Categories
Books Reviews The writing process

Creativity Matters

This post is part of the blog tour organised by Reading Between the Lines.
It’s a post I’m pleased to have been invited to write, and one that I now tackle with enthusiasm and, well… embarrassment, but only a little.
Read on…

The blog tour is for the book Creativity Matters: Find your Passion for Writing, which is compiled by Wendy H. Jones.

The Blurb

Have you always thought about writing a book but don’t know where to start? Are you an experienced author and want to spread your wings? Are you looking for inspiration for every step in your writing journey? This is a book for everyone who wants to write, whether history or contemporary, science fiction or humour, local fiction or set in a made-up world, fiction, non-fiction, memoir, there’s something here for you. Join thirteen authors as they share their passion for why you should write in their genre and find your own passion as you read.

It’s time for you to spread your wings, follow your dreams and find your passion for writing.

My Review

Here begins the embarrassing part.

You see, when I was asked to take part, I was away, hiking in the Bernese Oberland and other parts of Switzerland. I know, I haven’t blogged about that yet, but I plan to. I digress.

Since returning home, my time hasn’t been my own. I’ve had to attend to family matters and in particular to culinary matters, and the result is that I didn’t spend much time on creative matters and I
Didn’t finish reading the book.

However, I did warn the organiser in advance, and I’ve read enough of the book to have something to say about it, which is this:

I love it and am looking forward to reading the rest. All the participating authors are clearly passionate about writing in their particuar genres, and their enthusiasm is catching. Each one answers the question ‘why write?’ rather than ‘how to write?’ and yet the ‘how to’ question is answered in a ‘show don’t tell’ sort of way – by example.

The chapter on writing drama particularly appealed to me because it was written as a drama. I’ve never even considered writing drama before, but this might even get me started. All I need is time!

If you have time and want to write in any genre or to switch genres, this book will spur you on.

Links

Amazon buy link for Creativity Matters
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon Author Page
Instagram

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Books Reviews

The First Cut

As soon as I saw this title, I thought of this song:

and I couldn’t help singing it as I read the novel.

Beautiful as it is, I’m not here to talk about the song or Rod Stewart, but about the novel, The First Cut by Val Penny, published by Darkstroke Books and officially launched today. Like all Val’s novels, it’s crime fiction and this is the first of a new series. Jane Renwick has appeared in previous novels, but she now has her own series and we discover her roots.

Jane’s unfortunate early years are related so poignantly that the reader can’t help being drawn in and touched by the story. On top of that, there’s a dangerous killer at loose, and the police are working hard to find out who the killer is, but sometimes they’re misled.

There are stages in the process of writing a novel:

  • Formulate ideas.
  • Plot the story.
  • Write the first draft.
  • Write more drafts.
  • Edit.

Each of those stages contains various steps. Clearly, the author put a lot of laborious work into most of them. That’s what made the novel so easy and quick to read. And enjoyable, too. There must have been a lot of thought about how much information to reveal and when to reveal it. The hints at facts unknown to the police make this story a thrilling one to read, as the reader watches the police following the wrong paths.

There’s a lot involved in editing, too, and unfortunately it feels as if, for this novel, that stage was rushed. In particular, I was bothered by one sentence I didn’t understand. I’m not sure whether that was because of a typo, but I didn’t follow why it caused Jane to burst out crying and then decide she had to explain her tears by relating part of her childhood. Very possibly, I’m to blame for that. Also, there were places where I didn’t understand the use of italics, first/third person, tense and repetition.

But I want to stress that most of the novel is excellent, and probably other readers wouldn’t notice these small things. So do read it; it is what it promises: “fast-paced, gripping police procedural…set in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland.”

About the Book

Sometimes it’s hard to escape a brutal past. That’s the case for DS Jane Renwick, who learns via DNA a serial killer could be a family member.

This gripping police procedural is set in Edinburgh and Glasgow. A vicious killer is on the loose and victims include an academic and members of Edinburgh’s high society. But Jane is banished to the side-lines of the case and forced to look on impotently when the hunt for the killer ramps up, because the Murder Investigation Team believes the killer is related to her.

