Book Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

This year I plan to re-read The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling and during February I read the second book in the series: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This novel is available in a beautiful illustrated edition and this is the edition I read for my revisit into the Hogwarts world of magic.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy

Blurb: 

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone — or something — starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects . . . Harry Potter himself?

My thoughts:

I loved Harry Potter’s world the first time I read the series and my enjoyment was not diminished with a second reading. I smiled at the mischief Harry and his friend Ron got up to, and enjoyed reading about their stealthy adventures in the corridors of Hogwarts.

My enjoyment of this book was amplified by the paintings by Jim Kay in the illustrated edition. The paintings are beautiful renditions of favourite characters and he does them great justice. Like a young child, I ‘read’ the images in the book and admired the detail in Kay’s work.

I am reminded again of why children love this story so much: it is full of magic, adventure, as well as relatable characters. I look forward to reading the next installment in the story.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 15th in my book pledge for 2019)

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Music Monday: Sucker by The Jonas Brothers

On Friday my daughter told me about a new song by The Jonas Brothers. I had seen that they had got back together but had not yet listened to any of their new songs. My daughter particularly likes Sucker and has started playing it a number of times since it has come out.We watched the video together:

I like the song. It is catchy and I have always like the music these brothers make. I am not too keen on the video though as there doesn’t seem to be a link between the song and the images on the screen. And it does look a bit pretentious to me.

What do you think of the new song – and video – by The Jonas Brothers?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Weekend Coffee Share: An Exhausting Week

Join us for some coffee time!If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am tired to the bone and cannot wait for the next school break. Last week in particular was tiring as there was so much to do. The week did seem to fly by, though, and I cannot believe that the weekend is almost over. What I do want to be over is Winter. The ground outside is still covered in white – in fact we had some snow fall on Friday and Saturday. We all keep hoping for Spring but right now it seems so far away. I am tired of wearing the cumbersome winter gear and I cannot wait to hear birdsong and see leaves on the trees.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my week began with attendance at the Youth Arts Program event on Monday evening. Both my daughters submitted a piece of art for the exhibition that is held every year at the Ontario Legislative Assembly and Monday night was the opening night. I am so proud of my girls and pleased that they are confident enough to put their art out into the world.

On Tuesday I took my class on a field trip with the other grade 1 teachers to attend the Gregg Le Rock concert. As always, the children had fun singing and dancing to songs that we had been playing in class. The trip was tiring though as I was with the children the entire day – even during lunch time. We got back to school after lunch and ate together in the classroom. It was such fun seeing the children get excited about singing in French at the concert. Their favourite song is definitely the Terry Fox song which they sang with enthusiasm.

Wednesday at school was another fun-filled day as the entire school participated in organised activities for our Carnaval (which is based on a winter tradition in Quebec). This year I ran a station – one on dance. I created a Just Dance playlist and the children danced to the videos I projected up on the wall. What fun we all had! The station was a favourite for many children. Other stations included bingo, flag making, and plasticine building.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that by the end of the week I was bone-tired. I have rested a bit over the weekend but am still feeling fatigued. I am looking forward to the upcoming school break – only one more week to go!

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)

First Line Fridays: Inkling by Kenneth Oppel

“No one was awake to see it happen, except Rickman.”

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel. (Click the title for my full review).

Right from the first line, I was curious to find out what had happened! A perfect line to capture the attention of young readers!

Are you curious? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

Book Review: Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

I received Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner in the Indigo Book Box with Geekerella by Ashley Postun. Gardner describes a fandom in her novel which promised to be interesting – especially as my own daughter plays Dungeons and Dragons.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult Fiction

Blurb: 

Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dude bro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

My thoughts:

I loved this story about fandom, cosplay, and believing in yourself enough to show the world what you love doing. Chaotic Good, however, is more than just about a fandom. It is about a young girl who comes to believe in herself and in her right to be who she is no matter who surrounds her. It is about a girl who comes to realise that it is okay to be who she is and to follow her passion.

