Book Review: The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

After reading two psychological thrillers in a row, I decided I needed a change of genre. I made the decision to read one of the novels that I had picked up during a sale at a bookstore: The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry. I chose this novel as I liked the blurb on the back – especially the character’s wish for a cookbook titled Rustling Up Dinner When Your Husband Has Left You.

The story centres around Della Cartwright whose mother leaves her hundreds of cookbooks when she dies. Wanting to share all these recipes, she decides to open a bookshop in Rosemary Lane in the village where she grew up. The story is not only about opening a bookshop though. Instead it is a story about a 50 year old woman whose daughter has left home to begin university, and who does not seem to have a close relationship with her husband. Della’s story is told with sensitivity and humour.

“They (the cookbooks) did though – three days later – not because Mark and Sophie had granted permission but because Della had decided she didn’t need anyone’s approval to assume custody of her mother’s books. They were hers by right, for goodness’ sake. Easy As Pie was related to her by blood. The Avocado Handbook and Elegant Catering were moving into 57 Pickering Street and, short of armed security being installed at the front door, nothing was going to stop them.” (p34, AVON a division of Harper Collins Publishers, 2016)

Throughout the novel, Della comes to the realisation that what she wants is important – as important as what others want. I enjoyed reading about her journey as she makes the decisions that embrace her taking back her life. I was definitely on her side and cheered when she successfully opens her bookshop despite criticism.

I enjoyed reading this tale and could not resist giving it 5 stars on Goodreads. I loved it so much that I visited the book store to buy the next story in this series.

Have you read any of Ellen Berry’s Books?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 24th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Advertisements

Weekend Coffee Share: An Event-Filled Week

wordswag_15073188796611453091488.pngIf we were having coffee, I would welcome you in from the cold. In spite of the mild weather we had during the week, both days this weekend have been chilly – the temperatures did not reach the double digits, but at least they did not drop below 0c!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that quite a bit happened over the past week: my attendance at a publishing house showcase, a school trip to the zoo, and my daughter’s birthday.

During my attendance at the OLA Super Conference, I dropped in at the booth run by Pembroke Publishers – a publishing house that specialises in educational books. I left my name and email address with them so that I could receive emails of new releases. A month ago, they sent me an evite to attend their annual showcase. The lineup looked interesting so I accepted the invitation.

From the time I had a bite to eat for breakfast until the moment I lay down my fork after lunch, I was engaged. A line-up of authors spoke about a tidbit from their book. The talks and snapshots were varied and inspiring. I had invited my friend and ex-colleague to attend the showcase with me – and we both loved it. I left the venue with my head buzzing on ideas to improve my teaching practice. I left as well with a purchase of three titles:

  1. Literacy out Loud by Terry Campbell and Michelle E. McMartin. At the moment for Book Club, we are reading about setting up a writer’s workshop in the classroom. This book will, I think, be a perfect compliment to that text.
  2. Guiding Readers by Lori Rog. This text will be set aside for my Summer reading as I aim to improve on my guided reading sessions next year.
  3. Cultivating Readers by Anne Elliott and Mary Lynch. The speaker was so inspiring on ways to get students reading.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Friday I went with my class on a field trip to the zoo. As our school mascot is the penguin, we celebrate World Penguin Day (which was on 25 April). This year our principal organised that the entire school had an opportunity to go to the zoo and meet the penguins. On Friday it was the turn of my class. The talk was informative and the children had many of their penguin questions answered. After lunch we had some time to walk about the zoo before heading back to school.

Yesterday was a big day for my daughter – she turned 18! I cannot believe that the little baby that I brought home is now officially a young woman. She had a few friends over to celebrate and eat lunch with her. After we had prepared the lunch, my husband and I went out to give them some time alone. We took the opportunity to see a film we had been wanting to see for a while, Black Panther. We both loved it. I found the fight scenes so graceful. There were a few moments in the film that caused shivers down my spine. Loved the storyline. Loved the acting.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it is now time I do a little reading for the Book Club I am running at school. Speak to you next weekend, and have a wonderful week.

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Eclectic Alli and the Weekend Coffee Share)

Book Review: Blink by K. L. Slater

When I went to visit my cousin, I left his home with the copy of his favourite book at the moment – Blink by K. L. Slater. This psychological thriller is about the disappearance of a five year old girl, Evie. The police were unable to find her as there were no witnesses to her disappearance and no CCTV at the school where she was last seen.

Evie’s mother, Toni, believes that her daughter is alive. As she begins to silently piece together her memories, the full story of the past begins to reveal itself as well as a devastating truth.