Has someone from Jane’s estranged birth family returned to haunt her? Could one of her relatives be involved? Where will the killer strike next?

This exciting novel is the first in Val Penny’s new series of Scottish thrillers.

About the Author

This is the first in the new series of novels, The Jane Renwick Thrillers. Val Penny’s other crime novels, Hunter’s Chase Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.

Author Links

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / Bookbub

Links to Val Penny’s Books

Hunter’s Chase / Hunter’s Revenge / Hunter’s Force / Hunter’s Blood / Hunter’s Secret / Let’s Get Published / Dark Scotland / The First Cut

Categories
Books Reviews

Hunter’s Review

Today, I’m reviewing the new audio version of Hunter’s Chase by the fabulous author, Val Penny. This is part of the blog tour organised by Reading Between the Lines – Online Book PR.

First, some information about the novel.

Hunter’s Chase

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city, and he needs to find the source, but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. 

Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder, but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: Detective Constable Tim Myerscough, the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable Sir Peter Myerscough. 

Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this first novel in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series.

Hunter’s Chase audio version is available from Amazon UK, Amazon US, etc.

My Review

I hadn’t read this novel, so it was a new story for me. The main characters, however, were familiar, as I have read a later novel in the series, and I was keen to find out how they “began life”.

I’d had hardly any experience of audio books and worried about two aspects of listening:

  • What would I do while listening?
  • Would I understand the narration?

The second was a valid consideration. This series of books is set in Edinburgh, Scotland. Clearly the narrator needed to have a Scottish accent, which was provided by Sean Pia. I remembered once concentrating on a Scottish comedy act and never understanding the punchlines. I also remembered a Scottish guy at a writing retreat whose accent I struggled to follow.

I’m happy to say that this narration was excellent – very clear and easy to follow, even for me. My only complaint is that occasional sentences are repeated, but that hardly affected me.

As for the novel itself, the plot is exciting and kept me wanting to listen. And the characters are all well-rounded and true to life with plenty of backstory woven in. I knew I would enjoy it, having read Hunter’s Force.

Was I won over to audio books? Not really. I feel the point of audio books is being able to do something boring while listening. It doesn’t feel right to me to just sit and listen. But I don’t have enough boring things to do. I hardly ever travel long distances, and I have radio programmes to listen to while working in the kitchen. I could listen to an audio book very occasionally, if that’s an option, but I certainly wouldn’t take out a monthly subscription.

Val Penny

Val Penny’s other crime novels, Hunter’s Chase, Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s ForceHunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret form the bestselling series, The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland and published by darkstroke. Val’s first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.

Author Links

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / Bookbub

Links to Val Penny’s Books

Hunter’s Chase / Hunter’s Revenge / Hunter’s Force / Hunter’s Blood / Hunter’s Secret / Let’s Get Published / Dark Scotland / The First Cut

Categories
Books Reviews

Truly Amazing Adventures

I just finished a book. It’s called The True Adventures of Gidon Lev by Julie Gray, and I want to sing its praises from the rooftops.

The True Adventures is an amazing book, unlike any other that I’ve read. It started out as an account of the full and unusual life of Gidon Lev, but very soon the author slotted into the story, as the two became, as Gray calls their relationship, “Loving Life Buddies.”

Gidon Lev proudly holds the brand new book

The subtitle for the book is: “Rascal. Holocaust Survivor. Optimist.” It tells you immediately that this read will be poignant and humorous. It might make you wonder: How can you have humour in a book about a Holocaust survivor? My answer, in the typical Jewish habit of answering a question with another question, is: How can you not have humour when the survivor is a person who always has a smile ready to burst out? In every photo I’ve seen of him, every video, that cheeky smile is what I notice first. This is a man who never wanted his Holocaust experiences to define him, and they don’t. He is so much more than that.

I love the way the book is arranged, with Gray’s voice interspersed with quotes from various people and in particular from Gidon himself. In the middle of Gidon’s and Julie’s 2019 tour of Prague, for example, Gidon tells of Prague in 1938. When Gidon disagrees with something Julie wrote, his version pops up, too.

