First Line Fridays: Inkling by Kenneth Oppel

“No one was awake to see it happen, except Rickman.”

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel. (Click the title for my full review).

Right from the first line, I was curious to find out what had happened! A perfect line to capture the attention of young readers!

Are you curious? 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books and her One Line Friday challenge.)

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Book Review: The Huntress by Kate Quinn

I enjoy reading historical fiction as not only are you introduced to wonderful characters, but you are introduced to a segment of history. I had not read any books by Kate Quinn and was eager to read the ARC of The Huntress sent to me by Harper Collins Canada.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb: 

A fascinating historical novel about a battle-haunted English journalist and a Russian female bomber pilot who join forces to track the Huntress, a Nazi war criminal gone to ground in America.

Bold, reckless Nina Markova grows up on the icy edge of Soviet Russia, dreaming of flight and fearing nothing. When the tide of war sweeps over her homeland, she gambles everything to join the infamous Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on Hitler’s eastern front. But when she is downed behind enemy lines and thrown across the path of a lethal Nazi murderess known as the Huntress, Nina must use all her wits to survive.

British war correspondent Ian Graham has witnessed the horrors of war from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg Trials. He abandons journalism after the war to become a Nazi hunter, yet one target eludes him: the Huntress. Fierce, disciplined Ian must join forces with brazen, cocksure Nina, the only witness to escape the Huntress alive. But a shared secret could derail their mission, unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.

Seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride grows up in post WWII Boston, determined despite family opposition to become a photographer. At first delighted when her long-widowed father brings home a fiancée, Jordan grows increasingly disquieted by the soft-spoken German widow who seems to be hiding something. Armed only with her camera and her wits, Jordan delves into her new stepmother’s past and slowly realizes there are mysteries buried deep in her family. But Jordan’s search for the truth may threaten all she holds dear.

My thoughts: 

The novel is told from three points of view: Nina, Ian, and Jordan. Their experiences and thoughts are expertly woven to create a story that I enjoyed and raced through. An added bonus of the story is that the two women (Nina and Jordan) are both shown as being courageous: Nina fearlessly flies a night bomber during the war; and Jordan begins to believe in her own courage and perception.

Even though I learned a little snippet of history in this novel, I was not bored. Instead, the history is a necessary part of the novel that sets the scene for bravery, romance, and heartache. I loved that there was a little romance in the story; and that unexpected happiness could be found in spite of the War. Quinn realistically describes her characters and their experiences and, with the descriptions given, I was able to see in my mind the scenes that she had set. I could not help but turn the pages avidly to discover the next step in the characters’ experiences.

The Huntress was an excellent read. I have enjoyed the story so much I am convinced I need to pick up Quinn’s previous novel, The Alice Network (which is still on the bestseller list). If you enjoy historical fiction, this novel needs to be added to your TBR list.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 9th in my book pledge for 2019)

Regroup

PHOTO PROMPT © Renee Heath

It felt like they were at the end of the world. The end of their world. No longer were they the mega-stars of their homegrown company. Instead, they had been publicly disgraced, thrown out to the media wolves. They had escaped to this lonely, desolate place to regroup and plan a new path. If only they could use their downfall to their benefit. Slowly a plan formed in which they rose like a phoenix from the ashes. The added benefit? Revenge on the one who had betrayed them with no conscience. Their comeback would be sweeter with his ruin.

© 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.)

Top 5 Badass Females

What are badass women? you may be asking yourself. The urban dictionary defines her as radiating confidence in everything she does. She carves her own path. She wears, drives, drinks, watches, and listens to what she chooses, when she chooses, where she chooses, uninfluenced by fads or advertising campaigns.

Below are the top five badass females that I encountered in 2018

Juliette in The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

Juliette is a woman who knows what she wants – and who she wants. She crosses the line to get the life and man she wants and, even though the way in which she does it is socially unacceptable, her determination and persistence is admirable. Juliette is definitely a memorable female character in a scarily good psychological thriller.

Elloren in The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

There are so many good female characters in The Black Witch. For this list, however, I will focus on the main female protagonist. Even though Elloren is young, she knows who she wants to be – and what she does not want to become. All her decisions are made because of her desire to do what is right – even though she has to go against traditional social expectations. Sometimes she has to do what is expected because of circumstances – but even while following tradition, she does not fully adhere to the way things are normally done. The Black Witch is my favourite type of Fantasy novel which includes so many themes and rich characters.

Shirin in A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

As a Muslim girl living in America after 9/11, Shirin has a choice: to wear her hijab and show to the world her religious faith; or not wear the hijab and thus avoid all the racial and religious slurs thrown at her. She chooses to be proud of who she is and wear her hijab regardless. She is a young woman who defies the assumptions made about her – and who comes to certain realisations during this contemporary novel perfect for young adults.

Ayesha in Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Based loosely on the character Elizabeth in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Ayesha is a woman who knows what she wants to achieve, and does not hesitate to work towards it. She is proud of who she is and of what she is able to accomplish on her own terms. Unlike her cousin who follows the expectations her community has of her, Ayesha steps into an arena that is different to what is expected of a good Muslim woman. I love her feistiness and independence.

Zuri in Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Zuri is also based on Elizabeth in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. As expected, she is proud, feisty, and independent. I love, too, that she is proud of her heritage and her background – and that she makes no apologies for it. She is sassy and motivated to work towards her goals. Zuri is a perfect role model for young adult women of colour who sometimes hesitate to show pride in their background and heritage.

The above-mentioned list highlights the five female characters that stood out for me during my 2018 reading journey. There are others whom I met – and I look forward to meeting new ones this year.

