A Sunday Stroll

Over the weekend I accompanied my cousin to the Toronto Botanical Gardens for a walk. I have been to the gardens a number of times and, while there, have always admired the flowers and the feeling of being surrounded by nature. In one of the flowerbeds in the gardens, we saw a message had been planted to encourage people to stay safe during the COVID-19 crisis.

Not all of my time, however, was spent walking among the pristine gardens. The enjoyable part of the walk is when we pass the streams and untamed parts of the trail.

I love listening to the sound of trickling water and the sound of life near the water. I also enjoy seeing the wild flowers that grow near the edge of the streams.

The sight is really beautiful to behold and always lifts my spirits. Even the steel frames of man-made bridges are made to look beautiful.

Our walk ended as we moved through the controlled gardens once again. The beauty of the flowers may be contained, but they are a sight to behold nonetheless.

I enjoyed our late afternoon walk in the gardens. I am sure that we will go back soon another time.

Do you enjoy strolling through gardens?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge on differing perspectives and Jo’s Monday Walk )

Last-Now-Next: 29 July 2020

My previous read was The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza: the second book in the mystery series featuring DCI Erika Foster. I enjoyed the novel and appreciated, especially, the unusual murder story and the sassy, no-nonsense detective. This was the third novel I had read by this author and he is now definitely on my authors-to-read list.

I am currently reading The Lightness of Hands by Jeff Garvin. This novel is a YA contemporary story that features the life of travelling magicians. The important part of this novel is that it centres on mental health issues and self-harm. It is an important story to be out there – though I do find it a little predictable.

At the moment I am binge watching Chinese marshal arts films on Netflix. I love watching the fight scenes as I find the choreography and strength of the fighters beautiful. I am definitely in the right frame of mind to read the autobiography Bruce Lee by Mathew Polly. My husband (who is a huge Bruce Lee fan) has read this title and enjoyed it and have decided to spend time with this book. I hope I will enjoy it as much as he did.

What are you planning on reading next?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

A Haircut For Some Me Time

On Wednesday I went to the hairdresser for a much needed haircut. I was going to wait until mid-August and a few weeks before going back to school. However my hair was getting too long and the weight of it was starting to bother me.

The stylist cut quite a bit of hair from my head – over six months of growth. She layered my hair to make it thinner and lighter – and it feels so much better.

I asked my daughter to snap a quick picture of me – which turned into a lengthy photo shoot as she changed my position a number of times in order to get a photo without shadows on my face.

One of the last photos she took is a perfect picture. I like the background too as it shows the perspective of the city that I see everyday.

When is the last time you went for a haircut?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge on differing perspectives and the Six Word Saturday challenge)

Friday Feature: Serenity Harbour by RaeAnne Thayne

One of the titles I picked up from the library is by one of my favourite romance writers, RaeAnne Thayne. Serenity Harbour had been on my wishlist for a while and I thought now would be the perfect time to pick it up and read it.

The story takes place in Haven Point and centres on two characters named Bowie Callahan, a computer tech millionaire, and Katrina Bailey, a schoolteacher.

Bo is struggling to look after his young half brother, Milo, while settling into a new job. Kat is willing to help him with the care of the child because working with Milo will give her the money to get closer towards her goal of adopting an orphaned girl.

I enjoyed this read that hints at autism and special needs children. I also enjoyed the personality of all the characters – it made the story more enjoyable to me. Serenity Harbour was a perfect read for me this past week as it was not too intense and ended with a positive note.

Have you read any titles by ReaAnne Thayne?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novels was the 101th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: His & Hers by Alice Feeney

As you know, I have recently joined Netgalley and I was excited to learn that they have started to offer audiobooks to read and review. When I saw His & Hers by Alice Feeney on offer, I requested it – and was excited to see my request accepted. The synopsis suggested an intense story.

Format: Audiobook

Publication Date: 28 July 2020

Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Mystery

Blurb:

There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.

Anna Andrews finally has what she wants. Almost. She’s worked hard to become the main TV presenter of the BBC’s lunchtime news, putting work before friends, family, and her now ex-husband. So, when someone threatens to take her dream job away, she’ll do almost anything to keep it.

When asked to cover a murder in Blackdown–the sleepy countryside village where she grew up–Anna is reluctant to go. But when the victim turns out to be one of her childhood friends, she can’t leave. It soon becomes clear that Anna isn’t just covering the story, she’s at the heart of it.

