Top Five Reasons I Love Reading

I came across this wonderful bookish challenge hosted by Bionic Book Worm in which I knew I had to participate. Every Tuesday we are challenged to write the top 5 of a particular topic. I look forward to participating as well as reading everyone’s contributions.

Reading is a pleasure for me that I discovered when young. I remember spending hours lying on my bed or under the trees in our garden reading. But why do I love it so much?

I am able to visit and explore other worlds

From the moment I was able to read independently, I visited the fantasy world of The Folk of the Faraway Tree, countries across the seas in Europe and America, and even the worlds upon ships. I went back in time to the period of Little Women and into the future when I read Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction novels. From the moment I immersed myself in a book, I was no longer the child growing up during Apartheid South Africa, but an explorer of new places. Today I enjoy reading for the same reason. As an adult, I am able to visit cities and towns (in the past and present) that I have not explored and occasionally revisit a place that i have seen with my own eyes.

I am able to go on adventures

When I was a child, I went on adventures with The Famous Five or even The Secret Seven (Enid Blyton’s adventure stories were my favourite). Now I go on adventures in fantasy worlds, and even in modern day cities. I may be a detective, or a woman living a different life, or even a swordsman. I love the imagination that reading unlocks, and the entry it gives into a creative mind.

I am able to relax and sweep away the tensions of the day

The best novel will take me away from my current life for a while. With reading, I am able to forget – for a moment – my responsibilities and the expectations of others. It is a little like hitting the pause button. One of my best moments after a working day filled with the voices of young children, is to put my feet up and read for at least half an hour while drinking a cup of tea. My favourite way to relax and recuperate over the weekend is to read on the sofa during those early hours when the rest of my family are still asleep.

I am able to learn new things

From time to time I read non-fiction, but I am able to learn learn things from fiction as well. I may learn of the customs and habits of a community described in a novel that is unknown to me. Or, if I am reading a story set back in history, I am learning about that period of time. I have also learned modern colloquialisms while reading. In addition, reading books has allowed me to explore new genres and sub-genres.

I am able to learn of other people’s thoughts and ideas

A good novel will also have a subtle commentary on the society we currently live in, or have in the past. Many of the Young adult novels I have read during the past year do have this characteristic which is why I believe adults read them as well. A good fantasy novel definitely has social commentary mixed in and, integrated with good writing and an excellent storyline, will immediately capture my interest.

These are the top 5 reasons why I love reading. As I go through the day, I am sure I will think of more. These are the reasons, however, that drew me into reading; and these are the reasons why I continue with this habit.

Why do you enjoy reading?

© 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 reasons why we love reading). 

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Books and Biscuits

I am back at work this week and therefore have less time to read. Oh how I wish I could sit quietly for a couple of hours and enjoy the last section of the Crazy Rich Asian trilogy!

My current read © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

When I come home, I am able to put my feet up for about half an hour and read with a warm cup of tea. This week I have been taking out the last of the cookies that my friend baked and gifted me for Christmas.

A Book and Biscuits. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

My friend has been trying out new recipes and adapting them to find that spot where a cookie is not too sweet. I love her new shortbread recipe with just a hint of sweetness. I find the shop bought cookies are excessively sweet and the sugar taste overwhelms the other flavours in the biscuit. Her recipe for white chocolate, cranberry and amaretto shortbread looks so easy to make. (It is even easier if I get her to bake me some more 🙂 )

My friend has recently started her YouTube channel Under 300 Calories. Head on over and see if there are any of her recipes take your fancy. And while you do that, I will continue reading the third novel in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan, Rich People Problems.

What are you currently reading?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

Towards a Book Hangover

It is almost time to go back to my work-week routine and, in the days leading up to waking up at 5:30am, I find myself enjoying the gift my children gave me for my birthday.

The Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

I began reading the first novel last week Thursday – that is, four days ago. Even though I had seen the film already, I found myself enjoying the humour and the little details that were not written in the screenplay. Friday evening I had to delve into the second tome of the series. And on Sunday afternoon, I could not resist cracking open the third. The story is a fun, contemporary tale that describes the craziness of the ultra rich (and makes a little fun of them).

