Book Review: Man of War by Sean Parnell

Harper Collins Canada sent me an ARC of Sean Parnell’s debut fiction novel Man of War to review. I enjoy reading thrillers and this one’s blurb sounded a little like the Davis Baldacci novels that I had read.

Genre:  Thriller, Military Fiction

Blurb: 

Eric Steele is the best of the best—an Alpha—an elite clandestine operative assigned to a US intelligence unit known simply as the “Program.” A superbly trained Special Forces soldier who served several tours fighting radical Islamic militants in Afghanistan, Steele now operates under the radar, using a deadly combination of espionage and brute strength to root out his enemies and neutralize them.

But when a man from Steele’s past attacks a military convoy and steals a nuclear weapon, Steele and his superiors at the White House are blindsided. Moving from Washington, DC, to the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, Steele must use his considerable skills to hunt this rogue agent, a former brother-in-arms who might have been a friend, and find the WMD before it can reach the United States—and the world is forever changed

My thoughts:

While reading the first chapter, I was reminded of the action movies that my husband loves to watch. The reader is placed immediately into the action – and the movement forward does not stop. As with those action movies that most men enjoy watching, the novel includes scenes which feature guns, others which feature violence, and those which feature the hard side of life. The protagonist, Eric Steele, is described as a true soldier who is loyal to his country. His ability to do unspeakable things is tempered by his morality to help others in need, even at the cost of his own life. Eric Steele is a character that a reader can stand behind and cheer as he moves towards saving the many.

Even though I do not read (or watch) many war stories, I did enjoy this thriller. Man of War is more than just a military story. This fast-paced novel that encourages the reader to think ahead and try to work out how the soldier extraordinaire will outwit his enemy. The scenes described were authentic and reflected the knowledge of the author (who is ex-military himself). I recommend this story for those who enjoy fast-paced thrillers and action-filled stories.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 72nd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

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A Pumpkin Gallery

In preparation for the school’s fundraiser, each class created a pumpkin to celebrate Halloween. The children loved participating in this activity – and enjoyed looking at the contributions even more. This year the pumpkins were a lot better than what was created last year (this is the second year we are doing this).

The pumpkins have now been bought by families so they are no longer gracing the front foyer of our school and are instead being enjoyed in homes or on porches.

Which is your favourite?

Weekly Smile #WeeklySmile© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post was inspired by Trent’s Weekly Smile, a challenge which focuses on sharing all things positive.)

Book Review: Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

I was talking books with a colleague of mine and she mentioned her favourite author, B. A. Paris. The next day she handed me the copies of her books to read and I decided to begin with the first one, Behind Closed Doors.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Psychological Thriller

Blurb: 

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

My thoughts:

While reading this novel, I agreed with my colleague. This novel is full of suspense and twists. I loved it! The story is given to the reader slowly and each crumb of information takes the reader down a different thought process. I enjoyed that the novel kept me guessing right up until the end.

While reading this story, I thought about how we present a different scenario to the world than the one we experience. As outsiders, we can never really know the intimate details of what happens in a person’s life and in their relationships. As this novel indicates, we can only really know what people decide to tell us. The novel also suggests the theme of domestic abuse – and how this may present itself in different ways. Behind Closed Doors is an interesting way to encourage us to think about these issues.

I enjoyed this psychological thriller by B. A. Paris and look forward to reading the next one on the pile next to my bed. This novel is definitely a page turner and I managed to complete it in one day.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 73rd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Weekly Smile: An Unexpected Note

The beginning of the school year is always the same – busy during every moment of the day. All the teachers are focused on getting to know the new children in their class, setting up routines, preparing for lessons, and (right now) thinking about assessment and reporting. We have a new principal and she slipped this little note of appreciation into our box:

Not sure what s’mores are? They are a sweet snack made up of a toasted marshmallow and chocolate bar sandwiched between graham crackers. The treat is called a s’mores as you will want more once you have tasted it.

I love the pun in the note. As I have come to realise, the new leader at our school has quite a sense of humour.

What has made you smile this week?

Weekly Smile #WeeklySmile© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post was inspired by Trent’s Weekly Smile, a challenge which focuses on sharing all things positive.)