DCI Jack Harper left London for a reason, but never thought he’d end up working in a place like Blackdown. When the body of a young woman is discovered, Jack decides not to tell anyone that he knew the victim, until he begins to realise he is a suspect in his own murder investigation.

One of them knows more than they are letting on. Someone isn’t telling the truth. Alternating between Anna’s and Jack’s points of view, His & Hers is a fast-paced, complex, and dark puzzle that will keep listeners guessing until the very end.

My Thoughts:

His & Hers is a story written in a 2 person POV (point of view) and is narrated as such by two performers: Richard Armitage and Stephanie Racine. Their work is amazing and their narration encouraged me to keep listening. Their tone, pace, and pitch were perfect. Their voices drew me in and kept me engaged. The British accents suited the story as it dos take place in London and a small British village.

Not only did I enjoy the narration, the story also grabbed my attention and kept it. The author, Alice Feeney, is new to me and she definitely converted me to her work. Her story kept me interested throughout: her pacing is good and she left clues and tidbits throughout the story, encouraging me to try and solve the mystery. Often I felt I had guessed the outcome – and was confident with my thought processes. Yet she still managed to surprise me in the end! I loved that.

If you enjoy smart and twisty psychological thrillers that will keep you guessing, this novel is for you. If audiobooks are not your preference, reading the story would still be enjoyable as the images created in your mind with the author’s words would still be effective.

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

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novels was the 100th novel in my book pledge for 2020 – can you believe it?!)

Book Review: Shine by Jessica Jung

When my Kindle Paperwhite finally arrived (after being sent back to the factory undelivered), I had a difficult time connecting it to the WiFi. After struggling with it, I turned to help: from my daughter and some YouTube videos. Finally we got the device connected and I could read the first e-ARC that I had been approved for on Netgalley.

Publication Date: 29 September 2020

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Blurb:

What would you give for a chance to live your dreams?

For seventeen-year-old Korean American Rachel Kim, the answer is almost everything. Six years ago, she was recruited by DB Entertainment—one of Seoul’s largest K-pop labels, known for churning out some of the world’s most popular stars. The rules are simple: Train 24/7. Be perfect. Don’t date. Easy right?

Not so much. As the dark scandals of an industry bent on controlling and commodifying beautiful girls begin to bubble up, Rachel wonders if she’s strong enough to be a winner, or if she’ll end up crushed… Especially when she begins to develop feelings for K-pop star and DB golden boy Jason Lee. It’s not just that he’s charming, sexy, and ridiculously talented. He’s also the first person who really understands how badly she wants her star to rise.

Get ready as Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of Korea’s most famous girl group, Girls Generation, takes us inside the luxe, hyper-color world of K-pop, where the stakes are high, but for one girl, the cost of success—and love—might be even higher. It’s time for the world to see: this is what it takes to SHINE.

My Thoughts:

I chose to read this young adult novel because it features K-pop – music which often plays in our home. My daughter often shares the new music with me – and shows me the amazing dance videos. The storyline of Shine also intrigued me and I was curious to read some background to this popular music.

I loved this story: the K-pop references, the hint of romance, the family connection, and especially the growth of a young girl into a confident young woman who learns to take what she wants in the world she has chosen.

Yung paints a realistic picture of the K-pop world. She shows us what it takes to succeed; and she shows us the inequality that exists between the sexes. Her well written story grabbed my interest from the first few pages and kept it until the end.

This novel is the perfect read for those who love Korean music. It is also a suitable read for for young girls looking for a read that embraces a young woman coming into her own.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novels was the 95th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Chocolate Fruit

A friend of mine has a YouTube channel, Under 300 Calories, on which she posts nutritious recipes. Her most recent post inspired me to follow her instructions and make my own chocolate fruit:

I purchased ripe cherries and baking chocolate as well as fresh strawberries. I decided to take the opportunity to cover some of these berries in chocolate as my daughter does love eating them like this.

My friend melts her chocolate in the microwave but I prefer melting mine in a bain marie on the stove. I feel I have more control over the chocolate this way – and I have less chance of burning it!

I washed my fruit carefully before drying each piece with a paper towel. I decided to take the pits out of the cherries and followed the advice given in the video.

Using the technique described by my friend, I covered the fruit in chocolate. I lay the pieces straight onto the pan as I did not have parchment paper. Next time, though, I will have to purchase a roll as it would make it easier to take the cooled down chocolaty fruit off of the pan.