Immersed in a trilogy. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

This weekend I have read for many hours, immersing myself in Kevin Kwan’s story. It has made me smile – and encouraged me to enjoy the remaining moments of my break until I am back in the craziness of work. I was hoping to complete the tale before my Sunday bedtime. Alas! I do not think I will manage to do so.

How did you spend the last moments of your break for the Holidays?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

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

Favourite Read of the Month: August 2018

During the month of August , I  read 12 books for this year’s Book Pledge, bringing my total for read books this year to 58 books. Can you believe it? Yes, I did read a lot – especially in front of the fan on extremely hot days. When I am on a break from work, I tend to fill many hours doing one of my favourite things. I read a variety of genres and introduced myself to a few new authors. A very varied reading month.

The titles I read in August are listed below. To read my reviews (if you haven’t already), click on the title in the following list:

  1. Jane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reed – a non-fiction read on Jane Austen ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars
  2. Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – women’s fiction, romance  ⭐⭐⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  3. Little Green by Tish Cohen – women’s fiction, contemporary fiction  ⭐⭐⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  4. The White Devil by Domenic Stansberry – noir, psychological thriller  ⭐⭐⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  5. The Mistake by K. L. Slater – psychological thriller  ⭐⭐⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  6. The Guilded King by Josie Jaffrey – young adult fiction, fantasy  ⭐⭐⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  7. The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molly – psychological thriller  ⭐⭐⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  8. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – young adult, romance  ⭐⭐⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  9. Find You In The Dark by Nathan Ripley – psychological thriller  ⭐⭐⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars
  10. The Woman Who Upped and Left by Fiona Gibson – romance, women’s fiction  ⭐⭐⭐️ 3 stars
  11. The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand – women’s fiction, contemporary fiction  ⭐⭐⭐️⭐️ 4 stars
  12. The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristen Harmel – historical fiction, romance

I read so many good books during the month of August and after I read many of them them I thought I had found my favourite for the month. Yet when I look back on my list I cannot help but choose The Guilded King by Josie Jaffrey. This indie author has created a world that not only drew me in, but also made me want to read her other books. While reading her novel I could not believe that she was self published – that is how good her writing and story is. The second installment in this series is coming out soon – watch this space as you can be sure I will read the novel.

What was your favourite read in July? Share your choice, or the link to your post, below.

Favourite Read of the Month:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Bookstagram: September TBR

The new academic school year begins in September and I know, once school begins, that I will not have as much time to read. In my TBR pile for September I have moved over one book I intended to read in August but did not (Heartbreaker by Claudia Day). The rest of my pile comprises of ARCs that I have been lucky to receive during the month of August (mostly at author events). The first book I have started to read is The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest as it the sequel to the book I completed on Saturday – The Black Witch.

What  does your reading pile look like for the month of September?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Favourite Read of the Month: April 2018

During the month of April, I managed to read 7 books for this year’s Book Pledge.

The titles in April are listed below. To read my reviews (if you haven’t already), click on the title in the following list:

  1. Here So Far Away by Hadley Dyer. A YA fiction novel.
  2. My Secret Mother by Phyllis Whitsell. A memoir.
  3. The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie. A thriller.
  4. Blink by K. L. Slater. A psychological thriller.
  5. The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane. by Ellen Berry. A feel-good novel.
  6. The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry. A feel-good novel.
  7. The Storm by Arif Anwar. A literary type novel.

With the exception of My Secret Mother by Phyllis Whitsell, I enjoyed reading all of the stories I had chosen during the month of April. Looking back, I saw that I had managed to read 7 titles which does suggest that I had read a couple of novels that I could not put down. The Good Liar definitely falls into that category as does Blink. I did enjoy my introduction to Ellen Berry’s writing and savoured her feel-good stories – so much so that I went out and bought the next title in her Rosemary Lane series. I am now eagerly waiting for the next in the series.

For my favourite title this month I cannot help but choose The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry. The story may not be as literary as Anwar’s The Storm, or as nail-biting as Slater’s Blink, but I loved it. I moved through the pages quickly, loved the humour in the story, and the connection I felt to the main character. Berry’s story is definitely one I will read again.

