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).

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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).

Top 5 Books I Predict Will Be 5 Stars!

Sometimes you know you are going to love a book – or hope you do – based on the storyline and the reviews you have read. At times it is a go-to author that never disappoints you. Currently I have 5 books on my TBR pile that I predict will be 5 star reads. Why haven’t I read them yet? I am waiting for the time when I can read uninterrupted and the best time for that will be during my summer break.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

I want to read this story for so many reasons: the inclusion of China’s rich culture, the promise of a strong female protagonist, the beautiful artwork on the cover of the novel. There has been a lot of positivism surrounding this novel on social media – so much so that the hard copy of the book was sold out online on the first day in the US. Unbelievable, isn’t it? I was happy that I had pre-ordered my copy. 🙂

The Cerulean by Amy Ewing

This fantasy novel caught my attention the first time I heard of it: the unusual title intrigued me and the story of a young woman finding the strength within herself captured my interest. This novel is the first of a duology and I am tempted to wait for the second before I delve into this one.

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

A fight between siblings and a girl who seeks her own way. This novel is yet another fantasy that I read a lot about on social media. The cover of the novel is also arresting and I am hoping that the story within it is as well.

Enchantee by Gita Trelease

An historical novel about Paris? I am in! I saw a lot of buzz about this story on social media as well but, to be honest, I am always drawn to stories of Paris – such a beautiful city rich with history. I have learned a bit about the time period of this tale and I look forward to seeing Trelease’s input on it.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

This novel is a huge one and quite heavy – definitely a book to read at home! I have only read good things about the story and, as a reader of fantasy fiction, I look forward to reading a tale with an adult slant on it. Filled with dragons and chaos, this novel promises to be enthralling.

I am hoping that these novels do not disappoint. Only time will tell.

Which book on your TBR pile do you predict will be a 5 star read?

© 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 you predict will be 5 star reads).

Top 5 Romantic Reads

I chose my top 5 romances by looking on the bookshelf that holds all my read books. My fingers moved towards books that I had read in the past year – or even further back. There is even one in my stack that I read a number of years ago and which may need to be reread soon. 🙂

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

I picked up The Hating Game from the library and I loved it so much I had to get my own copy. Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman, the two main characters of the story, begin by hating each other and show it through a set of rituals that they perform each day. Slowly different feelings start to seep through and their relationship begins to change. The novel is definitely an original story that I had never read before and is told with a sense of humour. I laughed often while I was reading – and even now I am smiling as I think of it.

Confessions of a Tinderella by Rosy Edwards

I read this book after listening to many stories of Tinder dates
told by our son at the dinner table. The story centres around a character named Rosy Edwards (yes, the author 🙂 ) and her experiences dating via the app Tinder. Hilarious! And totally believable. I finished the book thinking that I am glad I am not on the dating scene!

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

This novel was sold to me as soon as I learned that it was a Pride and Prejudice retelling. Jalaluddin does justice to my favourite Austin story as well as adds her own flavour to it. The story is set in Toronto and centres on the Muslim community.

One Day in December by Josie Silver

I read this romance in December last year along with a group of readers who are in the bookstagram community. The novel is a beautiful, heartbreaking story that spans ten years of Laurie and Jack, and all their missed opportunities to find love together. Will they eventually be together? You will have to read the story to find out. 🙂

Sofia Khan is not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

This novel was the first one I had read centred around Muslim dating a number of years back. Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents for her liking. Then her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene and, with the encouragement of her friends, begins her research. Not only did I find this novel interesting from a cultural point of view, but also funny to read.

Which Romance novel would currently be among your top 5?

© 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 romance books).

Top 5 books set in your country

This week for Top 5 Tuesday, we are sharing the books that are set in our countries. I have chosen to talk about books set in my country of birth, South Africa. The books I am sharing with you are ones that I have read even though I no longer have copies of them.

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

This book is Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. I read it about a decade after the first democratic elections in  South Africa and it describes Mandela’s life from childhood up until the time he became the first black president of the country. I found the description of his life from the time he was released from prison interesting as those are the moments that I lived through in my life as an adult living in the changing country.  

The Last Trek, A New Beginning by F. W. de Klerk

De Klerk was the last president of the National Party in South Africa and he was the one who oversaw the release of Nelson Mandela. It was under his leadership that the beginning of change began in my home country. I read this autobiography after Nelson Mandela’s and it was interesting to compare the two experiences – and to read history from a different viewpoint. 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

This book is another autobiography but this time of a comedian who was born during apartheid and grew up mostly in a post-Apartheid South Africa. When reading this memoir, it was interesting to compare his upbringing with what I had myself experienced as well as with what I had observed when teaching at a school after the first South African democratic elections. I loved, too, that his sense of humour permeates the writing. I am curious to know whether non-South Africans would understand many of the references that I did as a South African-born reader. 

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

This novel was one of the set books that I read when I was at university and it is one that resonated with me. It is a deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, this novel is one of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man. While doing research for this post, I saw that the book had been published with a newer edition. It is time, I think, to consider re-reading it. 

The Covenant by James A. Michener

This is an epic tale of adventurers, scoundrels, and ministers set in the South African wilderness. From the Java-born Van Doorn family tree springs two great branches: one nurtures lush vineyards, the other settles the interior to become the first Trekboers and Afrikaners. The Nxumalos, inhabitants of a peaceful village unchanged for centuries, unite warrior tribes into the powerful Zulu nation. And the wealthy Saltwoods are missionaries and settlers who join the masses to influence the wars and politics that ravage a nation. This novel is a story of courage and heroism, love and loyalty, and cruelty and betrayal, as generations fight to forge a new world. I read this book over 25 years ago so I cannot remember the details – but I remember being swept away with the epic nature of the story. Not only does Michener tell his story, but he throws in a bit of South African history too.

Other South African Authors

There are many other South African-based stories that I have read in the past. However, I am unable to remember the titles of the books. Some South African authors of note are: Nadine Gordimer, Doris Lessing, Olive Schreiner, and J. M. Coetzee. 

Have you read a story based in South Africa? If you have please share the title and author in the comments. 

© 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 in your own country).

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). 

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).