Book Review

Cultivating a Fuji – Miriam Drori

I have an extremely thought-provoking book for you today, courtesy of Miriam Drori and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources. Thank you both for enabling me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Convinced that his imperfect, solitary existence is the best it will ever be, Martin unexpectedly finds himself being sent to represent his company in Japan. His colleagues think it’s a joke; his bosses are certain he will fail. What does Martin think? He simply does what he’s told. That’s how he’s survived up to now – by hiding his feelings.
 
Amazingly, in the land of strange rituals, sweet and juicy apples, and too much saké, Martin flourishes and achieves the impossible. But that’s only the beginning. Keeping up the momentum for change proves futile. So, too, is a return to what he had before. Is there a way forward, or should he put an end to the search now?

Gradually, as you’ll see when Martin looks back from near the end of his journey, life improves. There’s even a woman, Fiona, who brings her own baggage to the relationship, but brightens Martin’s days. And just when you think there can be no more surprises, another one pops up.
 
Throughout his life, people have laughed at ‘weirdo’ Martin; and you, as you read, will have plenty of opportunity to laugh, too. Go ahead, laugh away, but you’ll find that there’s also a serious side to all this…

Cultivating Cover - Front

PURCHASE LINKS:

http://mybook.to/cultivatingafuji

REVIEW:

Confession time – this is possibly one of the hardest reviews that I have had to write, as this book left me with seriously conflicting emotions. It is also incredibly hard to explain this without giving away the ending, which I really don’t want to do, so please bear with me a little bit on this one.

Not knowing what a fuji is, the title of this book made little sense to me at first, so I was pleased to see an explanation of just what a fuji is right at the start of the book. If you are wondering, a fuji is a Japanese dessert apple of a variety with a crisp, sweet flesh and an orange flush to the skin. Even knowing this, I had to read the whole book before that eureka moment when the title suddenly makes sense. I must admit I get a great sense of satisfaction when that moment hits.

We first meet Martin, our main character, in a care home as he reflects back on a life with crippling social anxiety. My heart went out to him, as someone who clearly has a brilliant mind, but will always be over-looked or laughed at because his lack of communication skills and social niceties. The treatment he suffered at school broke my heart, as did the attempts made by colleagues to draw him out, which really came to late in life for Martin to be able to respond to them.

Although I enjoyed reading about Martin’s trip to Japan, and it was wonderful to see how the formalities of Japanese culture gave Martin the freedom to discover his true character, I found the pointed spelling of how the Japanese characters mispronounced English words a little uncomfortable. After all, how many of us can speak Japanese fluently and without an accent? That said, I can understand why the author chose to write in this way, as we were viewing the visit through Martin’s eyes and this would be something he would fixate on.

Even when I wasn’t reading the book I found I was thinking about it and counting down to when I could pick it up again. This is unusual for me with a book that isn’t full of fast-paced action but I found that Martin really got under my skin and touched my soul. As someone with a few social anxieties of my own, this book gave me hope that it was possible to overcome anything if you really put your mind to it. I think it was the fact that Martin’s story affected me so deeply that made the ending something of a struggle for me and left me feeling a little disconcerted by it all.

Despite my misgivings about the ending, I still think this is an extremely important book for helping people gain an understanding of social anxiety, and just how deeply it can affect the entire lives of sufferers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cultiveating Author Photo

Miriam Drori has decided she’s in the fifth and best stage of her life, and she’s hoping it’ll last for ever. It’s the one in which she’s happiest and most settled and finally free to do what she wants. Miriam lives in a delightful house and garden in Jerusalem with her lovely husband and one of three children. She enjoys frequent trips around the world. She dances, hikes, reads and listens to music. And she’s realised that social anxiety is here to stay, so she might as well make friends with it. On top of that, she has moved away from computer programming and technical writing (although both of those provided interest in previous stages) and now spends her time editing and writing fiction. NEITHER HERE NOR THERE (currently unavailable), a romance with a difference set in Jerusalem, was published in 2014. THE WOMEN FRIENDS, co-written with Emma Rose Millar, is a series of novellas based on the famous painting by Gustav Klimt. SOCIAL ANXIETY REVEALED (non-fiction) provides a comprehensive description of social anxiety from many different viewpoints. CULTIVATING A FUJI takes the social anxiety theme into fiction, using humour to season a poignant story.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Pinterest

Instagram

Wattpad

Website

Social Anxiety Blog

Amazon

GIVEAWAY:

Win copies of Neither Here No There and Social Anxiety Revealed  (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Enter here

As always, don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part in this tour.

