Teaser Tuesday: The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

During December I read The Home For Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman – a novel of historical fiction that really opened my eyes to an atrocity that had been committed in Quebec, Canada. In order to receive more funding from the government, orphanages were transformed into mental hospitals and the orphans themselves were abused and neglected.

The extract I am sharing with you today describes the first hint of the change that Elodie, the young child in the orphanage, experiences:

“The next morning, three important things happen, all of which give Elodie an anxious feeling of terrible things to come. The first is the banging that wakes her up much earlier than usual. When she looks outside, she sees workers removing all the shutters from the windows and replacing them with black iron bars.

Next, when she goes downstairs to breakfast, she notices that all the sisters are wearing white habits instead of their usual black.” (p107, Harper Collins Books, 2018)

The story continues with heartbreaking intensity and is one I will not forget quickly.

Would this novel interest you?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

A Birthday Delight

I was born a couple of days after Christmas and for my last birthday, my family and I were on vacation in the Dominican Republic. I had never spent a birthday on the beach and that is exactly what I wished to do. After doing some aqua Zumba in the pool and eating lunch at the beach restaurant, we headed off to the beach to spend the afternoon enjoying the views and swimming in the ocean.

I even managed to do a little reading while my husband went to confirm our flight and do our online check-in.

After spending a wonderful afternoon together on the beach, my family and I headed back to our hotel rooms to get ready for our dinner reservations. I had chosen to eat at the Italian a la carte restaurant – a far cry from the buffet that we normally dined at on my birthday. When we arrived at our room, my husband and I were surprised to see the banner placed on our door.

We were especially delighted with what we saw on the bed:

I had to call my daughters to come over quickly and see what had been done.

While leaving, my youngest happened to glance in the bathroom and called us over.

The bathroom looked so pretty and I could not contain my delight at seeing the drawn bath – I really felt spoilt!

Of course I had to take a bath – and switch on the jacuzzi jets! I still managed to be ready on time for our booking at the restaurant – though only just! On arriving at the restaurant, I was in for another surprise:

On the beautifully decorated table, I saw a birthday card written to me from the concierge and the people who had organised all of these wonderful surprises.

The day could not get any better! As you can imagine, I was grinning from happiness. After a wonderful meal, I was gifted with the last surprise of the evening: the waiters sang happy birthday to me and presented my with a delicious cake that had been made especially for me.

My 2019 birthday is not one that I will forget quickly. It has certainly been the best birthday I have ever experienced.

What has been your most memorable birthday celebration?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge.)

A Walk on the Beach

The best thing about our holiday to the Dominican Republic was walking on the beach. On our first day, we could not resist the call of the sand and water.

The stretch of beach seemed never ending and our walk was unhindered by barriers.

I loved feeling the sunlight on my skin (we had left behind cold, grey days) as well as hearing the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. The breeze did not worry me, nor the many ocean bathers.

I drank in the sight of the palm trees waving in the wind and breathed in the salt air.

We walked by many hotel loungers facing the sea. Many were empty as around 5pm many beach-goers pack up and get ready for the dinner hour. We did not turn back from our walk, though, as we had decided to eat later and wanted to make the most of our time near the water.

I was curious about the trees that were still alive but do not have much contact with the soil. Had they been transported there to add to the atmosphere of the surroundings?

As the sun sank towards the horizon and the light faded, we turned back the way we had come. The shadows were lengthening and we knew that our walk along the edge of the sea would soon be over.

In the fading light, the landscape appeared more moody. That did not deter me, however, from enjoying my surroundings.

Each day that we were in Punta Cana, we walked along this stretch of beach. I loved the feel of the salt water washing up on my legs, and the sensation of the rough sand on the bottom of my feet. I enjoy walking along the beach and look forward to the next time I visit.

Do you enjoy walking on the beach?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Jo’s Monday Walk challenge as well as Becky’s Square Challenge.)

Working By Lamplight

Since the beginning of 2020, we have been experiencing overcast, grey days (I am really missing the sun and the long walks on the beach we experienced on our vacation). When I get home, the light we do experience is already fading requiring us to put on the lights in our place.

