Square in September: A Sitting Room in Pink

During our visit to Paris, we spent a day at the Chateau de Versailles, one of the well-known palaces of the Sun King, Louis XIV. When visiting the Grand Trianon, a retreat built by Louis XIV for his mistress at the time, we were not surprised by the opulence of the rooms. One of the sitting rooms was decorated with fabrics of a deep cerise pink.

A sitting room in the Grand Trianon at the Chateau de Versailles. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

One can imagine the King and his mistress, the Marquise de Montespan, entertaining their friends in this room.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge, Square in September. This month we are posting pictures featuring in the pink, i.e., photos featuring the colour pink,  something ‘in the pink’ of health, or those which leave you ‘tickled pink’)


Thursday Doors: Chateau de Vincennes

During our trip to Paris, I wanted my family to see a castle and took them to see the Chateau de Vincennes on the edge of Paris. The last time I visited the building, it was in ruins. In recent years, the site has been fixed using traditional methods.

After passing through the huge entrance doorway, we walked in the courtyard to the ticket office. We passed a number of doors that were more modern but were surrounded by brickwork that was from an age long gone.

We were able to walk up to the wall of the castle and visit some of the rooms that had been opened. The doorway to the worn stairs was small and covered by a wooden door.

The doors leading to the prison were interesting. They were made of wood but had a steel front. The doors made me think of those shows I enjoy watching that are set in the past – or even of the fantasy world in The Game of Thrones.

A door leading to the prison. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

The last stop of our visit was the chapel on the premises. One would assume the church would be small but this Gothic building dominated the people entering it.

The Gothic chapel at the Chateau de Vincennes © Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Our trip to the castle was interesting and even though I had previously visited, I saw a lot more this time round than I had seen on my last trip.

Have you seen the doors at the Chateau de Vincennes?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Norm’s Thursday Doors challenge)

Share Your World: Passion and Equality

NEWSYWbannerAre You A Better Listener or Speaker?

I am definitely a better listener – so much so that I have encountered strangers who felt they could unburden their worries with me. However as I have grown older, I have become better at speaking, especially in front of an audience of more than a couple of people. Speaking in front of people is still not easy and it is not something that I seek out.

If You Were Asked To Design A Warning Label That Would Be Tattooed On Your Skin, What Would It Say? 

Caution! Mature woman at work.

What Are You Passionate About?

The first thing that comes to mind is education. Teaching our younger generations is an important task which includes not only reading, writing and arithmetic but also the socialisation aspect, how to work with others, and how to think critically. Children who have been educated are able to participate in society and feel their worth. There are those in the world who believe that the work of educators can be done by anyone; people who disregard the worth of the lessons learned when younger. To them I say: come do my job for a week; and remember that you would not be in your high paying job today if it were not for the work that educators had in preparing you for your position.

If You Could Change One Thing About Your World, What Would It Be?

That women, as a gender, are treated with respect by all men. They say we have equality, and yet women are paid less than men for doing the same work. They say we have equality, and yet women are expected to work harder at their job to earn the same respect a man has when doing less. They say we have equality, and yet women are the ones who do more in the home. They say we have equality, and yet women are still often treated as second class citizens by some salesmen (yes, men). Yes, there are men out there who treat women with respect – yet there are still those who continue to treat women as the inferior sex.

What Gave You A Reason To Smile This Past Week?

I am relieved that the temperatures have dropped (though I wasn’t too enamoured with the continuous rain yesterday). I no longer have heat rash and I am sleeping much better. This past Summer was brutal weather-wise and I look forward to enjoying the milder Fall temperatures.

What would you answer to any of these questions?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Sparks, the new host of Cee’s Share Your World weekly challenge).

Book Review: The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest

At the Frenzy Presents Event hosted by Harper Collins Canada to which I was invited, I received not only a copy of The Black Witch by Laurie Forest, but also an ARC of the second book in the fantasy tale – The Iron Flower. After reading the first volume of The Black Witch Chronicles, I was eager to read the second and dove right in. I had quickly become a fan of Laurie Forest and was eager to read more on the world she had created, and read the stories of the characters I had come to love.

Genre: young adult, fantasy

Release Date: 18 September 2018


Elloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs, but their actions have propelled them straight into the ranks of the realm-wide Resistance against Gardnerian encroachment. As the Resistance struggles against the harsh rulings of High Priest Marcus Vogel and the Mage Council, Elloren begins to realize that none of the people she cares about will be safe if Gardneria seizes control of the Western Realm.

