Book Review: Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

I was interested to read Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles and was pleased when the team at Harper Collins Canada sent me an ARC of the novel.

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary


In his first contemporary teen novel, critically acclaimed author and two-time Edgar Award finalist Lamar Giles spotlights the consequences of societal pressure, confronts toxic masculinity, and explores the complexity of what it means to be a “real man.”

Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.

His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.

With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right? 

My thoughts:

This is a novel that adolescent boys need to read! It describes the fumblings of a teen boy as he attempts to attract the attention of a girl he likes. With all the advice given to him by various people, he learns to make his own decisions – and to live with the consequences. This novel is a diverse read that focuses on a topic that is an essential one for adolescents: the interactions one has with the opposite sex, and how to treat the people you are attracted to.

Not So Pure and Simple focuses on the growth of Del as he learns how girls want to be treated (not how he thinks they want to be treated); and that the girl he likes may not always like him back. Giles takes the reader to the time when relationships with the opposite sex can be confusing. Exciting, but confusing. The author does this with a sense of humour and sensitivity, acknowledging the confused emotions of the teen boys.

A serious thread also runs through the story as the need for sex education is highlighted. The opposing views of the adults towards the programme is shown as well as how the attitudes of the opposing viewpoint can affect the lives of the teenagers. The programme is not only about the intricacies of sex itself; but also about the need to respect the members of the opposite sex.

Not So Pure and Simple is an important story that needs to be told. Yes, relationships can be a minefield when you are a teen but there a certain lessons to be learned that can make it seem less so. I enjoyed reading Lamar Giles’ story and I am sure that many young people would too.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 3rd novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin

In December, the team at Harper Collins sent me a few books to read and review during the Winter.I was so happy to see that they had sent me The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin as I love to read any book that features Paris.

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction


When bookshop owner Sarah Smith is offered the opportunity for a job exchange with her Parisian friend Sophie, saying yes is a no-brainer—after all, what kind of romantic would turn down six months in Paris? Sarah is sure she’s in for the experience of a lifetime—days spent surrounded by literature in a gorgeous bookshop, and the chance to watch the snow fall on the Eiffel Tower. Plus, now she can meet up with her journalist boyfriend, Ridge, when his job takes him around the globe.

But her expectations cool faster than her café au lait soon after she lands in the City of Light—she’s a fish out of water in Paris. The customers are rude, her new coworkers suspicious and her relationship with Ridge has been reduced to a long-distance game of phone tag, leaving Sarah to wonder if he’ll ever put her first over his busy career. As Christmas approaches, Sarah is determined to get the shop—and her life—back in order…and make her dreams of a Parisian happily-ever-after come true.

My thoughts:

Reading this novel brought back so many memories of the year I lived in Paris. So many experiences of Sarah, were my own experiences. The Parisian descriptions were what I had gone through myself. I love this city and reading about it in The Little Bookshop on the Seine, took me back to one of my favourite places. The descriptions of the city and its people are truly authentic.

Rebecca Raisin has written more than just a love story. She has written a story about a woman who, despite finding the man she loves, goes on an adventure of discovery. Not only does Sarah go to Paris and experience another country and culture, she also discovers another part of herself. She learns to be a stronger person and to find her voice.

The story centres around a bookshop and, as such, has some beautiful bookish imagery. The imagery is perfect for a reader who loves books – and is the second reason I wanted to read this novel (the first being Paris, of course!). The description of the Parisian bookshop reminds me of my adventures into the bookshops of Paris. Loved them!

The Little Bookshop on the Seine describes the positive experience working in another country can bring. In addition, it shows the growth a woman can experience in her own right while being in a serious relationship. I enjoyed this little novel as it is so much more than a romance. This book has recently been published and is a gem. It is the perfect read for those who love Paris, books, and modern romance stories.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 2nd novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Book Review: Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani

In December, the team at Harper Collins sent me a few books to read and review during the Winter. I rubbed my hands in glee when I received Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani. I looked forward to reading this fantasy novel so much that I chose it to be my first read for 2020.