Cultivating a Fuji Full Tour Banner

Advertisements
Book Review

Hate Bale – Stephanie Dagg

Happy Publication Day to Hate Bale by Stephanie Dagg. I am so happy to be involved in the publication day activities for this book. Many thanks to Stephanie, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Grumbling guests and escaping piglets are precisely what Martha doesn’t need. She’s already struggling to run a holiday cottage and a rather large smallholding single-handedly. Since her husband Mark died, three years ago, her rural property in France, beautiful as it is, has become an increasingly heavy millstone around her neck.

So whilst she’s horrified to stumble across a corpse at the local farm supplies shop, it does at least distract her from her own woes. Best friend Lottie, the cheese to Martha’s chalk, swoops in to offer moral support, and encourages Martha to join her in some unofficial sleuthing. Meanwhile, police officer Philippe Prudhomme, a former fellow chess-player of Mark’s, undertakes a rather more professional investigation.

However, despite everyone’s efforts the killer remains at large. And when more bodies (one and a bit, to be precise) come Martha’s way, it definitely feels like he’s closing in on her…

There’s suspense, humour and excitement in this entertaining cosy mystery set in the French countryside.

You can order your copy of Hate Bale here.

HateBale Cover

REVIEW:

Just recently I seem to be hearing people talk about the cosy mystery genre more and more, but I didn’t really understand what it was if I am being entirely honest, so when the opportunity to take part in the publication day for this book, I grabbed the opportunity to discover a new genre. It turns out that I am a fan. I often read fast-paced crime thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat, but I found that I thoroughly enjoyed the slower pace of this book. Yes, there were bodies piling up around Martha (sometimes in particularly imaginative ways), but at the same time there was a warmth about the writing, and there was a touch of humour throughout.

I fell in love with adoring Phillippe, and equally adoring pooch Flossie, and I loved that the wayward livestock on Martha’s smallholding was injected with just as much character as the humans were.

I found that I couldn’t take to Lottie at all. She is exactly the sort of person who would instantly rub me up the wrong way and I found reading about her quite jarring. However, I think this was perhaps the point of the character, to act as a counterbalance to Martha’s sweet nature and to prevent the book becoming too sugary. The vast differences between their characters certainly make for a quirky partnership, and I can quite see them getting a taste for investigating and crime-solving in rural France, with their poor loyal policeman following them around and attempting to keep them in check.

As I am sure many people do, I often dream of escaping to a rural idyll, somewhere in the peaceful European countryside, and whilst my own dreams lean more towards France than Spain, I love the idea of running a smallholding with a holiday cottage attached. Obviously, as this book shows, the reality is somewhat harder than the dream, but it was still so attractive to me that I would have happily upped sticks and moved to France to help Martha.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m an English expat living in France, having moved here with my family in 2006 after fourteen years as an expat in Ireland. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie of animals, has made for exciting times. The current array of creatures ranges from alpacas to zebra finches, with pretty much everything in-between! Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it’s been a steep learning curve.

I’m married to Chris and we have three bilingual TCKs (third culture kids) who are resilient and resourceful and generally wonderful.

I’m a traditionally-published author of many children’s books, and am now self-publishing too. As well as being an author, I’m also a part-time editor and, with Chris, manager of three carp fishing lakes. My hobbies are cycling, geocaching, knitting and sewing.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Facebook

Blog

Book Review

Dyed Souls – Gary Santorella

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the award winning Dyed Souls, by Gary Santorella. Many thanks to Gary, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Described by John Lloyd of The Bookbag as “Catcher in the Cuckoo’s Nest,” Dyed Souls is a gritty coming-of-age literary novel, set in a residential treatment center in 1980’s California.

Charlie Lyle loves science, natural history, and the world of the mind, and it is his refuge and salvation as he copes with his drug-addicted mother and a world of circumstances well-beyond his grasp. More a work of philosophy than psychology, “For the teen it has a galling coming-of-age, redemption quest. For the adult it has that, as well as a literary look at a singular fictional life.”

Dyed Souls Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Troubador

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Dyed Souls has won two awards:

Silver in the 2018 Global eBook Awards – Young Adult Fiction Category

Chill With a Book Readers Award.

REVIEW:

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with this book, as the blurb doesn’t give too much away, but something about it caught my attention, so I thought I would give it a try. In all honesty, it took me a couple of attempts to get into it, but once I did I was completely drawn in. I fell hard for all the troubled kids living at Hawthorne, and I felt deeply invested in each of their stories. I could have happily followed any one of them to see what happened, and would actually love to know how each of them turned out. But this was not their story, it was Charlie’s.