What was your favourite read in April? Share your choice, or the link to your post, below.

Favourite Read of the Month:

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Book Review: My Secret Mother by Phyllis Whitsell

I picked up My Secret Mother by Phyllis Whitsell as the subject of this memoir intrigued me. Whitsell tells the story of how she was abandoned and then adopted by a Catholic family. She begins her search for her birth mother as an adult and, after years of searching, discovers that her mother is the local alcoholic known as ‘Tipperary Mary’. The memoir describes the journey of a young woman who finds her birth mother and who begins to care for her in the role of a nurse.

The story has the potential to be both interesting, emotionally charged, and enlightening and I looked forward to reading it. However, I was to be disappointed. The writing style is very staccato and does not encouraged the reader to feel any emotion. Instead the reader is presented with a factual and dry account of a series of events.

“There seemed to be a lot of whispering going on in the house and I was not included. Suddenly I felt really angry and could stand it no longer. If I was going to be sent back to the orphanage I needed to know, so I screamed, “What is happening to me and where will I be going?’ To my amazement I was not reprimanded for screaming out with such anger in my voice.” (p47, Harper Collins, 2015)

I found the many accounts featured in the novel to be tedious and pedantic – and often repetitive. Even though the book is a memoir, it could have been written in a more interesting way: the environment could have been described and the writer’s emotions referred to in a more engaging way.

I would not recommend this book to any reader. Even though the blurb on the book cover sounds interesting, the way in which the book is written does not captivate and hold a person’s interest.

Do you enjoy reading memoirs?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 21st in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: Four Blind Mice by James Patterson

I had met Detective Alex Cross before in one of James Patterson’s novel. When I saw that I had not read of his experiences in Four Blind Mice, I knew that I had to read this tale. In this novel, Alex Cross is on the verge of retiring from the D.C. police force when he comes across a case that he is unable to resist. His partner, John Sampson, has a friend who has been framed for murder and is facing the gas chamber. His accuser? The United States Army. Cross and Sampson go up against codes of honour and silence and three ruthless killers. But the bigger threat is the controller of the three murderers.

This story was as expected from a Patterson novel – fast-paced with moments of the Alex-story interwoven in. I enjoyed reading a bit about Detective Cross to see where his life is leading; and turning the pages to see how he and his partner solve the last murder before he leaves the police force. This thriller was a perfect read for me as I had wanted something with uninterrupted action that would not leave me thinking. For readers who enjoy page-turning thrillers, this novel is a perfect choice.

Do you enjoy reading Patterson’s Alex Cross novels?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 11th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)

Book Review: The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

For my tenth book of 2018, I picked a story from the pile of books I had collected at the OLA Super Conference. The Wolves of Winter is Tyrell Johnson’s debut novel and was one that intrigued me. The story centres around Lynn McBride, a young woman who has learned a lot since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and disease seven years ago. Living in the snow-covered wilderness of the Yukon in Canada Lynn has learned to hunt, forage, and survive with her family. A stranger arrives near their dwelling, a fugitive named Jax, who brings with him dark secrets and enemies from the past. The arrival of Jax brings a change in the tempo of the life Lynn had been living with her family. The extract from the book I share with you gives a hint at the change:

“My knife had been bloody before. Countless times. Cutting into animal flesh, guts, and even small bones. I’d wipe it off in the snow, leaving trails of bright, bright red against the powdery white. But every time, it had been an animal’s blood. The kill had meant food. Meat. Nothing more. Sorry, elk; sorry, deer; sorry, moose, squirrel, crow, marten. A girl’s gotta eat. 

My knife had never been smeared with human blood before.” (p 102, 2018, Simon & Schuster Canada)

Lynn’s life changes. She learns much about her past, and the reasons for the changes in the world that she was born into. I enjoyed reading this apocalyptic tale. Even though the story is set in a possible future, the events described seem believable. My sympathies are definitely with Lynn and, as the story unfolds, even with Jax. I would recommend this read for those who enjoy reading apocalyptic tales that question the society we live in; and for those who are interested in another suggested scenario for the breakdown of society as we know it.

Do you enjoy reading apocalyptic stories?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This novel was the 10th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)