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Publication Date: 28 January 2020


Kira Fujikawa has always been a girl on the fringe. Bullied by her peers and ignored by her parents, the only place Kira’s ever felt at home is at her grandfather’s Shinto shrine, where she trains to be a priestess.

But Kira’s life is shattered on the night her family’s shrine is attacked by a vicious band of yokai demons. With the help of Shiro—the shrine’s gorgeous half-fox, half-boy kitsune—Kira discovers that her shrine harbors an ancient artifact of great power . . . one the yokai and their demon lord, Shuten-doji, will use to bring down an everlasting darkness upon the world.

Unable to face the Shuten-doji and his minions on her own, Kira enlists the aid of seven ruthless shinigami—or death gods—to help stop the brutal destruction of humankind. But some of the death gods aren’t everything they initially seemed, nor as loyal to Kira’s cause as they first appeared.

With war drawing nearer by the day, Kira realizes that if this unlikely band of heroes is going to survive, they’re going to have to learn to work together, confront their demons, and rise as one to face an army of unimaginable evil.

My thoughts:

I loved this book! It was beautifully written and embraced Japanese mythology and manga traditions. The delightful use of metaphors and similes drew me into the story, and the engaging characters kept me there. I enjoyed reading Kira’s story and watching her growth throughout the novel.

Seven Deadly Shadows is a story that narrates the change Kira goes through in order to achieve her goals. She slowly comes into her own with the support from unexpected sources. Her growth is shown symbolically in the novel – as is the moment in which she realises her strength. Kira is a character that I supported fully while I read the story; she is a character I loved and could not get enough of.

It took me a while to get used to the Japanese names and references in the novel but this in no way hampered my enjoyment of the story. The glossary at the back of the novel was an easy reference that helped me to quickly understand unknown terms. In no time, I was able to read the story without flipping to the back of the book.

Seven Deadly Shadows reminded me of Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa and if you loved that story, you will love this one. It is written in the same style and has the same mythological references. This Fantasy read is also a diverse read as it explores a culture that is not a typical Western culture. If you have not read this genre before, Alameda & Maetini’s story is a good place to start.

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

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

(This novel was the 1st novel in my book pledge for 2020)

Reading Goal 2020

I enjoy setting a reading goal for myself as it helps to focus my reading and to keep track of how many books I actually read during the year. Last year my goal was 100 books and I managed to read a total of 116. I decided to keep my goal at 100 as my intention is this year to read a few books over 500 pages.

I am planning to focus on the Fantasy genre. Last year I read a number of Fantasy stories after many years and I re-discovered my love of this style. In focusing on these types of stories, I am hoping to not only read Young Adult novels but Adult ones as well.

I shall be keeping track of my reads on two spaces: Goodreads and the Harper Collins Book Pledge. I would love it if you could connect with me in that space, especially if you enjoy reading the same genre of books that I do. My name is : Colline Vinay Kook-Chun. In addition, I will share my reviews on my blog as I have done within the last two years. Please let me know if there is anything you would like me to add to my reviews that would help you with the choice of your next read.

I look forward to an enjoyable year of reading and to immersing myself in the stories of new (to me) authors.

Have you set a reading goal for 2020? If so, share your reading goals in the comments.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020

First Read of 2020

For my first read of 2020, I chose a Young Adult Fantasy novel by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani titled Seven Deadly Shadows. The story is set in Japan and embraces Japanese mythology. I am loving the story and the snapshot of a culture that is so different to what I know and experience every day.

Yesterday I met up with a friend and while travelling on the public transit, I took the opportunity to delve a little into the world of yokai, kitsanes, and shinigamis.

My first read of 2020 is a perfect fit for me and hope that Seven Deadly Shadows will be the first of many good stories I enjoy this year.

What is your first read of 2020?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2020