions of the first two novels in the series and soon I hope to enjoy the third. In the meantime, I enjoy the presence of the book on my shelf. I have already had a look at the illustrations and they are beautiful.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations was the first story I read by Dickens . I enjoy his writing – the intricate characterisations and storylines. It has been a while since I have read any of his work and I think it is time to enjoy once again the story of Pip and Miss Haversham.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I read Wuthering Heights first year at university when we studied Gothic literature. I have forgotten the minute details of Heathcliff and Catherine’s story and have a yearning to revisit it. Hopefully I will get to it this year but, if not, it is waiting for me on my bookshelf.

Have you enjoyed any of these novels? Would you reread them?

© 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 we would like to reread).

Book Review: Nocturna by Maya Motayne

I love reading Fantasy novels and was extremely pleased when I received Nocturna by Maya Motayne in my swag bag at the last Frenzy Presents event that I attended. I opened the ARC that I received in anticipation of a good story.

Publication Date: May 2, 2019

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Blurb:

Set in a Latinx-inspired world, a face-changing thief and a risk-taking prince must team up to defeat a powerful evil they accidentally unleashed.

To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks.

As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.

After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.

But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts. 

My thoughts:

As you know, I enjoy reading Fantasy fiction – and this tale did not disappoint. The magic described in the novel was not over the top, and the characters were realistic. The social strata described in the novel are as one sees in our modern world today: the wealthy and the ones in charge, the ones with enough money, the ones who wield power through force, and the poor. The two main characters come from the opposite end of society: the Prince born into wealth and power, and the Thief born into poverty and hardship.

What I enjoyed most about Nocturna were the two main characters: Alfie and Finn. Their banter made me smile, and I could not help but like the way they slowly lowered their guard with one another. Both characters grow during the novel and come to know more about themselves. Not only are they on an adventure to save the world as they know it, but they are also on a journey to learn about how they can defeat a strong magical power in but they are also on a journey to discover the strength they have within themselves.

Motayne wrote this book to share a story featuring diverse characters who are Latinx. Noturna is a wonderful addition not only to fantasy fiction, but also to books featuring a different race/culture group. If you love the world of magic, a story filled with adventure, and a tale that features young people growing into their own sense of self, then you will enjoy this novel.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 37th in my book pledge for 2019)

Music Monday: Africa and Toto

On Saturday evening while we were having dinner, my daughter mentioned the song that was part of the sing-along at their school’s annual music concert. The song took me back years to when I was a teenager. I tried humming the tune for my husband to see if he remembered it but eventually I had to grab the iPad and show it to him.

Do you remember Toto’s song Africa? I remember loving the cool rhythms of it and humming it while doing chores. There is an honesty about the song now as I am listening to it decades later: the music is not as synthesised as so much of the new music (though I do love some of it). While listening to the song, I see in my mind’s eye my cousins and the friends that listened to it with me. The song is definitely linked to good memories for me.

What memories do you have of Toto’s song?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Weekend Coffee Share: Exhaustion!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am feeling exhausted! It is that time of year again when I look forward to the end of the school year and the summer break. I know I will feel better when the air starts to warm up – and stay warm! The weather has often reverted to chilly temperatures and I cannot wait for warm-filled days.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Wednesday I attended the Pembroke Publishers Showcase at which authors of teacher books speak. (You can see my post on the event here.) The event was inspiring and I left there with a few ideas to implement in my classroom. In the afternoon, the organisers had invited some authors of fiction to speak. It was interesting to hear them speak about their experience.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have been building structures with my students in the classroom. On Thursday, I had a person come in to do some woodworking with them; on Friday I helped them build some cars. Next week we will continue with the building as I will give my students time to work on their final structure for the unit. The next few days will be busy and they will be days which the children will enjoy.

If we were having coffee, I would ask you to go for a walk with me. The weather today is beautiful outside: there is no wind, the temperature is above 10c, and the sun is shining. I hope days like this are here to stay. As I have already mentioned, I am ready for warmer temperatures!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am actually up to date with my book reviews! Last month I read a total amount of 10 books – and 9 out of 10 novels I really enjoyed. The poetry collection was a disappointment especially as April was poetry month. If you want to see what I read, head on over here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you to enjoy the rest of the weekend. My eyelids are drooping and I think it is now time for a nap! Have a good week!

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)