The writing itself includes some gems, like this description of Gidon: “merry, a bit kooky, with great intentions, always headed toward adventure and sometimes tilting toward windmills.” Also: “Memory is a famously mysterious phenomenon; the more we tell our stories, the more details we add, edit, or exclude.” And: “Anybody could relate to stories about relationships or jobs with bad bosses or a fun vacation. But when you experience something very specific, such as war or the suicide of a loved one or cancer, you occupy a different space. A lonelier one.”

Julie and Gidon in Karlovy Vary, 2019

Gidon was adamant from the beginning: the book was to be about his whole life and not just the Holocaust. I agree with him and yet… The Holocaust parts are so important, so poignant, so inescapably, unavoidably present, that they were what made the book for me, and it was right that the topic of the Holocaust kept returning in the narrative. It had to. You can’t go through an experience like that and just move on. It has to influence everything that comes after.

The Israel parts felt closer, perhaps too close, because naturally there were sections I didn’t agree with. I found myself thinking: I’ve lived here for forty-four years; how dare this newcomer say such things! But I took myself to task, because of course she’s had time to create her own views, and living here gives her the right to express them. Still, when I read that the Snake Path leading to the top of Masada is dangerous, I shouted back, “It isn’t! I’ve climbed it and it isn’t!”

The personal parts of the book were interesting as other people’s lives often are. I couldn’t imagine being in some of the knots Gidon found himself in. I marvelled at his ability to disentangle himself, even if not always in the best way.

I learned plenty from the snippets of information dotted around. “The word holocaust,” Gray writes, “was first used to describe the Hamidian (or, in modern terms, Armenian) Massacres perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks from 1894 to 1896.”

I hardly need to add that I heartily recommend this book to everyone.

***

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. In no way did that affect my opinions, voiced above.

More information is available on the website. The photos are taken from there, with permission.

 

Categories
Books Interviews Reviews

Secrets Spoil Relationships

You can’t have a proper relationship with someone if you can’t be open with them. Rachel and her sister Imogen have discovered this…

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of an exciting new novel: Façade by Helen Matthews.

Façade by Helen Matthews

My review is followed by an interview with the author.

Review

Family secrets abound in this thrilling saga, and they’re revealed to us at different stages of the novel. Rachel is the one who has had to shoulder the most secrets, causing rifts between her and those closest to her. But even she has more to discover. Her older sister, Imogen, has been sheltered from a lot. Why is that? Being kept in the dark has fired her jealousy; she was always wild and selfish. The biggest secret of all, the truth about Rachel’s and Imogen’s brother, is mentioned throughout the book, but only revealed at the end. And it wasn’t what I was expecting.

This novel has taught me a lot about careful plotting. It has also made me rethink the secrets in my own family and the way they affected me. Nothing quite as dramatic, although Imogen did remind me of someone.

Façade is a gripping story, highly recommended.

Interview

Hello, Helen, and welcome to the blog. You are new to Crooked Cat / Darkstroke, but you’re not a new author. Can you tell us briefly about your other books?

Thanks for inviting me onto your blog, Miriam, and for reading and reviewing Façade. I’m thrilled to know you enjoyed it.

Façade is actually my third novel. My debut, published in 2017, was After Leaving the Village – a  suspense thriller about human trafficking and modern slavery. I’m often asked how I came to write about such a dark and gritty subject but once I hit on the idea it wouldn’t leave me. I should add that the story is realistic and I couldn’t entirely shy away from the violence but it is not gratuitous.

I’m interested in how someone’s life can change in an instant: one poor decision, trusting the wrong person, or being desperate to escape from poverty can spark a chain of events. My main character in After Leaving the Village, is seventeen-year-old Odeta, from a village in Albania. She’s left school and is working in her father’s shop. Her life isn’t especially grim, but it’s dull. She knows there’s a big world out there and, when an enigmatic stranger walks into the shop and offers to take her to London to start a new career, she jumps at the chance. Her life is about to change, but not in the way she expected.

I wanted readers to stand in Odeta’s shoes and really get to know her and recognise that she’s an ordinary woman – just like you or me or one of our daughters. I didn’t want her to be a one-dimensional character or a stereotypical victim.