Which strong female protagonist did you discover last year?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Bionic Book Worm and the Top 5 Tuesday challenge. This week we are listing the top 5 books that contain badass females). 

Regret

PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz

The abandoned car was a haven to the young twins: a place to escape the yelling, the unpredictably of drunken parents, the fear. Within the unused vehicle, they could whisper their dreams, their hopes. They would huddle together on the back seat, hoping to remain unseen and unnoticed.

However, their hopes were futile.

Their mother’s screams echoed in the forest when she discovered their burnt bodies. She had been in a drunken haze when their father had set the abandoned car on fire and had not protected her children. She never touched alcohol again.

© 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.)

A Need to Change

PHOTO PROMPT © Priya Bajpal

Sam had been reading the notes in the gratitude jar again. Not a good sign. Ellie prepared herself for an exhausting evening of listening to him continuously criticise people and bemoan his situation in  life. By nature she was a positive person with a continuous smile on her face; but her smile was beginning to feel forced. She found herself snapping at her co-workers constantly. Her mother had expressed concern for her changing behaviours and, a year later, Ellie was beginning to accept the toxicity of her relationship with Sam. It was time to make a change.

© 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.)

A Need for Action

PHOTO PROMPT © Russell Gayer

The arid landscape was drawing closer every month. The community felt unsettled as fear eroded their complacency and impassiveness. Men and women of Hope had believed their land would remain the anomaly, but the reality was that the parasitic outsiders were slowly decimating their ecosystems. And the aliens’ greed was voracious! The humans who had survived the unexpected onslaught were compelled to band together and work as a team to take their world back. Future generations and the survival of Arcadia depended on it. People would have to stand up and fight for their birthright and what belonged to them!

© 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.)

Book Review: One Day in December by Josie Silver

I saw that the novel One Day in December by Josie Silver was chosen by an online book club that I follow. I decided to pick up the story as I was in the mood for something a little romantic.

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

Blurb: 

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

My thoughts: 

This romance was the perfect holiday read! It is lighthearted (though at times heartbreaking) and I savoured each page. As I read of Laurie’s love experience over a span of ten years, I saw her develop as a person while experiencing the love she has for both Jack and her best friend, Sarah. Reading the novel made me think of my favourite romantic comedies on film. It encouraged me experience that feel-good feeling when the romance is pitched perfectly and is gently woven into the story of the main character.

I loved this well-written story and will keep it on my shelf to reread when I need an uplifting romance to make gloomy winter days more bearable.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 87th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris

I decided to dip into the third B. A. Paris novel that my colleague had given to me to read – Bring Me Back, he most recent novel.

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Thriller, Suspense

Blurb: 

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him…even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

My thoughts: 

My colleague loved this title so I settled myself in for a thrilling read. B. A. Paris did not disappoint. The story was gripping, with small tidbits handed out to the reader that kept me guessing. No sooner did I think I had guessed the solution to the mystery of Layla, then the author blindsided me with another tidbit. I loved it! If this book were a film, I would have been biting on my fingernails as the tension created by her words is gripping. And the best part? The ending was not at all what a reader would expect.

Like my colleague, I am now a fan of B. A. Paris. Her fast-paced and twisty novel has convinced me that her debut novel was not a once-off thing. Instead, this is the third time that she has succeeded in causing me to leave all other things unattended and read. I am looking forward to seeing what she will bring out next.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 83rd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: The Life Lucy Knew by Karma Brown

I attended an event at the Harper Collins Canada offices and had the opportunity to hear Karma Brown speak about her novel The Life Lucy Knew. The synopsis intrigued me and I was interested to hear what would develop in the story.

Genre: Women’s fiction, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb: 

One woman is about to discover everything she believes-knows-to be true about her life…isn’t.

After hitting her head, Lucy Sparks awakens in the hospital to a shocking revelation: the man she’s known and loved for years-the man she recently married-is not actually her husband. In fact, they haven’t even spoken since their breakup four years earlier. The happily-ever-after she remembers in vivid detail-right down to the dress she wore to their wedding-is only one example of what her doctors call a false memory: recollections Lucy’s mind made up to fill in the blanks from the coma.

Her psychologist explains the condition as honest lying, because while Lucy’s memories are false, they still feel incredibly real. Now she has no idea which memories she can trust-a devastating experience not only for Lucy, but also for her family, friends and especially her devoted boyfriend, Matt, whom Lucy remembers merely as a work colleague.

When the life Lucy believes she had slams against the reality she’s been living for the past four years, she must make a difficult choice about which life she wants to lead, and who she really is.

My thoughts: 

The synopsis of this novel intrigued me: what would happen if someone forgot moments of their life and confused their own memories with that of others? I believe that a lot of people would be upset, and that it would be a roller coaster of emotions for the person experiencing the memory loss. It is this continuous charge of emotions a person would feel that Karma Brown so aptly portrays. The reader gets to experience Lucy’s utter conviction that her false memories are real; and reads with understanding the seesaw of emotions that the protagonist feels as she tries to sift through what is real and what is not real.

While reading Lucy’s story, my heart felt for her. It wept at those moments when Lucy realised, on her own, that the memories she currently held so dear had been mixed up and were not what she believed them to be. While reading the story, I kept hoping that she would end up where she was meant to be and where she had been before her accident. It was this hope that kept me turning the pages of the novel.

The Life Lucy Knew is a romance – but a romance with a difference. Girl had already met boy – but she had forgotten what he had meant to her. The novel is about a girl following her heart and finding, once again, where she is meant to be – and with whom. Lucy’s story is written with a sensitivity that readers of emotional reads will enjoy. It is a story that will touch your heart.

I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 82nd in my 50 book pledge for 2018)