With tensions heating up in Verpacia, more and more Gardnerian soldiers continue to descend upon the university…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the newly rebuilt Fourth Division base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to wandfast to her, convinced that she has inherited her grandmother’s magic—the prophesied power of the Black Witch. As his very nearness seems to awaken a darkness inside her, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.

Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas Grey, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself.

My Thoughts: 

I absolutely loved the first volume in this epic saga (The Black Witch)  and hoped that Forest would continue with all that I loved of her first novel in the second. I was not disappointed. The representations of the characters I had grown to love were just as rich; the attacks on society just as subtle. The germinating seeds of the Resistance in Elloren as described in the first novel in this series, begin to flower in the second. Our protagonist grows even more as a person in this volume in spite of – or because of – events out of her control.

I do not want to tell you too much of the story as I would not want to spoil it for you. What I will tell you is that Forest’s descriptions of those peopling Gardenia once again entranced me. I could see the detail in my mind as I was reading: the hair and colour of skin, the dress, the beauty enhancements. While reading, I held my breath with Elloren; and my heart raced for her as she worked towards the safety of her friends. I was invested in the story and hoped that the outcome for her and her friends would be a positive one.

I read book 2 of The Black Witch Chronicles in two days over the Labour Day weekend (and the tome is not short). I could not put the book down and immersed myself willingly in a fantasy world filled with dragons, selkies, and fae people. The grandeur of this world is an epic one and one which – when I turned the last page – left me wanting more.

The Iron Flower  by Laurie Forest is an excellent read and a perfect sequel to the first. If you are looking to start a new series, or you are looking for an epic read, I do suggest reading The Black Witch Chronicles – you will not be disappointed.

Review of Book 1: The Black Witch  by Laurie Forest

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

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 60th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Square in September: Pink Blooms in Luxembourg

It is a cold, blustery day today with the threat of rain hanging in the sky. I cannot help but think back on the warm days of summer in Paris and the time I spent with my family. On one of the days we spent in the beautiful city, we went to the Luxembourg gardens to see the park. We loved the beautiful flowers which were a perfect accompaniment to the view of buildings many hundreds of years old.

Looking at the sun-filled and colourful photographs reminds me that summer will come around again in 10 months.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge, Square in September. This month we are posting pictures featuring in the pink, i.e., photos featuring the colour pink,  something ‘in the pink’ of health, or those which leave you ‘tickled pink’)

SoCS: Earworm?

When I saw the word for this week’s prompt, I immediately turned to the dictionary as I did not know what it meant. The first definition I had a vague memory of hearing (short for corn earworm, an American moth caterpillar that is a pest of corn, cotton, and tomatoes). The second definition (a catchy song or tune that runs continually through a person’s mind.) I had not heard of before. I prefer the second definition and chose to share with you the current tune that is running through my head as I am typing my post: Scream by Usher

Today this song was in my mind as I walked to the supermarket and to my exercise class. Even after dancing to some eighties music at my Sha’bam class, Usher’s voice was still singing to me. As walked to my destination, not only was I listening to this song in my head, I was also dancing to it. At moments like these, I imagine moving my arms and legs to the rhythms and the beats and imagining the sensation I would feel if I were physically dancing.

Hopefully tomorrow another song will replace Scream. I do not mind pleasant-sounding earworms. It is annoying, however, when it is a song I do not like – or an advertising jingle that is repetitive or cliched

Do you enjoy earworms? Which song do you have running through your head right now?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Stream of Consciousness SaturdayThe prompt is: resolution

Weekend Coffee Share: First Week Back

Join us for some coffee time!If we were having coffee, I would tell that that the temperature has dropped suddenly by 10 degrees celsius. During the past week it was extremely hot and humid – on Wednesday it was unbearable to be outside at midday. I was lucky, though, as the academic school year had begun and I have air conditioning in my room.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that after the Labour Day holiday on Monday, I met my new group of students for this year. My group consists of fourteen grade 1 students and six grade 2 students. As expected, they were very quiet the first two days. By Friday, however, they were comfortable enough during the activity time to be extremely chatty – now they need to learn to whisper when they are chatting!

The first four days back at school went well. I am still establishing routines and expected behaviours. As each day passes I am getting to know my students and soon I will know what their needs are. I am currently still setting up their notebooks and folders while keeping up with the daily tasks of my job. As always, there are deadlines at this time of year and I will check them off one by one. Each day I have arrived home exhausted – a person forgets how exhausting establishing habits can be.