While researching my novel, I discovered a charity called Unseen, that works to support survivors of modern slavery. They answered my research questions, fact-checked the novel for me and their Director wrote a Foreword for the book. I’m now an Ambassador for the charity.

My second novel Lies Behind the Ruin, published in April 2019, is also psychological suspense but it’s not about human trafficking. It’s domestic noir about a family who flee overwhelming problems in England and escape to France to renovate a derelict property. The main part of the story is set in and around Limoges with authentic detail of the city and nearby villages which, I hope, shows some of the magic of France and explains why people crave a simpler life. Emma and Paul Ashby and their children  are a ‘blended family’ and face heartbreak when they make the move because Emma’s son from her first marriage refuses to come. But their challenges aren’t the everyday ones that impact all would-be ex-pats because their marriage is beset by secrets and lies. Once these problems escalate, both their dream of a new life, and their daughter Mollie’s safety, are at risk because – how can you build a new life on toxic foundations?

What about Façade? How does it compare to your previous novels?

Façade is psychological suspense, like my previous novels, but it’s standalone. I’ve never wanted to write a sequel or a series because I always have new ideas, new characters, and new worlds to explore. If I tried to reopen a story with some of the same characters from a previous novel, I’m not sure I could make it fresh.

The story of Façade opens in 1999 when the main characters, Rachel and her sister, Imogen, are still in their teens and their baby brother drowns at the family home The Old Rectory. Grief shatters the family except for Imogen, who escapes to live abroad with her musician boyfriend, Simon, who she later marries. Fast forward twenty years and Simon dies in a mysterious accident in Ibiza. Imogen returns, bitter and resentful and determined to reclaim from her family what she believes should be hers. The carefully constructed veneer that has kept the lid on secrets and held the family back from disintegrating begins to shatter and Rachel and her teenaged daughter, Hannah face unexpected loss and danger.

I always try to make my novels multi-layered. On the surface, I hope readers will find them gripping page turners with multiple mysteries to be solved but, for book club discussion, and those who like to reflect on what they read, there are deeper underlying themes. In Façade these include memory, property and houses, and the meaning of home.

Your novels all sound fascinating. Why did you choose that genre?

It seems amusing to me now but, when I started writing novels (including ones I’ve abandoned), I just thought I was writing ‘a book’.  I didn’t understand about genre and how important it is for a publisher to be able to target readers, who might enjoy your book. I had to learn fast! A few years ago I won a novel competition and had a one-to-one with a big five publisher. They told me my book was ‘high end women’s fiction with book club potential’ so I was surprised when my publisher categorised After Leaving the Village as a ‘suspense thriller’, which is a sub-division of crime. Since then, I’ve gravitated more towards writing psychological suspense and have read widely in the genre so I can learn from the masters.  Early exponents of this were authors like Daphne du Maurier, Patricia Highsmith, and Barbara Vine but it’s had a huge boost in popularity in the last ten years since Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train  were published. I read widely in the suspense genre to understand the tropes and what works, what doesn’t. Some hugely successful novels are deceptively simple, like Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris, which was a massive million-selling best seller (and is very clever) but others are more literary, such as The Wych Elm by Tana French and Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff – both excellent books.

Psychological suspense suits me because I’m not so interested in violent and gory deaths or in the painstaking work the police undertake to solve a murder. I don’t mind a bit of terror but I’d rather this was in the character’s and reader’s heads. I prefer writing about flawed characters, people who make mistakes or bad choices and, if their life experiences have made them sociopathic, so much the better. I’m fascinated by that too. Personally, I don’t have a problem reading about unlikeable characters but that can be a challenge for a novelist because you have to keep your readers interested in a flawed character, even if they don’t sympathise with them.

Your bio says, “She fled corporate life.” Why was that?

