Top 5 Book Spines

I love seeing the books I have set out on my bookshelves. Their colours are aesthetically pleasing to me – especially those books that have beautiful covers and spines. I have noticed that a number of new releases are competing with some of the older copies on my shelf. And the spines of Fantasy books? Sometimes they have no competition from the other genres.

THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE by Samantha Shannon

I fell in love with this spine from the first moment I saw it on Instagram. The beautiful orange contrasts well with the blue. The hint of a dragon across it definitely adds to its beauty. When I received my pre-order, I saw that the spine looked as beautiful in my hands as it did on social media.

ENCHANTEE by Gita Trelease

I love anything related to Paris – a city I have spent a year in and that I loved visiting. This beautiful spine highlights the colours of the French flag and seems to fit perfectly the story within. I have not read the book yet but the spine will encourage me to pick it up when I am in the mood for something French related.

THE CERULEAN by Amy Ewing

From the first moment that I read the synopsis for this book, I knew that I wanted to read it. What a bonus when I saw the beautiful cover – and the spine certainly looks attractive amongst the other books.

THE SWORD OF SUMMER by Rick Riordon

The Magnus Chase books all have beautiful spines. My daughter has the entire collection on her shelf and they look stunning together. I have put the first in the series on my TBR shelf as I have been curious about these stories for a while now.

NIGHTBLOOD by Elly Blake

The spine of the third book in the series by Elly Blake looks absolutely stunning next to book 1 and 2. The Frostblood Saga is yet another series that I am hoping to read during 2019. I had the opportunity to hear Elly Blake speak last year and could not resist getting to know her more through her story.

I know I will get to read these beautiful books sometime but, until then, I will admire their beauty on my shelf.

Which book spines are among your favourite?

© 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 beautiful spines). 

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Reading Buddy

I always try to encourage a love of reading in my classroom. I have created a reading space in the room, and I give children time during the day to spend with their library books. Some children in my class gravitate towards the centre when all their tasks are done and immerse themselves in their story while others like to share what they are reading with a friend. One of my students (who enjoys reading) left his reading buddy with a book while he went out to recess.

A Reading Buddy. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

I could not help but smile at the sight. Not only has he kept his spot in the book in a non-traditional way, but his action highlights how much he enjoys spending time with stories.

What has made you smile this week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

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

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). 

Top 5 Books That Need To Be A Movie

Have you ever felt the need to see your favourite book as a movie? Especially while you are reading it? While in the world of my current book, I often see a picture in my head and know that it would be awesome to see that picture translated onto the screen. I feel this especially when I read Fantasy fiction. And with the technology available today, the special effects could be out of this world. I have reflected upon the books I read during 2018 and believe these are my top 5 stories that I would like to see made into a film.

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

It is no surprise that the first book on my list is a Fantasy novel. When I read the first book in Laurie Forest’s The Black Witch chronicles, I fell in love with the story. The characters are diverse and imaginative; the story a subtle criticism of the prejudices found in society. While reading the novel, my imagination soared. This is a book that would make an epic series of films in which the creative imagination can take flight; and for which those artists who work with special effects and costumes could outdo themselves. (If you are not sure what this story is, you can refer to my synopsis and review of the book here).

Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

My second suggestion is also a fantasy novel based on the myth of the dragon. I love this story not only for its references to dragons, but also for the subtle message to women and girls. Once again, because it is a fantasy set in a castle, the costume designers could out-do themselves. The film would have special effects – but not as extravagant and as often as would be seen in my first choice. (You can read my synopsis and review of this novel here.)

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

After reading Ayesha at Last, I wanted to see Jalaluddin’s rewrite of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice made into film. When I saw on Twitter that the book had been optioned for a film, I was ecstatic. Not only do I love the story, but I will enjoy seeing on screen a culture different to the mainstream western one that we see in so many films. (My synopsis and review of this book can be found here.)

The Dutch Wife by Ellen Keith

The historical novel that really stood out for me during the past year was The Dutch Wife by Ellen Keith. The novel focuses on the untold story of the women who were forced into prostitution in the German concentration camps during the second World War. The story is told with extreme sensitivity, and unfolds the lack of choices these women had while incarcerated by the Germans. Seeing Keith’s story on film would be explosive; and would get people talking about another aspect of the War and the concentration camp experience. (The synopsis and my review of this novel can be read here.)

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

I enjoy reading and watching psychological thrillers and one of my favourite reads in this genre during 2018 was A. J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window. The build up and twists in the novel would be perfect for a film. In addition, the story refers to mental illness – an issue that needs to be addressed more often in our society. (My synopsis and review is here.)

I am lucky that my best series of all time featuring the hobbits by J. R. R. Tolkien has already been made into film. A film which I think I need to go and re-watch 🙂

Which book would you like to see remade into a film?

© 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 need be made into movies). 

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). 

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