Book Review: A Girl's Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate

I had seen reviews of A Girl’s Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate on Instagram which raised my curiosity. I decided to see whether my library had a copy of the book. They did and soon after it arrived for me to read.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Christian Fiction

Blurb:

Samuel Payton is a passionate youth pastor in Virginia, but beneath the surface, Sam’s still recovering from a failed business. His coworker—start-up expert Kimberly Foster—is brilliant, fearless, and capable, but her mother’s rejection from a young age till now has left her defensive and longing for a family. Two people have never been more at odds—or more attracted to one another. And every day at work, the sparks are flying.

When Kimberly’s ambitious plans for Sam’s ministry butt up against his risk-averse nature, Sam decides that obligations to family trump his work for the church. He quits the ministry and flies home to Australia to help his family save their struggling farm—much to Kimberly’s chagrin. As Kimberly’s grand plans flounder, she is forced to face the truth: that no one can replace Sam. To what lengths will she go to get him back?

My thoughts:

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback is a romance written in a 3 person point of view. The pacing throughout the novel keeps the reader interested as the author shares a story about ordinary people. What was different in this romance to others I have read, is the Christian slant to it.

Not only was the story clean (no steamy sex scenes) but it also sent out a very Christian message: to trust in God and to let Him lead you to where you are to go in love and life. The growth of the characters in the story as they come to certain realisations is also linked to their belief in God and to their Christian values. They reach their full potential in the story when they realise they have to completely put their trust in God.

The pacing in the novel was good throughout and there was only one section in the story where I got a little bored: the description of when Kimberley doubted herself – it felt a little repetitive. I enjoyed reading a romance that was focused on the spiritual side of a relationship instead of a physical one and will definitely look out for more stories by this author.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 20th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Bullet Journal: March 2020

During the past week while on our schools are on spring break and we have been practicing social distancing, I have worked on getting my bullet journal up to date. Yesterday while writing in my journal entry for the day, I realised that I had not yet shared my March spreads in this space. I determined to rectify that oversight.

For March I decided to loosely follow the theme created by Amanda Rach Lee, a YouTuber that I follow. I say loosely as I used a different quote to what she chose as well as a different layout for my weekly and monthly spread. As I enjoy reading, I have chosen to write down each month a quote from one of the books I have enjoyed reading. This month, the quote is from Unblemished by Sara Ella, a Young Adult Fantasy novel.

I used the leaf theme Amanda Rach Lee came up with in my monthly spread. While keeping my spread simple, I adapted her idea to suit my requirements. I liked the way she incorporated the leaves into a mood tracker and thought I could create something similar. I used a mood tracker in February and enjoyed filling it in therefore thought I would work on one again this month.

I adjusted the weekly spread and used a format that I have enjoyed using in the past. The spread has been quick and easy for me to recreate each week in March so far. I am loving its simplicity as well as the colours that I used.

Because of the social distancing so many of us are adhering to, the days this week (and next week) are free of plans. I am using the space, though, to keep a record of what I am doing at home as well as my thoughts.

What theme are you using this month in your bullet journal?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to The Escapist Colouring Club. You are welcome to join us and share some colouring work)

Book Review: The Lost Scroll of the Physician by Alisha Sevigny

At the OLA Super Conference, I was able to get a signed copy of The Lost Scroll of the Physician – a middle grade book of the historical fiction genre. The synopsis intrigued me as I have always been interested by the Egyptian period.

Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction

Blurb:

In her search for answers, Sesha must find a priceless scroll for the pharaoh.

Sesha and Ky, children of the pharaoh’s royal physician, are left charming snakes and stealing food to survive after a brutal fire takes their parents and their home.

Unsure of whom to trust, the pair are found and brought back to the palace, despite misgivings that the royals are somehow involved in their parents’ deaths. Sesha is tasked with finding the rare and valuable medical document her father was transcribing for the pharaoh, who needs it urgently for his upcoming campaign.

Befriended by another scribe and a young princess, Sesha must navigate palace intrigue and temple treachery while desperately seeking the priceless scroll that not only has the power to reveal the circumstances around her parents’ death and mitigate any casualties of battle, but may also be the only thing that can save her brother’s life.

My thoughts:

I loved this middle grade book set in ancient Egypt! The language in the novel hasn’t been simplified and includes some beautiful imagery. The metaphors that were used by the author refer perfectly to the time frame of the story.

The Lost Scroll of the Physician is an adventure story and therefore the writing is paced in such a way to encourage the reader to continue reading. Even though the story is set in ancient Egypt, the characters’ experience is relatable to the modern child as they interact with others their age as well as with adults. Sesha finds herself in situations beyond her control and works at changing what she can. She is a strong character that makes the mistakes that children her age often do – but she is able to bounce back from them.

Sevigny has written the perfect adventure story that will get young readers engrossed and committed to the story. The added bonus is that those who are curious about the past will see a snapshot of life in Ancient Egypt. This novel is the first in a series and definitely encourages me to want to read more about Sesha and her sidekick Paser. I know I will be recommending this story to the 8 – 14 years in my life – especially those who enjoy adventure stories.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 19th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Driving Holiday

“Daddy, I want to go there!”

