Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

Close Enough to TouchWhile browsing through the list of new books in our library, I came across Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley. The blurb intrigued me. A story about someone who is allergic to people and cannot be touched? A scary thought.

The novel centres around the character Jubilee Jenkins, a woman who has a rare condition (she is allergic to the human touch). After a nearly fatal accident, she becomes a recluse. Her mother’s death forces her to leave her home and find a job. This she does at the local library where she begins to interact with people.

My teaser is near the beginning of the book. Her mother has died and Jubilee wishes to go to her mom’s funeral.

“My shoulders begin shaking as my laughter mutates into crying. 

I’m not going to my mother’s funeral. Lenny will wonder where I am. Anything my mom’s told him over the years about my being a bad daughter will be confirmed.

And while all of that is troublesome, another thought floats on the periphery of my brain, waiting to be let in. A terrifying thought. A thought that I realize maybe I’ve known deep down but haven’t wanted to admit to myself. But it’s hard to deny it when I’m leaning against the front door inside my house, unable to slow my heart or stem my tears or stop my body from shaking. 

And that thought it: Maybe there’s another reason I haven’t left my house in nine years.

Maybe it’s because I can’t.” (p 18-19, Gallery Books, 2017)

This novel was captivating and had me rooting for Jubilee. My heart ached for her as she fell in love and was unable to touch him as she wished to. There were many poignant scenes in this story; scenes which were beautifully written. This romance story is definitely not ordinary. I enjoyed reading this novel and would recommend it for anyone who is looking for a romance novel with a difference.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Ambrosia’s Teaser Tuesdays at The Purple Booker)

It Started with Paris by Cathy Kelly

After reading Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly, I knew that I had to read another of her novels. I went online and put on a hold for another of her stories – It Started with Paris. I was not disappointed and enjoyed this novel as much as the previous one I had read.

The story begins with a proposal on the Eiffel Tower and continues in Bridgeport, Ireland. We read about Leila, who is nursing a broken heart; Vonnie, a widow and exceptional cake maker; and Grace, a divorced head teacher.

My teaser is a reflection made by Grace. I chose this quote as what was written in her voice reflects some of what I believe myself:

“When she herself had been a junior infants teacher, over twenty-seven years ago, Grace could recall looking at each one of those little faces as if they were the country’s hope for the future. Happy and fulfilled adults, the best mothers and fathers ever, good-hearted people, even captains of industry and enthusiastic entrepreneurs. She’d seen it all in them, and she still did. People who thought differently did not make the best teachers.” (p25-26, Orion Books, 2014).

I enjoyed reading the lifelike experiences of the characters in this novel. I cheered for some of the characters, and was satisfied when certain decisions were made. I would recommend this read to those who enjoy reading true-to-life stories. And I will browse my library’s catalogue to see if any more books by Cathy Kelly are available.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Ambrosia’s Teaser Tuesdays at The Purple Booker)

Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly

Front CoverDuring my visit to the library this week, I picked up a novel by an author (Cathy Kelly) I had not read before. The cover attracted my attention, as did the title Between Sisters. The byline encouraged me to check out the book: Without a mother, there was only one way to grow. Together.

The story centres around a group of women: the sisters Cassie and Coco, their grandmother Pearl, and Elsa (a daytime TV therapist). The sisters were abandoned by their mother when young and raised by their grandmother. Their abandonment affects them in their adulthood in ways they have yet to acknowledge.

The teaser is an extract in the voice of the grandmother, Pearl, when she is reflecting on the past:

“And if she told them the truth, she’d have to tell them the whole truth. And they might look at her with loathing if she did that. Cassie was always saying Peal was an amazing woman. If the truth came out, about what she hadn’t done for their poor mother, Cassie certainly wouldn’t believe that anymore.”  (p47, Orion Books, 2015)

Even though I am only about a quarter way through this novel, I am enjoying the story. My curiosity has been aroused as the writer shares little tidbits of information as I read along.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Ambrosia’s Teaser Tuesdays at The Purple Booker)

 

Unsouled by Neil Shusterman

This weekend I completed the third book in the Unwind Dystology by Neil Shustermand: Unsouled. The book was as riveting as the previous offerings in the series. The experiences of Connor, Lev, Risa, Starkey, and Cam kept me glued to the pages and wanting more.