As expected, the chocolate covered strawberries were a delicious treat after supper. But the cherries were even more so. This is definitely a treat worth taking the time to make – and I will certainly make them again.

Do you enjoy chocolaty fruit treats?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge on differing perspectives)

Book Review: May Day by Josie Jaffrey

I have enjoyed Josie Jaffrey’s writing in the past and when she was looking for reader’s to review her latest novel, May Day, I sent in my application. I was happy to be accepted and read the novel as soon as it had arrived.

Genre: Fantasy

Blurb:

If the murderer you’re tracking is a vampire, then you want a vampire detective. Just maybe not this one.

It’s not that Jack Valentine is bad at her job. The youngest member of Oxford’s Seekers has an impressive track record, but she also has an impressive grudge against the local baron, Killian Drake.
When a human turns up dead on May Morning, she’s determined to pin the murder on Drake. The problem is that none of the evidence points to him. Instead, it leads Jack into a web of conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the country, people to whom Jack has no access. But she knows someone who does.
To get to the truth, Jack will have to partner up with her worst enemy. As long as she can keep her cool, Drake will point her to the ringleaders, she’ll find the murderer and no one else will have to die.
Body bags on standby.

May Day is the first book in Josie Jaffrey’s Seekers series, an urban fantasy series set in Oxford, England. 

My Thoughts:

I have enjoyed Jaffrey’s vampire stories in the past and looked forward to reading this one which is a little different from her usual as it describe the case of a Seeker – otherwise known as a detective. The author blends perfectly the world of solving a mystery with that of a vampire story. The mystery part of the novel was so well done that I often forgot that I was reading a vampire story!

Jack Valentine is the star of the novel – and I love her! She is sassy, brash, and takes no nonsense. I enjoyed seeing a strong female character in the story – one who makes mistakes and does her best to fix them. Another character that I enjoyed was Killian Drake. I hope to see more of him in other stories alongside Valentine as the connection between the two of them makes for interesting reading.

As with all the other vampire novels that Jaffrey has published, May Day is a well written story with pacing that has been perfectly pitched. I was thankful that I read this one while on break as there was no need for me to begin working. Instead, I was able to sit on the sofa and complete this story in one sitting.

If you enjoy detective stories and are curious to see how vampires would fit into this scenario, pick up a copy of May Day. You may be surprised by how much you love it.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novels was the 89th novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Some Plant Colour

Four years ago my family gave me a beautiful flowering plant (name unknown) for Mother’s Day. The plant has not flowered since, but I have enjoyed seeing its beauty everyday in my living room.

About a week ago, I noticed a little red amongst the green and was excited to see that my pot plant was about to show a little colour.

The flower has unfurled and is small – smaller than the ones the plant had when it was gifted to me. However, I am excited to see that after so long, the plant finally has bloomed.

As I sit on the sofa or at the dining table, I look over and cannot help but smile at its presence.

I am not sure how long the flower will last – or if another one will eventually show. What I do know is that I will enjoy it for the time it is present.

Do you have any flowering pot plants?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge on differing perspectives and Trent’s Weekly Smile.)

A Mouthwatering Dinner

My daughters love roti. The few times we ate it while they were growing up, I had bought them from the supermarket – or we had taken an hour bus ride to buy it from the store that sells homemade ones. During the imposed COVID-19 isolation, my husband tried to make some but he did not get it quite right. Now that I am on a school break, I decided that I would try to remember how to make them (before marrying, I used to make them all the time). After checking ratios with my mom, I set about mixing the flour and butter with water to make the dough. After rolling the dough and cutting it into small pieces, I set it aside for a while before frying.

As I rolled out the dough, I tried to remember how hot the plate should be for cooking. I tried different levels until I realised that a medium-high heat is perfect.

I made the balls for the roti small as my frying pan is not large. The small size fit perfectly and I knew that the entire surface would be browned. Once all the roti were cooked, I set them aside and handed the kitchen over to my husband to make the curry.

The chicken curry he made with the right blend of spices was absolutely mouthwatering. And my roti? With some more practice, I will unlock all my memories and make them perfectly flaky. They did taste good, however, and were deliciously soft.

Or dinner last night was perfect even though we didn’t have quite enough roti to eat. Next time I will definitely make more!

Do you enjoy eating roti with curry?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

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