Teddy pulled into the parking lot while Christine jumped eagerly up and down in the back seat. He liked the 50s vibe of the diner and hustled his eager family through the entrance to a corner booth.

“Let’s get milkshakes!”

“And fries, lots of them!”

Teddy smiled at his wife. Spending time together on their driving holiday had reconnected them all – especially as their mobile devices had been left at home. The stop was a perfect addition to their old-fashioned vacation.

The family noisily dived into their meal, their enthusiasm unhampered by selfies.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(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.)

Weekend Coffee Share: Closures

If we were having coffee, I would settle in for a lengthy chat as it has been a while since we got together. February was a difficult month: the school walkouts and picketing in below zero temperatures did take a toll on my physical and mental health. March has led to me recuperating and the strike action to being more school-centred. Negotiations are finally under way and I am crossing my fingers that an agreement is reached soon. We all want to continue doing what we love with no restrictions – working for the best of our students.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that yesterday schools broke for March Break (or spring break as it is known in other places). On Thursday evening I learned that March Break would be extended for another 2 weeks as all publicly-funded schools would close. In addition, yesterday it was announced that all public libraries, public recreation centres, and ministry-owned daycare centres would also be closed for the three week period. In addition, public museums and tourist hotspots would also be closed. My daughters came home last night with the news that their university has closed until the end of the academic school year – and that all their courses will now be online.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I hope all of these closures work at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. What it has certainly caused is a mild panic among some people as some shelves in the supermarket have been cleared of their stock. Hopefully people will soon calm down and realise that these are only preventative measures.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I will be spending March Break a little differently to what I planned. I will not be going to the cinema but still plan to spend some time with my friend. Many events have been cancelled but coffee shops are still open. My daughters will need space to do their work so I will make plans to give it to them.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it is starting to feel like spring and that I am hoping to soon see flowers growing in gardens. The change of season brings a thread of hope into the panic that is currently occuring world-wide

What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

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

School Closures in Ontario

Yesterday evening I was made aware of breaking news: that the schools in Ontario would be shut down for two weeks after March Break to help fight the spread of COVID-19. I was shocked to learn of this decision as there had been no lead-up at all to the decision.

Today is the last day of school before March Break – our week off school before the final stretch of the academic year. I am sure parents are currently scrambling to find daycare for their kids due to the extra two weeks they will be at home. My hope is that companies will not punish parents who need to stay at home. It would be unfair if parents were forced to take leave, or lose a paycheck.

The caretaking staff at the schools are going to take this time to sanitise the environment in addition to the cleanup they usually do doing the Break. I am hoping that the closure doesn’t extend past two weeks – and that they will work. I do not really want to spend more time away from my students.

Has the advent of the COVID-19 virus affected you in any way?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Buddy Read: Little Secrets

At the OLA Super Conference this year, I was fortunate to receive a signed copy of Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier.

On Instagram, I signed up for a buddy read with a group of people who also have the ARC. I had not read this author before and I was looking forward to exploring the novel with them. Last weekend I began my read of the thriller and have found I cannot stop at the required chapter for the discussion – I need to know what will happen!

I passed the halfway mark of the novel yesterday evening and I know I will finish reading the novel by the weekend. I will have to find a way to prevent myself from giving spoilers at this weekend’s online discussion. 🙂

Have you participated in an online buddy read?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

A Decision

Lifting her face, Sara soaked in the absolute peace that surrounded her. The cooling breeze reminded her that the summer days were shortening as was her time here. The unfettered days of her vacation had been a respite from the drudgery of her daily routine and had led to a decision her family would not easily accept. Being the oldest child did not mean she should be the lifetime caregiver of their wheelchair-bound sibling. Either everyone take their turn looking after him; or each person contributes to his care. It was time Sara take back her life.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(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.)

Teaser Tuesday: A Girl’s Guide to the Outback

I follow many readers on Instagram who enjoy posting about the books they read. One person whom I follow wrote a review on A Girl’s Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate. I was intrigued, especially as she said the story had a Christian bent to it.

I enjoyed reading a romance that is unashamedly Christian. Throughout the novel there are references to Christian beliefs and values. There is one line that really stands out for me:

“Letting fear win also means you are refusing to trust God. That’s a slap in the face to Him.” (p333, Thomas Nelson, 2020)

These words can really hit home to the hearts of believers, especially in the light of recent events.

Do you enjoy reading Christian-themed books?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

Book of the Month: February 2020

I managed to read quite a number of books during February. During the month, I participated in five walkouts – which meant that when I got home feeling extremely cold, I made myself a cup of tea and cozied up with a book to warm up. I found myself gravitating towards the more lighthearted reads to keep my spirits up.

During February, I managed to read a total of 11 novels – many of which were 4 and 5 star reads for me. My favourite was an unexpected one: All The King’s Traitors by Keylin Rivers, an independent author. I am excited to read the next book in the series but have to wait until it has been published!

As I move into March and look at my teetering TBR pile, I look forward to some more reading – especially during the spring break.

What was you favourite read in February?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020