Book Review: If Not For You by Debbie Macomber

I decided that it was time to read some of the novels that I had picked up at the library sale. I had read a Debbie Macomber story before and decided that If Not For You would be a perfect Saturday afternoon read.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary fiction

Blurb: 

If not for her loving but controlling parents, Beth Prudhomme might never have taken charge of her life and moved from her native Chicago to Portland, Oregon, where she s reconnected with her spirited Aunt Sunshine and found a job as a high school music teacher. If not for her friend Nichole, Beth would never have met Sam Carney, although first impressions have left Beth with serious doubts. Sam is everything Beth is not and her parents worst nightmare: a tattooed auto mechanic who s rough around the edges. Reserved and smart as a whip, Beth isn’t exactly Sam s usual beer-drinking, pool-playing type of woman, either.

But if not for an awkward setup one evening, Beth might never have left early and been involved in a car crash. And if not for Sam who witnessed the terrifying ordeal, rushed to her aid, and stayed with her until help arrived Beth might have been all alone, or worse. Yet as events play out, Sam feels compelled to check on Beth almost daily at the hospital even bringing his guitar to play songs to lift her spirits. Soon their unlikely friendship evolves into an intense attraction that surprises them both.

Before long, Beth’s strong-willed mother, Ellie, blows into town spouting harsh opinions, especially about Sam, and reopening old wounds with Sunshine. When shocking secrets from Sam s past are revealed, Beth struggles to reconcile her feelings. But when Beth goes a step too far, she risks losing the man and the life she s come to love.

My thoughts:

For all those of you who have been on a blind date, you can sympathise with the characters when their blind date turns awkward. Their blind date, however, does lead to a romance albeit in a different way. The novel describes a love that slowly grows over a period of time, including all the misconceptions that a new romance does experience.

Even though I have enjoyed a previous novel by Debbie Macomber, this one was slow going for me. As I tried to pinpoint what I did not like about it, I thought about the writing style. The voice of Macomber appears too strongly for me. She explains too much instead of leaving it to the reader to use their own experience to decipher the characters’ experiences. As a result, the story did not flow easily; and the author’s voice distracted me from enjoying the budding romance between Beth and Sam. Is this Macomber’s writing style? I cannot remember and would need to read another of her novel’s soon in order to verify whether it is.

If you can see past the writing style in this novel, this book is a perfect quick read to while away a lazy afternoon.

I give this novel ⭐⭐ 2 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 71st in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Music Monday: Halloween

Halloween is drawing near and the children at school are beginning to show their excitement. Discussions centre around costumes, trick-or-treating, and candy. There are two songs that the children enjoy singing and dancing along to. The first is The Monster Mash:

And an all-time favourite is C’est l’Halloween by Matt Maxwell. Halloween at our school wouldn’t be the same without singing this 🙂

Only a few more days and the children will be dressed up in costumes and eating too much candy. And then we will move onto different songs in class.

Do you have memories connected to these songs?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Book Review: When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen

At the Frenzy Presents event organised by Harper Collins Canada for bloggers, I received an ARC of the book When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen. I always enjoy historical fiction, and the touch of romance was an added bonus.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Romance

Blurb: 

It’s 1871 and Emmeline Carter is poised to take Chicago’s high society by storm. Between her father’s sudden rise to wealth, and her recent engagement to Chicago’s most eligible bachelor, Emmeline has it all. But she can’t stop thinking about the life she left behind, including her childhood sweetheart, Anders Magnuson. Fiona Byrne, Emmeline’s childhood best friend, is delighted by her friend’s sudden rise to prominence, especially since it means Fiona is free to pursue Anders herself. But when Emmeline risks everything for one final fling with Anders, Fiona feels completely betrayed.

As the summer turns to fall, the city is at a tipping point: friendships are tested, hearts are broken, and the tiniest spark might set everything ablaze. Sweeping, soapy, and romantic, this is a story about an epic love triangle—one that will literally set the city ablaze, and change the lives of three childhood friends forever.