As I was reading the story, I could not help but be reminded of the geeks playing Dungeons and Dragons in The Big Bang Theory – a true representation of geekdom and fandom. I enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoy watching the show. I enjoyed reading about the camraderie that develops between the players of the game – and how they learn to support one another.

The story does not only encompass the camaraderie between geeks. It also references online bullying. The internet trolls do affect Cameron and for a moment she believes what they are saying about her. She has to learn that with support from her family and friends, she can overcome the negativity that the online harassment brings. So many our our teens face this problem and it is good to see this in a book.

I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys fandoms and stories about a young person growing into the realisation that they are good enough. This is a book I will pass onto my daughter as I know she will enjoy this read.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 14th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

I absolutely loved The Hating Game by Sally Thorne so when I saw that she had written another novel, 99 Percent Mine, I knew I had to read it.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Women’s Fiction

Blurb: 

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

My thoughts:

When I read 99 Percent Mine, I was looking for a romance and I was not disappointed. I loved this story. Maybe not as much as The Hating Game – but almost as much. I enjoyed that Darcy still loves the man she fell in love when she was younger and yet she had the chance to grow as a person through her adventures. The sparks between her and Jamie are there but not immediately acted upon which makes for a fun story.

The romantic relationship between a man and a woman is not the only relationship spoken about in this novel. We read as well about the relationship between Darcy and her twin brother. The sibling relationship is not the focus of the story but does play a part. It is a relationship that grows – as does any sibling relationship during our lifetime.

99 Percent Mine is a fun story that I curled up with on the sofa and that left me smiling. This lighthearted read is one I will easily reread in a couple of years and highly recommend it if you are looking for a satisfying story that will leave you feeling contented.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 13th in my book pledge for 2019)

Youth Arts Program Exhibition

This year both of my daughters submitted their art work to the Youth Arts Program for the exhibition that takes place every year at the Ontario Legislative Assembly. On Monday evening we attended the opening event. Even though the wind was extremely strong, we bundled up and took the journey to Queen’s Park. It was not hardship for me to do this as I want to support my children in all their efforts in order to encourage them in the pursuit of their dreams. It is a big step for them to put their art out into the world – especially my younger daughter who is not as confident as her big sister.

After the speech given by the First Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, we had the opportunity to look at all the art on display. The art comes from all over Ontario and is produced by children ages 12 – 18. There is some really good art on display. Of course I could not help but smile when I saw my daughters’ work.

Abstract Art by my Eldest Daughter. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

My eldest daughter was disappointed when she saw her art work was placed upside down. She was pleased, however, at having her work displayed in the Legislative Assembly for all visitors to see.

A piece created with markers and pencil. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

My youngest daughter does beautiful work with ink. This was the first time she has submitted work for any event and I was very proud of her courage to do so this year. She was also beaming to see her work on display.Monday evening saw both my husband and I smiling. We are so grateful that our children have the opportunity to shine.

What are you grateful for this week? And what has made you smile?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is part of my weekly gratitude reflection and is linked to Trent’s Weekly Smile challenge.)

Frenzy Presents Spring 2019 Releases

On Sunday morning I woke up excited to attend the Frenzy Presents event happening at the Harper Collins publishing house in Toronto. I love these events not only because everyone attending loves books and reading, but also because I get to hear of new releases and of stories that I would love to read. This event was extra special because both my daughters decided to come along with me. They were curious to see what the events were about and experience a little the vibe that I often enjoy. It is not often that I get to go out with my girls now that they are older teens and so I was pleased that they were willing to spend their Sunday morning with me (if you know any teens, you would know that giving up a Sunday morning sleep-in does not happen too often!).