As Charlie begins his journey into adulthood, we see him encounter the best and worst people that society has to offer. This is not a book that is always comfortably reading, and there are parts that I found quite harrowing, but they were filled with such raw emotion that at no time did I feel that anything had been added simply to get a reaction from the reader. Everything that happens does so for a reason that shapes Charlie and the way he lives his life.

Although this is very much a coming of age tale, there is so much more to it than that. The depth given to each of the characters, even those encountered only briefly, breathes a whole life into the writing, and results in an almost philosophical view on life.

I am really struggling to find the right words to say to do justice to this book, so I will leave you with this. Just read it. You won’t regret it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dyed Souls Author PicGary Santorella, Owner, Interactive Consulting is a Lean implementation, organizational development, conflict resolution, and team-building specialist. He has a BA in Behavioural Psychology from Providence College, Providence, RI (1980), a Master’s Degree in Occupational Social Welfare from UC Berkeley (1990), and is a licensed cognitive-behavioural therapist in the State of California. His book: Lean Culture for the Construction Industry: Building Responsible & Committed Project Teams 2nd Edition was published by Productivity Press (a division of Taylor & Francis) in 2017. His first novel, Dyed Souls, was published by Matador Publishing in 2018.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

Dyed Souls Full Tour Banner

Book Review

The Worth of a Penny – Jess B Moore

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Worth of a Penny by Jess B Moore. Many thanks to Jess, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Sweetheart Penelope Davies is what her daddy calls gullible, right after he told her she was stupid and worthless. With her cheek red from being slapped by him, and her heart trampled by a worthless boyfriend, she packs up and follows her half-brother to Fox River, North Carolina, in need of a fresh start.

Dominic MacKenna is the youngest of five brothers, the friendly one with a killer smile and easy laugh. His brothers are all grown up, and one by one they’re flying the nest, leaving him out of sorts and unsure of his place. Who is he if not the youngest MacKenna?

Penny falls in with the MacKenna brothers, welcomed in as family, and offered the kind of love and support she never knew existed. With a new job and a lot of determination, she is finding out what she’s capable of. The last thing she needs now is to fall in love with the most notorious flirt in town.  

Dominic falls for the sweet strong girl with a penchant for random facts and quirky homemade dresses. All he wants is to show Penny how wonderful she is, how smart and funny, and how desired and loved—even if he has to do it as her friend.

the worth of a penny Cover

PURCHASE LINK

REVIEW:

When I saw that the front cover of this book referred to it as “A Sweet Romance,” I will confess that I wasn’t to sure what to expect. Although I often wander into the romcom Chicklit genre, out and out romance isn’t something that I would normally pick up. However, something about the blurb for this one caught my attention, and I am so glad that it did.

Although this is most definitely a sweet romance, this is not in a saccharine, sickly way, it is more that the strong family bonds, and the welcoming nature of the MacKenna brothers puts you in mind of simpler times when family and community were what mattered. As I was reading, I kept coming back to the thought that this book made me feel safe, like I was enveloped in a huge fluffy blanket with a mug of hot chocolate in my hand. It was a beautiful, gentle escape from the real world. That’s not to say that the characters just sailed through life. They certainly had their fair share of upsetting experiences to contend with, but through them all I just knew that they would help each other through.

This is the third book set in the Fox River community, but it can easily be read as a standalone – I haven’t read the previous books and I certainly didn’t feel as though I was missing out on any character back story. That said, I would love to get to know the characters better so I’ll be heading off now to check out the other books.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJess B Moore is a writer of love stories. When she’s not writing, she’s busy mothering her talented and stubborn children, reading obscene numbers of books, and knitting scarves she’ll likely never finish.

Jess lives in small town North Carolina with her bluegrass obsessed family. She takes too many pictures of her cats, thinking the Internet loves them as much as she does. She is a firm believer of swapping stories over coffee or wine, and that there should always be dark chocolate involved.

Her novels combine her interests in family, music, and small towns into thoughtful tales of growing up and falling in love.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour.

The Worth of a Penny Full Tour Banner

Book Review

Reflected Destinies -Kindle Promo

Hopefully some of you will remember Reflected Destinies by Florence Keeling from my review from back in September. If you were tempted by it back then but haven’t got around to buying it yet, I have exciting news! Until 1st April, this wonderful book is on sale at half price on Kindle, in honour of Mother’s Day (that’s today by the way – if you forgot and want to get out of Mum’s bad books, sneak away and order this book to be delivered to her Kindle. You’ll be forgiven in no time when she starts reading). Here come the details:

Reflected Destinies - Price Drop Promo

BLURB:

Laura is happy and content, she has a new boyfriend and loves her job teaching primary school pupils in London.  But when she inherits a rundown house from a stranger on her 30th birthday, memories of her prom night come flooding back, memories of a scary encounter and an antique mirror in the very same house.