My thoughts:

The historical aspects of this novel interested me – Chicago’s Great Fire and the possible causes of it. The fire raged over a number of days, killing people and leaving many homeless. The reference to this event in Godbersen’s novel, however, is minimal which, for me, was disappointing. The novel instead centres on the love triangle between three friends since childhood: Emmeline, Fiona, and Anders. There were some moments during the novel, especially in the beginning, when my attention wandered from their story. The description of their relationship was a little too repetitive and, at these moments, I wished for the novel to move forward.

The story did become more interesting to me when the historical aspect of the novel was introduced. The Fire changes the relationship between the three – and also helps the women (Emmeline and Fiona) realise a little about who they are and what their own relationship with one another means to them. I enjoyed the second half of the novel more than I did the first -it was definitely the saving grace of the book for me.

This novel was written for those who enjoy romance stories – more so than for those who enjoy historical fiction. As a Young Adult fiction novel, the sexual relationship described is not explicit and focuses instead on the feelings of the two women in the love triangle.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 70th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Thursday Doors: Made Up For Halloween

With Halloween coming closer, I decided to decorate my classroom door to get into the spirit of the day. Taking down my boxes, I took out some webbing which I thought could hide a spider. The “Do Not Enter” tape was perfect to add to an aura of spookiness. An inspiring thought led me to getting the children to make ghosts containing their own faces.

The children and I love our door. I will be sorry to take down the door decorations next week after 31 October.

Have you seen any Halloween doors?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

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

Weekend Coffee Share: A Fall Week

Join us for some coffee time!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it definitely feels like Fall. The temperatures is consistently staying lower and I have had to wear coat and gloves when going outside. Inside our apartment it has also been cold. After complaining, however, the problem has been fixed and now we are warm and toasty in our home.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am enjoying the Fall colours. Even though I live in the city, there are places where I can see the beautiful colours in the trees. One of the spots is in our school yard. This week, I went outside with the children and they spent some time searching for leaves so that they could work on an in class project. They had such fun searching for a variety and, once the bin was filled, they had extra time to play outside in the crisp air.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Wednesday I took a break from the classroom and attended a teacher’s workshop on guided reading. Guided reading is an area I want to work on this year as it is so important to get he children reading. Our school board has a vision of getting all grade 1s reading by the end of the year – which is why the grade 1 teachers have been given guided reading tables and are being sent on workshops. The session on Wednesday was a little disappointing as they spoke on the Daily 5 – something which I am already implementing in my classroom. I have been promised that the second session will be more of what I want. I will attend it with my grade 1 teacher colleagues next month.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last night I went to another author talk presented by the Toronto International Author Festival, and that I will attending another this evening. I am really enjoying these sessions and will definitely attend more next year.

If we were having coffee, I would be saying goodbye. It has just gone past 11am and I need to get ready for my exercise class. When I get back I will work a little on some book reviews before going to the author event. My read books have been piling up and I haven’t had a chance yet to sit at my computer and write down my thoughts on these book. Tomorrow it is my intention to complete my report cards as they are due on Tuesday.

If we were  having coffee, I would wish you a wonderful weekend – and a Happy Halloween. 🎃👻😈

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)

Grateful for Toronto International Festival of Authors

Last weekend I realised, once again, how lucky I am to be living in the city of Toronto. Because I live in this metropolis, I am able to attend events such as the Toronto International Festival of Authors.

On Friday, we went to the first event that we had booked – In Conversation with Miriam Toews. I have not read any of her books but I was intrigued by the synopsis of her latest novel Talking Women. The hall was filled to the brim and I was pleased we had arrived early to get a seat near the front. The talk with the author was interesting (she had grown up in a Mennonite community) and, as she spoke about the story of Mennonite women deciding what to do after a group rape, I knew that I would read her novel.

The second event that we attended last weekend was a panel discussion featuring Kelley Armstrong, Michael Robotham, and Amy Stuart. My cousin had chosen this event as Michael Robotham is one of his favourite authors while I was interested to listen to Amy Stuart (I had read her latest novel Still Water). The panel discussion was riveting and I loved how different (and yet at times similar) the authors answered the questions. I could have listened to them for longer and was disappointed when the time was up.

This week I am grateful for the Toronto International Festival of Authors. The festival has given me the opportunity to listen to some well-known authors – those from Canada as well as those from other countries.

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

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018