Cam, the rewound boy, is plotting the downfall of the organisation that created him in order to show Risa how he truly feels about her but he does have trouble remembering what it is like to feel human.

”He has mastered all of his answers – even to questions that are intentionally belligerent and incendiary. 

‘Admit it – you are nothing but a kit-car,’ one heckler says during his appearance at MIT. ‘You’re just a model put together from parts in a box. How can you call yourself human?’

Cam’s response to questions like this is always tactful and puts the heckler in his or her place. 

‘No, I am more like a concept car,’ Cam tells the man, without any of the animosity with which the question was asked. ‘The sum of the imaginations of all the experts in the field.”’ (p95, Simon & Shuster, 2013)

The question he often asks himself is whether he is human, and whether he has a soul. A question which the reader moves towards answering.

Once I completed this book, I had to crack open the next one in the series. This series is definitely one to put on your TBR list.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

Teaser Tuesday | BooksAndABeat.com© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Ambrosia’s Teaser Tuesdays at The Purple Booker)

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl On The Train (US cover 2015).pngMy neighbour received a copy of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins as a gift. After she had read it, she insisted that I do so. I had heard about this novel and had read reviews about it on blogs. Comments and reviews had been positive and, as a result, I looked forward to reading the story.

And it did not disappoint.

The story may seem mundane – about a girl travelling on a train. She watches from the window a couple who seem to have the perfect relationship. A couple around whom she weaves imaginary names and lives.

“The train is rattling along, we whip past Jason and Jess’s place, they pass in a blur of evening sunshine. Sometimes, not often, I can see them from this side of the track. If there is no train going in the opposite direction, and if we are travelling slowly enough, I can sometimes catch a glimpse of them out on their terrace. If not – like today – I can imagine them.”  (p5, 2014, Penguin Random House).

Then she sees something shocking which she cannot keep to herself. The choices Rachel (the protagonist) makes, and the things she does, leads her to eventually discovering the truth of what she had seen.

When I began reading this story, I was not sure whether it would be my type of story. But, as I turned the pages, I became engrossed in the story. Hawkins reveals each piece of information slowly which leaves the reader guessing. With each reveal, the predictions the reader makes is changed.  And what one assumes is a mundane story becomes something more.

This read is definitely one I would recommend, especially for it unpredictability.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

Teaser Tuesday | BooksAndABeat.com© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Ambrosia’s Teaser Tuesdays at The Purple Booker)

Unwind by Neil Shusterman

img_0348After my daughter spent a weekend reading the book on the sofa, I decided that Unwind by Neil Shusterman might be a novel I could enjoy – especially after reading the blurb. The novel centres around three teenagers (Connor, Risa, and Lev) who are running for their lives. They run because they do not want to be “unwound”, a process whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different recipients.This process is legal and came into being after the Second Civil War which was fought over reproductive rights.

This dystopian  novel grabbed my interest from the first page. My teaser comes from the first section of the book and refers to Risa’s experience:

“And in this choas, Risa has a sudden realisation. 

This is not part of the plan. 

The system might have a million contingencies for state wards trying to screw with things, but they don’t have a plan of action for dealing with an accident. For the next few seconds, all bets are off.

Risa fixes her eyes on the front door of the bus, holds her breath, and races towards that door.”  (p27, Simon & Shuster, 2007)

This read was as good as my daughter claimed it would be. The author captured my interest from the first page – and kept it right until the final paragraph. This is a must-read if you enjoy dystopian novels, or anything that will keep you gnawing on your fingernails. If you have a reluctant teen reader – then this book will certainly keep them engrossed!

Now I am reading the second novel in the series – and I wish I could put my feet up and immerse myself in Shusterman’s world.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

Teaser Tuesday | BooksAndABeat.com© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Miz B’s Teaser Tuesdays at Books and a Beat)

Pedagogical Documentation

Teaser Tuesday | BooksAndABeat.comI have not been reading much in the last few weeks while preparing for the presentation I am to do tomorrow. The PD (professional development) session I am presenting to my co-workers is on pedagogical documentation and how to use the Google Apps to document student learning.