After a degree in English, I went travelling, then joined the British Council as a graduate trainee. Working on the educational and cultural side of  international development was intellectually stimulating and satisfying but quite badly paid so I changed direction. Later on, that turned out to be a good thing because my husband was made redundant and I became my family’s breadwinner while he looked after the children and ran a small business he fitted in around them. I ended up in the Energy industry where my specialisms were HR, Employee Benefits and Pensions. I always wrote fiction in any spare time – late at night or when I was on holiday. In my day job, I did a lot of writing: reports, legal documents, strategy papers and financial analysis. I found it was sapping my creativity and turning my prose into business speak. So, for a few years,  I stopped writing short stories and novels and turned to writing articles instead. My freelance journalism was published in a few newspapers and lifestyle magazines. A highlight was recording some columns I wrote about family life for a BBC Radio programme called Home Truths, presented by the late and lovely John Peel.

As every author knows, if you don’t write it makes you unhappy so, once my children were older, I decided to quit my job and go back to university to study for an MA in Creative Writing. I don’t believe writers need to do a course like this – there are other paths – but, for me, it was because I needed to get my imaginative writing back on track after years of working for big companies. It wasn’t possible to give up paid work altogether, so I carried on with consultancy alongside my studies and, over the next few years, gradually switched to freelance copywriting, which fits in well with writing fiction.

Tell us about the charity, Unseen. How does it go about eliminating slavery from the world?

Unseen is a small UK charity with a big reach and is dedicated to working towards a world without slavery.

Unseen runs the UK’s national Anti-slavery Helpline where victims, survivors and concerned members of the public can get help and advice 24/7. They run safe houses for women survivors and for men. These aren’t just hostels but places where survivors get medical and psychological support and counselling to help their recovery. They run outreach schemes to help people who have been  resettled in the community. They are also working on a project to support child victims of trafficking, which is a particularly tricky area. A high proportion of children rescued from slavery and placed in local authority care abscond and return to their trafficker because they don’t get the specialist support they need.

Unseen also provides training for employers, police forces and medical professionals to help them recognise the signs of slavery and they give advice to government to help them formulate strategies and legislation.

I make a monthly payment to sponsor a room in a safe house. Since becoming an Ambassador for Unseen, I’ve raised over £2,000 from donating a small percentage of my book royalties and from my author talk fees.

Thanks for featuring me, Miriam. It’s been fun answering your questions.

Thanks for answering them, Helen.

***

The publication date for Façade is 17 September 2020.
Pre-order it on Amazon.

Find out more about and get in touch with Helen at:

website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook

Helen Matthews

Categories
Books Reviews

Grab it While You Can

Cultivating a Fuji (Kindle version) is free this weekend.

Cultivating a Fuji also received another lovely review, which ends:

From a difficult and challenging subject matter, Drori has crafted an intelligent, compelling and thoroughly enjoyable book, one that everyone would benefit from reading.

And here’s the new trailer:

Categories
Books Interviews Reviews Social anxiety

Articles and Reviews

There are two more days of the blog tour for Cultivating a Fuji with Rachel’s Random Resources. I’m amazed at the wonderful reviews that have brightened my days, and at all the attention that has been paid to them, as well as to my articles and interviews.

Here they are, so far:

Articles and Interviews (via RRR and elsewhere)

Link Date Title
Joan Livingston 6th May Meet Martin Carter of Cultivating a Fuji

Sue Barnard 10th May ————————–
What’s this thing with social anxiety?
Fiona Mcvie 10th May ————————–
Author Interview
Jen Wilson 14th May ————————–
Cultivating a Fuji from a Historical Aspect
WWBB 15th May ————————–
Quell those Negative Thoughts
B for bookreview 16th May ————————–
Romantic Relationships – the Missing Link
Jo Fenton 16th May ————————–
Themes in Cultivating a Fuji
donnasbookblog 18th May ————————–
Why I chose to write about a guy with Social Anxiety
BetweenTheLines 20th May ————————–
I do like to be beside the seaside

Reviews

Link Date Quotes
Splashes Into Books 13th May This is a very moving story.

There are many other characters and the author does an amazing job of developing them all.

It is an intriguing and thought-provoking story, a very different read with a dramatic twist at the end that had me rethinking assumptions I’d made when reading the earlier part of the book.