The story is gripping and compels you to keep turning the pages. While reading, you make assumptions based in the information given. And then these assumptions are abandoned as more information is given. My cousin was right – this book is an excellent read and I could not stop myself from turning the pages. I loved that the ending was unpredictable, and yet ended on a positive note.

My cousin has all her other novels on his bookshelf. I think I will be bringing home those as well for a little while. 🙂

Have you read any of K. L. Slater’s books? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 23rd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Grateful for Spring Days

For the last few days the weather has been perfect! Blue skies, no strong winds, temperatures in the double digits – and no snow!Going outside has been a pleasure. Shedding hats and gloves, pedestrians have a spring in their step. Our neigbourhood park has more visitors of the small human variety. A green sheen is now coating the grounds I walk past. My step certainly has a spring to it and I cannot help but think of my favourite composition by Vivaldi – a beautiful expression of what I am feeling with the warmer weather:

This week I am grateful for the arrival of spring and the warmer temperatures.

Processed with RookieWhat have you been grateful for this week? Share your comments or the link to your post below.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Share Your World: A Few Favourites

Sunkist oranges, bananas, pears, apples, and a...

If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?

I would definitely have fruit – of any kind. I enjoy sweet-tasting mango that has been ripened in the sun. A bowl of berries is, for me, the best tasting breakfast or dessert. Biting into a fresh apple is a treat, and eating segments of oranges slake my thirst. I would never be able to go on a diet that excludes fruit.

List at least five movies or books that cheer you up.

Image result for shall we danceFilms that give me that feel-good feeling are those that make me smile and have a wonderfully predictable ending. A few that I can think of are Shall We DanceStrictly Ballroom (though I have not been able to get a copy here in Toronto), Pride and Prejudice, Pretty Woman and Notting Hill.

Books that make me smile are written by women for the women’s fiction genre. Books by Carole Mathews (The Chocolate Lovers’ Club), Marian Keyes (The Break), Sophie Kinsella (Confessions of a Shopaholic), Emily Giffen (Something Borrowed), and Jilly Cooper(Wicked!) are just some of the authors that I turn to when I need some cheering up or if I feel in a slump.

If you were a mouse in your house in the evening, what would you see your family doing? 

Dinner time sees all of us at the table eating together. While eating we share our stories. After dinner is when we separate: My children go and do their homework, my husband either works or watches Netflix on his computer screen, and I watch Netflix or read for half an hour while drinking my tea. Between 9 – 9:30 pm the light in my bedroom is switched off. The other members of the household go to bed MUCH later.

041514 sywbannerWhat would you answer to any of these questions?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Cee’s Share Your World weekly challenge). 

Book Review: The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

After my last read, I looked for something a little more fast-paced than the slow memoir I had just completed. The statement “This is a book you will not be able to put down!” sounded promising so I decided to read The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie next. I had read good things about the novel on Twitter so I was hopeful. The copy I have of this novel is another ARC that I received at the OLA Super Conference.

The voices of three women – Cecily, Franny, and Kate – are heard in this story. Cecily’s husband is killed when a building explodes and Cecily is a witness. In the months that follow the blast, a photo of her watching the horrifying scene brings her unwanted attention as the poster child of the tragic event – and she is trying to hide something. Franny lost her birth mother – Cecily’s best friend – in the blast shortly after the two had met. A year later, she and Cecily team up to help families obtain financial compensation for their losses, but their budding friendship is derailed when it becomes clear that Franny’s story doesn’t add up. A thousand miles away in Montreal, Kate is trying to build a new life. But why did she leave Chicago in the first place?

The novel is filled with twists and turns as the lives of these three women intersect in unexpected ways. I loved that the writer kept me interested in the story. She did this by creating unexpected turns in the story that I did not always guess. The story focuses more on Cecily than the other characters and the reader grows to understand the reasons for her behaviour. We are not told much information about her at the beginning of the story – instead we discover it slowly bit by bit as we read on.

I enjoyed reading this psychological thriller and would highly recommend it. This is a novel that keeps you guessing right until the end.

Have you read any of Catherine McKenzie’s novels?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 22nd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Song Lyric Sunday: Hey Brother by Avicii