I did some reading to find evidence of why documenting our students’ learning is helpful. As I reread an article, a sentence stood out that I had not taken note of before:

“It is not only our students’ thinking that becomes visible through pedagogical documentation, but our thinking as educators becomes visible as well, opening up the possibility for shared reflection on the learning process.” (Capacity Building Series: Pedagogical Documentation, p.2)

I have come to realise that my documentation certainly shows parents what I am thinking and what I am looking for as I observe their children learning.

(Click on the title if you wish to read the article in the Capacity Building Series K-2 on Pedagogical Documentation)

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Miz B’s Teaser Tuesdays at Books and a Beat)

Teaser Tuesday: The Murderer’s Daughter

Teaser Tuesday | BooksAndABeat.comThe Murderer's DaughterI always enjoy reading a good murder story – and this novel fit the requirements. What I enjoyed most in The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman, was the unusual heroine – Dr Grace Blades. She is a brilliant and dedicated psychologist who helps troubled souls and tormented psyches. She had a troubled past herself as watched the death of both her parents and went through the foster system. My teaser makes reference to this unusual character and hints a little at what makes her unique.

‘Dr Grace Blades cradled the woman in her arms. Many therapists shied away from physical contact. Grace shied away from nothing. The Haunted needed more than kind words, soft looks, and uh-huhs. They deserved more than the pathetic lie known as empathy. Grace had no respect for the concept of empathy. She’d lived in the red room.” (p.10, Ballantine Books, 2015)

The story centres around an incident that brings Grace’s past into the present. The reader learns how she deals with the result of the incident and how she resolved it. This novel was definitely a page turner for me and I enjoyed the story the author had created.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Miz B’s Teaser Tuesdays at Books and a Beat)

Teaser Tuesday: Peacetime by Robert Edric

TeaserPeacetimeSet in the Summer of 1946 in the Wash on the Fenland Coast, Peacetime by Robert Edric is not the type of book that I usually read. At times the action a little slow but I find it interesting to read about one character in particular – Jacob, a Jewish man who experienced the horrors of the concentration camps during the Second World War. The teaser I have chosen are the words he speaks to one of the people who have befriended him, James Mercer:

“In Papenburg perhaps. But not afterwards, nit there. You talk of risk, of those risks worth taking but in that place nothing was calculable; there was no reason, no connection between how one lived and how or why one died.  To be in the wrong place at the wrong time was a risk, but who was to know where or when that was? People were chosen at random, the sick and the healthy alike, and they were killed.” (205, Doubleday, 2002).

As James Mercer works on demolishing the gun platforms after the war, he befriends Mathias (a German prisoner of war) as well as Mary, a fifteen year old girl. When her father returns from military prison, the violence he brings with him changes the dynamic of relationships formed in his absence.

I am nearing the end of the novel and I am curious to see whether Mary is able to escape the violence her father has brought into her life.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Miz B’s Teaser Tuesdays at Books and a Beat)

Teaser Tuesday: Walking Home

TeaserImage resultI have enjoyed a few of the novels written by Eric Walters – an author who writes for the younger audience. This weekend I spent time reading one of his latest stories: Walking Home. The story is about a thirteen year old Kenyan boy, Muchoki, and his younger sister Jata. Political violence has killed their father and destroyed their home. Muchoki, Jata and their ailing mother live in an overcrowded refugee camp where they found refuge after the destruction of their home. With the death of their mother, the two children are orphaned. Driven by a desperate optimism, Muchoki and Jata set off on what seems an impossible quest: to walk over a hundred miles across Kenya in search of their last remaining family.

My teaser:

“I had hope too – hope that my mother would get better and we would then leave and her family would welcome us. I had started to realise how powerful hope was. After water and food, shelter from the weather and a place to sleep, it was the most powerful thing that could sustain a person.” (p71, Doubleday Canada, 2014)

This story is one of hope and optimism and can be enjoyed by adults as well as its target audience (children in middle school). I am not surprised that this book was nominated for the Red Maple Award. Not only is it well written, it touches a chord in your heart.

What are you reading this week? Feel free to share a few sentences from the book in the comments. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Miz B’s Teaser Tuesdays at Books and a Beat)