No Change

She was always the life of the party: moving from group to group, laughing and dancing the night away.

The accident left her paralysed from the waist down. People mourned her lack of movement. “She will not be able to dance!” they said. “She will loose her zest for life,” they said.

They did not know that nothing would get her down – certainly not the accident that derailed her life.

She is still the life of the party. The difference now is that her life-long partner is obliged to participate in her party antics while wheeling her about the room.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(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.)

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Book Review: Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

My daughter volunteers for a Youth programme at our local public library. One evening she came home with a handful of ARCs that she had been offered by the librarian. One of them was Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott. She graciously allowed me to read it first. 🙂

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

My thoughts:

I absolutely loved this emotional read – so much more than I expected I would!

Stella Grant has cystic fibrosis and, as a result, has spent a lot of time in hospitals. Will Newman arrives on her wing and, because he has been diagnosed with B. cepacia, he has to remain six feet apart from Stella so that he doesn’t infect her. However, Stella wants to get to know Will better and begins a campaign to spend time with him. A romance begins between the two of them; a romance which will have you reaching for the kleenex!

Not only did I enjoy the young – and forbidden – romance between the two teens, I also learned about cystic fibrosis. This is a disease that is not often mentioned in mainstream society. The descriptions of the disease in the novel led me to confirm symptoms and treatment online. I love it when I learn something new from a novel that I am reading. And I like that teens are the ones reading about this in their stories.

Five Feet Apart is a heartfelt story that describes young love and the sacrifices that are made for that love. The interaction between the two teens is written with sensitivity and really tugs at your heartstrings. It is a well-written story that you will remember for a long time after you have finished reading it. I recommend this read for both young and old.

Five Feet Apart is one novel you will not regret picking up!

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars without reservation.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 80th in my book pledge for 2019)

Frenzy Presents: Fall 2019

On Sunday after lunch, I headed out to an event that I have always enjoyed in the past – the event for the young adult upcoming releases organised by Harper Collins Canada. Upon my arrival, I was greeted by some of the people who work for the publishing house. At each event, I am always warmly received by our hosts and it certainly encourages me to attend frequently.

Many of the upcoming releases look exciting! The ones that interest me are the fantasy novels and there are many that look promising.:

  1. Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron. This is a high fantasy novel written by a debut author.
  2. Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin. Another debut featuring a French inspired fantasy. Anything French and I am in!
  3. Treason of Thorns by Laura E. Weymouth. This is an alternate history fantasy set in 1800s England.
  4. Memory Thief by Laureen Mansy. A romance set in a fantasy world.
  5. The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli. This is the third novel in her series.
  6. Crown of Oblivion by Julie Eshbaugh. A fantasy fiction with similarities to The Amazing Race.
  7. The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco. A fantasy that focuses on climate change.
  8. The End and Other Beginnings by Veronica Roth. A collection of futuristic short stories.

I look forward to seeing what other bloggers and bookstagrammers think of these stories – though I am sure that I will be pre-ordering some of these without their input! There are also a couple of novels that are not fantasy stories that I am interested in reading:

  1. Suggested Reading by Dave Connis. This novel is about a bookworm who fights back when her school censors a number of meaningful books.
  2. Verify by Joelle Charbonneau. The first of the duology centres on information restriction and censorship.
  3. Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen. The main characteer in this romance takes her advice from Jane Austen novels. As an Austen fan myself, this book is a must for me to read!

At the event, we also had the opportunity to hear Jamin Kaur speak and read some of her poetry from her upcoming release When You Ask Me Where I’m Going.

Her poetry is powerfully written and her words gave me chills.

We were each lucky enough to receive a signed ARC of her upcoming release. I look forward to reading her words.

Upon leaving the event, each person who attended was given a swag bag which contained three ARCs of the upcoming releases. When I peeked into mine, I gave an inner squeal of delight when I saw what I had received – a couple of the books were what I had wanted to read.

As always the event had me smiling – during and after. I have placed the books I received on the top of my TBR and will read them in the next few weeks while sipping the tea that was dropped into my swag bag.

What has made you smile this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

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

Book Review: Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry

As the next Frenzy Presents event was approaching, I thought I would focus on reading the rests of the ARCs that I had received at the previous one. Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry was one of them.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary

Blurb:

Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in.

Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.

Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by.

One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt. 

My thoughts:

Hello Girls is a story about two young women who go on a road trip and, in doing so, find out more about themselves and their inner strength. Winona finds the courage to be herself and to explore the person that she wants to be; Lucille finds the ability to give herself permission to live her own life unencumbered by feelings of guilt and duty.