There are many exciting Young Adult books that are planned to come out in the Spring. There were 8 titles in particular that I am excited to read:

Fantasy fiction is definitely my preferred genre. Add in romance and a little intrigue and I am sold! The Beholder by Annie Bright fits into this category and sounds like something I definitely want to read and will be available 4 June.

I love fairy tale retellings, don’t you? The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter is a Snow White spin-off told from the point of view of the stepmother. The premise sounds interesting and a little unusual. This tale will be available 25 June.

A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause is a story set in the world of high fashion  – a little like The Devil Wears Prada. This novel is a little historical and touches on the theme of deception. I will have to wait until 6 August to read this one.

Both my daughter and I cannot wait to read The Beckoning Shadow  by Katharyn Blair which comes out 2 July. This is a fantasy novel that depicts a human that has some magic and has to fight for her survival. Sounds exciting!

I am a Jane Austen fan and when I heard that Ordinary Girls by Blair Thornburgh was a retelling of Sense and Sensibility, I was in. This contemporary novel is out 4 June.

Last Things by Jacqueline West sounds a little creepy – but intriguing nonetheless. This is one I will definitely head out to pick up on 7 May.

The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven is a contemporary novel that deals with an important issue – bullying. I believe this novel will be an important one for teens who are currently in a bullying relationship. I look forward to seeing what the author discusses in this one on 11 June.

Isn’t the cover of this novel absolutely stunning? It is for this reason that I would open With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo. I am sure this book will attract the eye when it is put on the shelves on 7 May.

The event ended with each blogger receiving a tote bag filled with goodies. I love the pillow slip and will enjoy the tea. I look forward to sharing with you what I think of the ARCs that I received.

Do any of the titles I listed interest you?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

 

Book Review: The Suspect by Fiona Barton

I had heard from various sources that Fiona Barton write excellent stories so when I had the opportunity to read The Suspect, I grabbed it.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Blurb: 

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years since he left home to go traveling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

My thoughts: 

The story is a parent’s nightmare – your child goes missing and the search is out of your control. Even before I started the book, I knew I would be on edge and, while reading the novel I felt that I was. Fiona Barton is skilled at creating suspense and making you want to know more. I could not help but turn the pages – I needed to know what had happened.

The story is told from different points of view which seamlessly blend to create a tale that moves the reader between two countries, as well as between the past and the present. I enjoyed Barton’s storytelling which kept my interest throughout. And the best part is that she kept me guessing (no sooner did I think I knew where the story was going to go, then she surprised me).

I loved The Suspect so much that I know I need to read her previous two novels. I was told that her stories are good – and this one has convinced me!

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 12th in my book pledge for 2019)

Weekend Coffee Share: Ready for the Next Week

Join us for some coffee time!If we were having coffee, I would welcome you in rather late on this Sunday afternoon. It has been a busy weekend and I would welcome a little chat before completing my chores for the day.

If we were chatting, I would tell you that even though the work week was short (Monday was a public holiday), the week was very busy. There seemed so much to do at work – it is almost as if we squeezed five days of work into four. In addition, I had my evaluation on Friday and I was busy getting ready for it in the days leading up to Friday at 10:25am.

Every five years, the teachers in the school board I work for have an evaluation  – which basically means we are observed by the administrator of the school. Our principal came in to observe one of my lessons (I chose to do a language lesson). My students were a lot calmer than usual (though they were not little angels 🙂 ). My principal and I had a chat after school and I explained how I do some things (she is new to the school and therefore does not know how I work). She is going to type up her report and share it with me once she is done.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have just come back home from an event at the Harper Collins Canada Publishing House. Today’s event is the one they hold for bloggers in Ontario and the one at which they tell us about the upcoming new releases in Young Adult fiction. I enjoyed learning about the new books as well as chatting with other readers who love books and share their love through blogging. I am new to their influencer program and am starting to get to know other Canadian book bloggers.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have two events this week to look forward to – one with my daughters, and another one I can attend as a teacher. But that is for the next coffee chat.

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)