Laura visits the house with all its secrets and as she unravels the clues she reveals the biggest secret of all: her own destiny.  But how can you change the future if it’s already written in the past?

Click here to order your copy. (I am in no way affiliated to this offer, and will receive nothing in return for you following this link).

reflectedDestiniesINGRAMS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Florence Keeling adopted for her pen-name her Great Grandmother’s name, chosen because of the shared birthday of April Fool’s Day.  She is married with two teenage chidren.  Born and raised in Coventry, England she now lives just outside in Nuneaton.  Reflected Destinies is her first novel.

Florence Keeling also writes for children under the name of Lily Mae Walters.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Book Review

Sea of Lies – Rachel McLean

The very talented Rachel McLean is making another appearance today, as it is publication day for Sea of Lies, the sequel to Thicker Than Water. Thank you so much to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for enabling me to be a part of the publication day activities, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

He abducted her. He fell in love with her. He helped her escape. Can she trust him?

Sarah Evans has returned home after being abducted and held in a dilapidated farmhouse by a group of men.

With her is Martin, who turned against the other men to help her escape. He says he’s not like them, and claims to be in love with her.

Can Sarah trust Martin? Does she share his feelings? Or should she listen to her father, himself deceitful and abusive, and turn her back on the relationship?

Sea of Lies is a chilling psychological thriller about secrets, trust, and a family falling apart.

A standalone sequel to Thicker Than Water

Sea of LIes (large)

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

Following straight on from the end of Thicker Than Water, Sea of Lies picks up the action from a different angle, with the main characters from Thicker Than Water stepping somewhat into the sidelines, and some of the supporting cast picking up the lead. I thought this was a really interesting way to continue the story, as it would have been so easy to just carry it on from the same perspective. I was fascinated to find out more about characters that I had met before, and formed judgements about that were perhaps not entirely accurate. Getting to know the Evans family, in particular, better and coming to understand their dynamic really made me see how different characters perceive situations so very differently.

I found Sea of Lies to be a faster paced book than Thicker Than Water, with a lot of toing and froing from the village going on. I devoured the first half of the book in just a couple of hours before real life dragged me away.

I said it in my review for Thicker Than Water (which you can read here) and I stand by my comment, these books would make a seriously good TV series!

Although Sea of Lies is the sequel to Thicker Than Water, it can also be read as a standalone novel as enough of the action from Thicker Than Water is included for everything to make sense to a new reader, but not so much that someone who has read Thicker Than Water will be bored by it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

rachel mcleanMy name’s Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.

What does that mean? In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?

My books aim to fill that gap.

If you’d like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub. I’ll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I’ll let you know when my books are on offer.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Book Review

Let’s Make Pom Poms – Katie Scott

I have a really fun craft book to tell you all about today. As you all know, I love all things crafty so I am so happy to be on this particular blog tour. Many thanks to Katie, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Fun and easy makes for all the family. Get crafty with pom poms with 15 easy to follow step by step guides. Make your own set of fluffy dice, sushi that looks good enough to eat and an everlasting Christmas tree as well as many other exciting projects.

by Katie Scott

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

I love making pom poms, there is something very therapeutic about it, and had hoped to be able to share a couple of pictures of some of my creations from Katie’s book. However, my pesky pom pom kit has gone into hiding (probably made a run for it after being over used!). As soon as I hunt it down, I will share my makes with you all. In the meantime, let me just share with you my thoughts on the book.

This looks a really lovely book, full of ideas for all the family to get involved with. I am particularly excited about Flurry the snowman and snowy Christmas tre (I do love Christmas), although I am quite tempted to try the sushi too, as well as the floral burst, and of course the bookmarks. Who am I kidding? I want to try all the projects!

The photographs that accompany each project are bright and eye-catching, and the detailed instructions are easy to follow. I seriously can’t wait to get stuck in, and I just know that my friends’ children of all ages would love this book just as much as I do. In fact, I might borrow them for an afternoon to help me out with a project or two.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Katie Scott is a craft and book blogger who lives in the county of Kent, UK. Living at home with her husband and infant daughter, Katie loves nothing more than long evenings in with a good book, a pile of crafting goodies and a very large pot of tea.

Let’s Make Pom Poms is her first crafting book.

Find more work from Katie Scott on her blog.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

Don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour.

Let's Make Pom Poms Full Tour Banner