The start of this novel was a little slow for me. The beginning of the story sets the stage for the road trip and is slow-paced. The storyline at this point is also a little predictable. Once Winona and Lucille begin their road trip, however, the pace picks up a little. It is then that the reader will begin to see a some character development as the girls begin to explore who they are.

For me, the novel became interesting about mid-way. The main characters were exploring who they were and, with mistakes along the way, they were discovering the type of people they want to be. Hello Girls is a coming of age novel of young women who become self-assured and who learn that they can depend on themselves to plan their life path.

Hello Girls is a perfect novel for a teen who is thinking about the type of person they want to be. This story shows that you can change the track your life is on – all it takes is courage and the support of a friend someone who is close to you.The saving grace of the novel, for me, was the second half of the novel. It is the second half that kept me reading to the end.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 79th in my book pledge for 2019)

Music Monday: Don’t You Forget About Me

As I was writing my book review for Mahairi McFarlene’s book Don’t You Forget About Me, I could not help but remember the song created by Simple Minds in the eighties. I used to love this song and always sang along with it when it was played on the radio. I remember, as well, watching the video repeatedly (back them we used to record the videos of our favourite songs to play again on afternoons spent with our friends).

And of course, one can’t forget to mention the iconic film The Breakfast Club for which the song was used.

Don’t You Forget About Me is definitely a song that brings back memories of a time period in my life: of my teenage years and all that comes with.

Don you remember this song? What memories does it bring back?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(Link your Music Monday post to this one so we can share our love of music.)

Book Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

I was in the mood for a romantic comedy so I picked up the ARC of the novel I had received at the OLA Super Conference: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane. Whenever I looked at the title of this story when I read it, I could not help but start singing the song by Simple Minds of the same title. 🙂

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

If there’s one thing worse than being fired from the grottiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else.

Reeling from the indignity of a double dumping on the same day, Georgina snatches at the next job that she’s offered – barmaid in a newly opened pub, which just so happens to run by the boy she fell in love with at school: Lucas McCarthy. And whereas Georgina (voted Most Likely to Succeed in her school yearbook) has done nothing but dead-end jobs in the last twelve years, Lucas has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but also has turned into an actual grown-up with a business and a dog along the way.

Meeting Lucas again not only throws Georgina’s rackety present into sharp relief, but also brings a dark secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows the truth about what happened on the last day of school, and why she’s allowed it to chase her all these years…

My thoughts:

Ever wondered what it would be like to meet your first love many years later? Especially if things between you did not end properly? Georgina does – and yet it seems that he does not remember her. Therefore the interactions between Lucas and Georgina seem to start from scratch – though she cannot help but remember the Lucas from her high school years.

Meeting someone from her past takes Georgina back to an experience that she has shoved into the back of her mind. In reflecting on this experience, she finally comes to realise how much it has affected her actions in the years since she graduated from high school. Acceptance of her experience helps her to change her circumstances and step out of the life that she has fallen in. The novel takes us on her journey – a journey that some people may have taken at an earlier age. Don’t You Forget About Me does focus on Georgina’s story and, as such, we read a complete development of her character.

I love that McFarlane focuses on the story of her female character. Yes, there is a love interest and the feelings of confusion and attraction that come with it. But there is also the story is about the feelings, hesitations, desires, and dreams of a woman. We read about more than just a relationship between a man and a woman. We read of her interactions with friends, her interactions with her ex, and her interactions with those at work. We also read of her difficulties with her ex and how she deals with it.

I enjoyed reading Don’t You Forget About Me. The novel was a perfect read for a lazy summer’s day. I enjoyed the character building of Georgina and her interaction with the various characters in the novel. The story made me smile at some of the antics described. McFarlane has written a perfect modern romantic comedy that you will not regret reading.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 78th in my book pledge for 2019)

Weekend Coffee Share: One Week Left

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the cooling days and the chilly mornings are reminding me that the Summer Break is almost over. I have tidied my home, read some wonderful books, spend time with a dear friend, and relaxed to my heart’s content. The time of leisure, however, is almost over and it will soon be the start of the school year.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that on Monday, and for the few days after, I will be going into school to set up my classroom. Not only will I be moving desks and chairs into their positions, I will also be preparing my students’ notebooks as well as getting the first week’s lessons ready. In addition, I will be preparing my welcome letter to the parents and setting up my centres for the first day. Preparing my teaching space helps to get my mind back into the routine of the school year. It is a time of reflection as I prepare for that nervous-filled first day of school.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have done most of the things that I wanted to do during the break – and that I will have completed the tasks that I set myself by the end of the Labour Day weekend. The days of summer have been hot and wonderful as I have taken a break from my working routine. I do, however, feel ready to get back in the swing of things – though I will not be able to do as much reading as I have done these past seven weeks.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that tomorrow I am attending a Frenzy Presents event at the offices of the Harper Collins Publishing House in Canada. I am looking forward to it as I will meet one of their authors and learn about the Young Adult books that are coming out this Fall.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am now off to meet up with my husband. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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: The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

My pre-ordered copy of Karin Slaughter’s latest novel has arrived!