The Bookwormery 15th May ————————–
[I] found it to be a moving description of social anxiety and just how traumatic a simple meeting can be for sufferers….yes there’s humour, but I found this to be a sad, poignant and thought provoking tale.
FNM 15th May ————————–
This is a book that is guaranteed to stay with you long after you read it, it is a book that really makes you think with a few surprises along the way.
Jan’s Book Buzz 15th May ————————–
Drori tells a story that can only come from a place of empathy and recognition. It says: “I know you. I see you. I hear you. I understand you.”
Cheryl M-M’s Book Blog 15th May ————————–
I think the way Drori went about this was thought provoking. It’s a stage with Martin smack bang in the middle with a spotlight on him.
In de Boekenkast 16th May ————————–
Cultivating a Fuji is a very touching story about how hard it can be to fit in the crowd. Martin’s character is well-developed and even the minor personalities have their own past and problems in this wonderful story.
Grace J Reviewerlady 17th May ————————–
What a beautiful book! This is a novel I will reflect on time and time again.

This isn’t a ‘preachy’ read; rather it is one of understanding and compassion, and it has brought another excellent author into my world.

Extremely enjoyable, providing much food for thought and, in my humble opinion, no less than five stars will do it justice!

Radzy Writes 17th May ————————–
These scenes were deeply uncomfortable for me, as someone who experienced bullying, so I’d be mindful of how you feel, but it’s written sensitively and in a beautifully validating way.

The thing I appreciated most about this novel was the way the author constructed a novel elevating social anxiety as a real, difficult thing. She either experiences the illness herself or has done her work. Where the Curious Incident with The Dog in the Night-time is a beautiful novel explaining autism, this, for me, is the work to explain social anxiety.

Mai’s Musings 18th May ————————–
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 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.

Book Lovers’ Booklist 19th May ————————–
Author Miriam Drori has written a compelling, heart-warming and thought-provoking UpLit exploration of loneliness and social anxiety.

It was impossible not to be gripped by Martin’s journey, which begins with a business trip to Japan.

And, then there’s a whammy of an ending that’ll leave you gasping…

Nesie’s Place 19th May ————————–
This is Martin’s story but there are multiple POVs to show not everyone thinks badly or only want to ridicule him. People want to help… they just don’t know how.

Cultivating a Fuji is a good read lovers of contemporary and literary fiction will enjoy, and the twisty conclusion will linger long after the story’s end.

What Cathy Read Next 19th May ————————–
Not everyone is without sympathy for Martin either but sometimes, as the book shows, people willing to help him (such as his boss, John) don’t know the best way to go about it or may inadvertently choose the wrong way.

There were some great scenes full of humour…

I really enjoyed the second part of the book in which we learn of Martin’s life following his return from Japan.

Cultivating a Fuji does a great job of highlighting the experiences of those with social anxiety disorder and the challenges they face using the medium of fiction.

Doublestackedshelves 20th May ————————–
I think the resilience Martin inadvertently learned from his school years, sets him on the path he takes, and propels the story forward into a new chapter in his life.

There are plenty of moments of contrition in this book, and the feel is generally cathartic. I did find certain aspects troubling, as I think we are meant to.

From Under the Duvet 20th May ————————–
Miriam Drori has sensitively exposed the reality of living with social anxiety and the impact it has on all involved while creating a character I love in an uplifting, memorable novel.

Cultivating a Fuji by Miriam Drori

Categories
Books Reviews Social anxiety

Dancing with Reviews

Apologies. There is no Word tip today. I’ve been too busy with my new book. Next week…

Cultivating a Fuji is only two days old and already there are several reviews. That’s because of the blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources – a very worthy resource.

What pleases me most about all the reviews so far is that the reviewers understood what I was trying to do with this novel… well, almost.

Here’s a table of the reviews so far:

Website Date Quotes
The Bookwormery 15th May [I] found it to be a moving description of social anxiety and just how traumatic a simple meeting can be for sufferers….yes there’s humour, but I found this to be a sad, poignant and thought provoking tale.
FNM 15th May This is a book that is guaranteed to stay with you long after you read it, it is a book that really makes you think with a few surprises along the way.
Jan’s Book Buzz 15th May Drori tells a story that can only come from a place of empathy and recognition. It says: “I know you. I see you. I hear you. I understand you.”
Cheryl M-M’s Book Blog 15th May I think the way Drori went about this was thought provoking. It’s a stage with Martin smack bang in the middle with a spotlight on him.
In de Boekenkast 16th May Cultivating a Fuji is a very touching story about how hard it can be to fit in the crowd. Martin’s character is well-developed and even the minor personalities have their own past and problems in this wonderful story.