Mention the word ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ and one immediately thinks of siblings. It is not often that siblings are mentioned in songs but in Hey Brother by Avicii, both a brother and sister are mentioned.
The song emphasises that blood is thicker than water and that no matter what, and no matter how far he is, the singer will help his siblings.
Hey brother! There’s an endless road to rediscover
Hey sister! Know the water’s sweet but blood is thicker
Oh, if the sky comes falling down, for you
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do
Hey brother! Do you still believe in one another?
Hey sister! Do you still believe in love? I wonder
Oh, if the sky comes falling down, for you
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do
What if I’m far from home?
Oh brother, I will hear you call!
What if I lose it all?
Oh sister, I will help you out!
Oh, if the sky comes falling down, for you
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do
Hey brother! There’s an endless road to rediscover
Hey sister! Do you still believe in love? I wonder
Oh, if the sky comes falling down, for you
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do
What if I’m far from home?
Oh brother, I will hear you call!
What if I lose it all?
Oh sister, I will help you out!
Oh, if the sky comes falling down, for you
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do
The sense one gets when listening to this song is that this person has an overwhelming love for his brother and sister. It is an wonderful thing to see, especially when there are so many siblings out in the world who have no time for one another. When I look at my children I see that they all get on well together. I am hoping that their relationship stays strong during their entire lifetime.
 (Songwriters: Ash Pournouri / Salem Al Fakir / Tim Bergling / Veronica Maggio / Vincent Fred Pontare)
IMG_1345Would you do anything for your sibling?
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018
(This post is linked to Song Lyric Sunday hosted by Helen. The theme this week is brother/sister.)

Escape

The gloomy tunnels seems to stretch on forever with no end in sight.

“When are we going to get out of here?” she whispers to brother. “I don’t like it down here.”

Marsha turns around, hushing them with a stern look. Their hurried footsteps echo in the cavernous spaces. Down here, they could not hear the sounds of fighting above. The shouts of hatred; the clash of swords. She could not understand why the people who had looked after her and her family all her life were suddenly enemies. Why would they want to hurt her? “They are merely servants, dear one.” Her mother’s words made no sense to her. But then neither had the sight of Mark – a beloved friend who had often carried her on his shoulders – wielding a sword and fighting against her father’s soldiers.

“We are almost there. Be extra quiet now.”

They creep through an empty space in the tunnel, keeping low. Exiting the tunnel, they find themselves outside the city walls and on the edge of the coast. The scent of the sea beckons and the small group of women and young children hurry to a boat hidden behind the rocks.

“Quickly! We need to set sail before dawn breaks.” The reunion between parents and children is hurried as they venture into the hull of the ship. “Mother, I am scared.” Her mother’s warm embrace mutes the clatter of footsteps above. The tension in the cabin is palpable as the head of the family paces the wooden floor. Finally, they feel the ship moving. Will they make it? Holding their breath, they will the boat to move faster. After what seems like an interminable wait, the Captain enters the room.

“We have made it Sir. No one noticed us leave and we are now in neutral waters.”

The family go up on deck and watch the burning city. They had made it! Looking ahead away from the land they had once owned and ruled, the group watch the dawn splash its colours over the sky. A new day was breaking; a new life was beginning.

#writephoto© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Sue Vincent’s #writephoto challenge)

An Abundant Amount of Paper

I spend my work days planning lessons, preparing for my classes, assessing my students’ work, and teaching. Every minute of my day feels jam-packed and there are times when I do not stop for a breather. Tidying up the new activities I have created as well as filing my students’ tasks is a low priority in my day.The time may have come, though, to set some time aside to clear up the teetering piles of paper on my desk.

What does your desk look like where you work?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

This post is linked to the WordPress photo challenge. The prompt this week is prolific.)

Weekend Coffee Share: A Cold Yet Successful Week

wordswag_15073188796611453091488.pngIf we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am so happy to see a bit of blue sky today. This past week felt like winter with freezing rain, snow, slippery sidewalks and winter boots! All the adults at work were complaining while the children gleefully played with the snow during recess. By yesterday afternoon about 80% of the snow had melted (though we hadn’t seen much sun). I am hoping that next week we will have a proper Spring.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my colleague and I ran our first Teacher Book Club session on Wednesday. The meeting was well received and people afterwards came to me and said how much they had enjoyed it. I loved how people were sharing their thoughts and even their own experiences in the classroom. I had moved my tables (the children sit in groups at round tables) so that we were in a large circle. We were therefore able to see the faces of everyone as they spoke. There were twelve of us at the first meeting, and I do not think the number will dwindle.

If we were having coffee, I would continue on the subject of work and tell you that our assignments for next year have been decided. I have been given my first choice – which was to continue working with the grade 1 and 2 combined class. I will have more grade 1s in the class next year and plan to adjust my programme accordingly. The bonus is that I shall stay in my current room so I will not need to pack up and move to another space.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the guide book to Paris that I ordered from Amazon arrived earlier in the week. My husband is currently reading it and I think I will need to grab it from him sometime this weekend – there are a few places I want to check out that I did not visit the last time I was in that fair city.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that nothing else has happened this week. The days have followed the usual routine. Hopefully next week will be warmer – and I know will be a little different (I will tell you all about it next week).

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Eclectic Alli and the Weekend Coffee Share)