“Michelle Spivey jogged through the back of the store, frantically scanning each aisle for her daughter, panicked thoughts circling her brain: How did I lose sight of her I am a horrible mother my baby was kidnapped by a pedophile or a human trafficker should I flag store security or call the police or -”

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter (2019, Harper Collins Canada)

Slaughter pulls the reader right in with the first line into a story featuring a kidnapping, a devastating explosion, and the Centre for Disease Control.

I look forward to delving into this thriller

Would you keep reading?

© 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: Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller

At the Spring Frenzy Presents event that I attended, I received a copy of Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller. I was curious to read the story told in two points of view. In addition, mental health in teens is an issue that should no longer be taboo and I was pleased to see that a teen novel was exploring the subject.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary

Blurb:

A crucial, genre-bending tale, equal parts Ned Vizzini and Patrick Ness, about the life-saving power of friendship.

Solomon and Ash both experienced a traumatic event when they were twelve.

Ash lost all memory of that event when she fell from Solomon’s treehouse. Since then, Solomon has retreated further and further into a world he seems to have created in his own mind. One that insulates him from reality, but crawls with foes and monsters . . . in both animal and human form.

As Solomon slips further into the place he calls Darkside, Ash realizes her only chance to free her best friend from his pain is to recall exactly what happened that day in his backyard and face the truth—together.

My thoughts:

I liked the concept behind the story: that a childhood trauma affects a child’s perception on life. Solomon experiences such trauma and loses himself in a fantasy world of his own making. There were moments, however, when I read of his experience in this fantasy world that I was a bit lost in the story. Miller attempts to create a fantasy world but for me, as an avid fantasy reader, it fell a little flat. In addition, at times the link between Solomon’s fantasy world and the reality was too tenuous. Having said that, midway through the story, the connections between the two seemed more believable.

Ash’s storyline was more interesting to me as she strove to help her friend, and to remember the night that she had blanked out in her mind. Like her friend Solomon, she had found a way to erase the event out of her mind – but in different manner. While searching to help her friend Solomon, she finds a way to help her own mind heal.

What kept me reading the story was my curiosity of the trauma – which is indeed something that would cause a mental breakdown in a child. The suggestion of the trauma is revealed in increments until finally Solomon is able to reveal what happened the night Ash lost her memory. Miller resolves the story with finesse and realism – an ending that I certainly appreciate.

Destroy All Monsters is a much needed story about mental health issues. It is a story about friendship – a friendship that survives even a childhood trauma. Miller tells the story through two points of view – both Solomon and Ash – and at times I was unable to make the connection between Solomon’s created world and the reality that Ash described.

Even though I expected much when I began this story, Miller’s novel did fall a little flat for me as he tried too hard to create a fantasy world. What kept me reading was Ash’s story and my desire to know more about the trauma that they had experienced.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 77th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazeman

At the Spring Frenzy Presents event that I attended, I received a copy of Like A Love Story by Abdi Nazeman. The description of the novel sounded interesting and I looked forward to going back to the time of my adolescence.

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart–and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.

My thoughts:

Like A Love Story flashes back to the AIDS activism of the eighties and when many news items in the media were on the AIDS crisis. The novel takes us back to a time that many have forgotten: a time of fear and of uncertain knowledge; a time when people fought for the rights of those that had been struck with the disease. So many procedures and access to medication is a result of the people who boldly protested for the right (not privilege) to receive treatment.

I enjoyed the flashbacks to the music of Madonna and my love of her songs when I was a teen. As I was reading the references to the rebellious singer, the songs would play in my mind. While reading this novel, I learned how important she was in the gay community – something I had not realised before when living as a teenager in Apartheid South Africa.

Nazeman has written a beautiful story that embraces what a person is born to be. It is a story about a young man who comes to accept who he is despite the fear that surrounds him. It is a story about fighting for what you believe is right, no matter what is being reported in the media or how people treat you. It is a story that describes the fear of being different to expectations. It is a story about the courage to be yourself. It is a story about friendship and of love; and of supporting the people that you love.

Like A Love Story is one that has touched my heart. It is a read that takes you back to the past and encourages you to connect with characters that will remain with you long after you have completed the book. Be warned, though. You will feel emotional when reading this story – have a kleenex on hand!

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

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 76th in my book pledge for 2019)