Weekend Coffee Share: Reading and Things

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that yesterday was the perfect day weather-wise. This morning was a bit chilly but at least the sun is shining. We are so ready for the warmer weather! The kids too – the weather has been perfect to take them outside to play, and they have eagerly gone outside for longer recess breaks. We have been stuck inside for too long and are now eager for days to take in some sun and feel the warmth of the sun on our bare limbs.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last Sunday I took part in the readathon organised by the folks at Harper Collins Canada. I spent the day reading along with others online and taking part in the prompts and discussions on social media. It was such fun to connect with other readers and to see their response to the prompts. Even though I did not finish my novel ( a 400 page historical fiction), I put a serious dent into it. If you want to read more about the event and have a look at my photos, you can go here to see the post.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this week has been one filled with assessments at school. I have been testing the children in one area of the curriculum every day as this week as I need to begin writing the report cards. It is a stressful time for us at school and one that I look forward to ending. Once the report cards are done, the atmosphere at school will definitely be more relaxed. In addition, my planned tasks for the year with the children are almost done and then we can move onto more fun things.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have also been practicing for my practical exam which will take place next Saturday. The exam is the final step towards my becoming a group fitness instructor and once that is done, I will have completed one of my New Year Resolutions 😀

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I cannot believe that it is already June – the months seem to have flown by! This month will fly by too – before I know it, the school year will be over, and my youngest will have graduated from high school. But until then, I will enjoy the passing of days. Enjoy the rest of the weekend, have a wonderful week, and speak to you next Sunday.

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)

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Top 5 Books I want to Reread

Remember that time when you were a child and would reread a book you loved MANY times? As an adult, I enjoy rereads as well – but on a less frequent basis. Today I will share with you 5 books on my shelves that I have enjoyed in the past and would love to reread sometime soon.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This novel is my all-time favourite classic. No matter how many times I read the book, or see the movie, I am swept away by the story. I love the humour in it too and always smile at the character Mrs. Bennett. Pride and Prejudice is not just a love story. In the novel, Austen also makes a commentary on society and the prejudices we have about people.

TThe Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

My Favourite Fantasy novel of all time is The Hobbit as well as The Lord of the Rings. The time has come for me to once again enjoy this story. I picked up an edition of this story from Scholastics and hope to read the story again this year. Of course, after reading this one, I would need to pick up The Lord of the Rings!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowlings

I have started a reread of the Harry Potter series this year. So far I have enjoyed the illustrated editions of the first two novels in the series and soon I hope to enjoy the third. In the meantime, I enjoy the presence of the book on my shelf. I have already had a look at the illustrations and they are beautiful.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations was the first story I read by Dickens . I enjoy his writing – the intricate characterisations and storylines. It has been a while since I have read any of his work and I think it is time to enjoy once again the story of Pip and Miss Haversham.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I read Wuthering Heights first year at university when we studied Gothic literature. I have forgotten the minute details of Heathcliff and Catherine’s story and have a yearning to revisit it. Hopefully I will get to it this year but, if not, it is waiting for me on my bookshelf.

Have you enjoyed any of these novels? Would you reread them?

© 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 we would like to reread).

Penguin Bookmarks

Last week Thursday was World Penguin Day – a day that we celebrate every year at our school. Why? Because our mascot is a penguin. Penguin activities are a great way to not only learn about penguins (there are 18 species), but also to create school spirit.

One of the activity ideas our principal came up with this year was to make bookmarks. I love reading and immediately decided that I would do this. The materials needed were: tongue depressors, a black marker, an orange marker, and some felt.

Creating Bookmarks. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

The children loved making their bookmark and enthusiastically came to my table when I called them. Some children had trouble cutting the felt so I helped them. After I had traced the outline of the penguin onto the stick, they mostly worked independently. At the end of the day, all the bookmarks were lined up on my table. I left them to dry overnight and the children took them home the following day.

Some children immediately took out their current read from their backpack and inserted their bookmark. Seeing that made me smile as I knew that what they had made would be used. My sample is also being used and it works quite well.

Seeing the uniqueness of each bookmark brought a smile to my face as the creation reflects the personality of the creator. I am hoping that each time my student uses their bookmark, they will smile when they think of the day they made it.

Would you make a similar bookmark?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Trent’s Weekly Smile challenge.)

Top 5 Mind-Blowing Thrillers

I enjoy reading a good psychological thriller – the twistier, the better. I love the nail-biting tension and the unexpected surprises left for me by the writer. I have some novels on my bookshelf that I picked out for this post with no hesitation.

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

Karen Hamilton’s debut novel kept me on the edge of my seat. I could not believe the obsessive nature of the main character and I had to see what she would do next – and whether she would get away with it! This twisty story is well written and I cannot wait to see what this author will write next.

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

This novel is a story that would make an excellent film – and I was excited to learn that the rights to the story have been bought by film makers. The story – which touches on mental health issues – had some unexpected surprises within its ages. I loved it! Finn is another author who has published only one novel thus far.

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is one of my go-to writers for thrillers. She adroitly teases the reader and takes you along the unknown path right until the end of the story. Pieces of Her is her last published novel and I am looking forward to her next.

I Know You Know by Gilly MacMillan

Gilly MacMillan is another author that I buy with no hesitation. Like her other novels, I Know You Know is a twisty story with a surprise ending and one I did not see coming. I cannot wait for her soon to be released novel that will be available this year.

All The Wrong Places by Joy Fielding

The most recent novel by Joy Fielding confirmed why this author is known for her thrillers. There is not one novel of hers that has disappointed me. The new story has cleverly used the theme of online dating to explore a possible danger. Loved it!

Have you enjoyed any of these thrillers, or authors?

© 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 mind-blowing thrillers).

A Weekend of Relaxation

The Easter weekend is over and so is my time of relaxation. During these past four days, I took some time out for myself and recharged my batteries a little. I spent time with an old friend, lingered over dinner with my family, and did a fair amount of reading.

This year I did not buy Easter eggs and bunnies for my family. While looking at what was on offer in the supermarket, I decided instead to buy each member at home a small bag of Lindt ball chocolates. The smooth texture of the hazelnut filling is so much better that the sugary sweetness of most commercial Easter chocolate. My husband loved the idea and will enjoy the treats with his tea after supper in the evenings.

The long weekend, the stories I read, and the fact I did not eat too much sugar were definitely things to smile about.

Did you enjoy the Easter weekend?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Trent’s Weekly Smile challenge.)

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). 

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).