This week I am trying to finish the setup of my bullet journal and the dim and fading light makes it difficult for me to see the dots in the journal. My daughter has loaned me her lamp and now whenever I feel the creative urge, I am able to journal no matter what the natural light.

The lamplight is perfect and enables me to journal a little every day. I do miss the natural light though and wish daily to see the sun and blue skies.

Do you work by lamplight?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. In the spirit of the New Year, why not join in the challenge and share some square photos featuring light.)

Pool Lights

At the resorts, pools are emptied by 6pm as they are cleaned of the day’s activities. At this time, dinner restaurants are opened and the nightly entertainment begins. The pool, however, still shows an attractive face.

We loved the look of the pool near our hotel and at night time it looked really magical. I loved the blue of the night lights – such an attractive way to warn people that water is approaching.

Each night we walked by the beautiful sight while meandering along to the singing and dancing performances; and then saw this sight before entering the building that housed our room.

What do you think of the pool night lights?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. In the spirit of the New Year, why not join in the challenge and share some square photos featuring light.)

Favourite Read of the Month: December 2019

During December, I read a combination of library books as well as some books I own. The library books were books I had put on hold as I had seen recommendations on Instagram.

The other novels I read were ones that I had at home. Three of them I chose because they were Christmas-themed and I felt they would put me in the mood for the Holidays.

My total for the month was 7 novels. Even though I was on break for the last week of December, going on a family vacation meant that I did not do too much reading and instead spent the time with my family. 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 visit my post:

  1. Joanna Goodman The Home for Unwanted Girls – Historical Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars
  2. Sarah Morgan A Wedding in December – Romance, Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars
  3. Sarah Smith Faker – Romance, Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars
  4. Melissa de la Cruz Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe – Romance, Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️ stars
  5. Kristen Rockaway How To Hack A Heartbreak – Romance, Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars
  6. Karen Swan The Christmas Secret – Romance, Women’s Fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars
  7. C. J. Tudor The Taking of Annie Thorne – Thriller, Mystery, Horror ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars

Even though I read a number of enjoyable novels in December, the one that stood out for me was C. J. Tudor’s novel The Taking of Annie Thorne. Not only was the story perfectly paced, but the writing was spot on. I was really impressed.

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

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Guiding Lights

Natural light leaves quickly in the Dominican Republic! On one of our first beach walks, my husband and I were caught unawares and needed to make our way back to our room in the dark. Luckily the way back from the beach was beautifully lit.

The night lights give the resort a different feel and added another dimension to our explorations.

Do you enjoy walking at night while on vacation?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. In the spirit of the New Year, why not join in the challenge and share some square photos featuring light.)

CityLights

As the sun sets on the city, natural light vies for attention with man-made light.

During the winter, I often notice the earlier setting sun as I move between evening chores. During that in-between moment, I find the city-lights to look almost beautiful.

Do you often notice the lighting at twilight?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. In the spirit of the New Year, why not join in the challenge and share some square photos featuring light.)

Christmas Tree Glory

The resort we stayed at in the Dominican Republic featured a beautiful Christmas tree in the lobby of each hotel.

I loved the vibrant red that had been placed on the tree as well as the glittery decorations.

At night time, though, the tree’s glory really shone through.

I could never have a Christmas tree like this at home as we do not have the space. So every time we passed the lobby or entered in the space, I enjoyed the tree’s beauty.

I saw this tree most often as it stood in the lobby of the hotel I stayed at. I did have the chance to see many other decorated trees around the resort but this was the one I saw the most.

Do you prefer the tree lighted or unlighted?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. In the spirit of the New Year, why not join in the challenge and share some square photos featuring light.)

First Read of 2020

For my first read of 2020, I chose a Young Adult Fantasy novel by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani titled Seven Deadly Shadows. The story is set in Japan and embraces Japanese mythology. I am loving the story and the snapshot of a culture that is so different to what I know and experience every day.

Yesterday I met up with a friend and while travelling on the public transit, I took the opportunity to delve a little into the world of yokai, kitsanes, and shinigamis.

My first read of 2020 is a perfect fit for me and hope that Seven Deadly Shadows will be the first of many good stories I enjoy this year.

What is your first read of 2020?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020