The First Week Back © Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Yesterday when I locked my classroom door, the room had begun to take on the artistry of the students in my classroom. Bit by bit the walls will look less bare and reflect the children that inhabit it during the day.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that now my weekends will reflect the routines of the school year as well: laundry, grocery shopping, household chores and, of course, Zumba.

I wish you a wonderful week. May it be a positive one.

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)

Share Your World: A Mixed Bag

NEWSYWbannerWhen you are old, what do you think children will ask you to tell stories about?   If you are ‘old’ (a term with different meanings for everyone); what stories do you tell your grandchildren?   

I can imagine my grandchildren asking about the country where I was born and asking me to tell them stories about my childhood growing up in an African country. Of course they would always enjoy stories about when their parent was young; and of when they, themselves, were babies. The children would soon learn that I love to read and so would always ask me to read to them – which I would willingly do with pleasure.

When did something start out badly for you but in the end, it was great?

The biggest thing I can think of that began badly is moving to another country. In the beginning it was difficult to adapt and to survive financially – I did not think we would make it. Finding work was difficult and we had no support from family. However once I was certified and able to obtain work as a teacher, things did improve. Now I am teaching at a wonderful school in a great community and now believe all the hardship was worth it. I have a lot more resources and support as a teacher here in Toronto than I ever did in South Africa – and I am paid better here than I ever was in my home country.

What do you think you are much better at than you actually are?   Maybe this one’s kinda mean…thoughts?  

As you grow older you become more realistic about your own abilities – and more sure on what you are good at. I tend to know what I do well, what I am mediocre at, and what I should avoid doing.

What would be the worst thing to hear as you are going under anesthesia before surgery?

“This one is a difficult case!”

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  

As you all know, the new school academic year here in Ontario, Canada began this past Tuesday. Yesterday I began teaching the children how centres work in my room. My aim is to have them work independently through the all activities that I have set out. In my room students are able to choose which activities to do first and are encouraged to monitor themselves. The first day was successful with most of them completing all tasks by the end of the day. Definitely something to smile about.

What would you answer to any of these questions?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Sparks, the new host of Cee’s Share Your World weekly challenge).

Book Review: The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to the Frenzy Presents event organised by Harper Collins Canada publishing house. This is an event to which book bloggers are invited to be introduced to upcoming young adult fiction.

The guest author at the event was Laurie Forest, the writer of The Black Witch. I had not read her debut novel and was interested to hear her speak as she wrote my favourite genre, fantasy fiction. When she told us that social injustice had inspired her novel, I was eager to begin reading.

Genre: young adult fiction, fantasy


Elloren Gardner is the splitting image of her famous grandmother, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces in the last Realm War. But while her people, the Gardnerians, believe she will follow Carnissa as the next Black Witch of the prophesy, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.

My thoughts: 

From the first page, I knew I would enjoy this fantasy tale. My introduction to Elloren, the protagonist, is immediate. Her relationships with other characters are described through authentic dialogue; and her environment is introduced to us not only through description but also through her reaction to it. The world of Gardenia is introduced to us slowly as we read the text. Not only are we introduced to the physical world, but the social world as well. We slowly come to understand the social hierarchy of Laurie Forest’s created world; as well as the customs (such as wandfasting).

The attention to detail in this novel is amazing and takes on an epic quality. The various characters are neatly interwoven within the story – everything connecting to Elloren, the lead of the story. As Elloren experiences a new life at the University, we see her grow in understanding of her environment and of the social injustices that exist in her world. The Black Witch is not only the story of a young girl experiencing education at a university – it is a story highlighting the prejudice and the injustices that are found in society. Forest refers to the subjugation of women, the inequality between races, the prejudice that exists against those who are homosexual.

I enjoyed reading The Black Witch  for so many reasons. It is well written. The story takes me into a fantasy land that allows me to use my imagination. The novel is a reflection of what we see in our present modern world and, while reading, my mind was constantly making connections and reflecting on what I was reading and what exists in the world. I felt I was an active reader. Lastly, I love stories that are epic tales – and The Black Witch is of this ilk

If you enjoy fantasy fiction and detailed sagas, The Black Witch by Laurie Forest is a must-read!

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 5 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 59th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Grateful for Classroom Space

Yesterday was the first day of the school academic year and, as I walked into my work space, I felt a sense of satisfaction. The room was ready to receive my students: everything was neatly laid out and the room was not cluttered. The space was ready to come to life with young children’s bodies and the presentation of their work.

The first day of school went well. The students’ presence has not yet impacted on the room; but that will come with time. This week I am grateful to have a pleasant space to work in with my students as the classroom environment, I believe, does have a subtle effect on behaviour and learning.

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

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018