One of them has a question I’d like to ponder over.

This review and this review (because it’s on WordPress and Blogger) says, “Drori approaches the topic of social anxiety from the perspective of an outsider, someone living without anxiety, which is an interesting way to go about it.”

Martin does have a voice. It’s true that the novel begins with the views of those around him, but Martin’s thoughts and feelings are there, too.

Cheryl goes on to say, “I wonder if the author decided to approach it this way in an attempt to get more readers or people to relate, and in doing so have a better understanding of social anxiety and how our actions can have an impact on the lives of others.”

I did have something like that in mind. I wanted readers who had met someone like Martin to recognise what they might have thought about him before trying to understand how Martin feels.

But Martin’s point of view comes out strongly, and suggestions that he doesn’t have feelings are raised and refuted by characters in the novel and shown to be false by Martin himself.

Cultivating a Fuji by Miriam Drori

 

 

Categories
Books Israel Reviews

The Boring News

Hello and welcome to a bit of calm in a turbulent part of the world. Compared to what’s happening to a million people a bit further south, what I have to tell you seems insignificant.

But I wanted to tell you about a book I enyoyed very much.

The Brotherhood

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.The Brotherhood by Jo Fenton is a psychological thriller that had me hooked from the beginning and never let me go.

My review doesn’t do justice to it, but I tried. Basically, I think you should read it.

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This blog will be back with another in the series Letters from Elsewhere on 31st August. See you then!

Miriam Drori

 

Categories
Books Reviews

A Review and a Rant

I read a book that hasn’t been released yet. Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds.

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine WorldsIt’s not rare for that to happen. Authors or publishers often give away a few review copies. But more about that later.

I enjoyed the book and wrote a review, which I put first on Goodreads. This is it:

“I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. This makes no difference to my rating/review of it.

What if…? That’s a question all fiction authors ask many times in the course of writing a story. It can lead to: What if character A met character B? Or: What if X happened to Character A? The premise of this novel is much more unusual: What if two bumbling Victorian detectives found themselves having to solve a mystery in the world (or worlds) of Norse mythology?

Of course, if I’d read the first book in this series, Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab, I wouldn’t have been so surprised by the notion. But I’m sure I’d have found the story just as fascinating and the humour just as appealing. The writing is excellent; descriptions, dialogue and plot are, too. And I was happy to learn something of a world I’ve never examined.

Occasionally, the language seemed unfitting for a Victorian English gentleman, and that would tend to make me award the novel 4.5 stars. For example, Barnabas calls women Ms rather than Miss or Mrs; temperatures are in Centigrade rather than Farenheit; and he uses that annoying (to me) US expression, “off of.” But mostly, I was happy with the choice of words; I don’t expect the dialogue in a modern book to sound exactly as it would in times gone by, and there are enough hints in the novel of the period the detectives came from.

What next? I do hope Barnabas and his assistant, Wilfred, get to India at some stage of their journey.”

And then, as I have often done in the past, I copied my review to Amazon US and Amazon UK… or at least I tried to.

Amazon US informed me that I can’t leave a review for a book that hasn’t been released yet.

Amazon UK informed me that I haven’t bought enough on the site to be able to leave a review. On further investigation, I discovered that I’m supposed to have spent at least £40 in the last twelve months.

Both of these rulings are new and they don’t make sense to me.

If Amazon continue to have a pre-order feature, then they should allow pre-release reviews. Otherwise, how can potential readers determine whether they want to pre-order?

And I wanted to make my review visible to UK customers, who would pay to buy the book, if they could see read reviews. In other words, I don’t think Amazon should only allow reviews from those who buy on the site, because those reviews could influence others to buy.

But the mighty Amazon has decreed and we dwarves must bow to them. END OF RANT.

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds is released by Crooked Cat Publishing on 4 September, 2018.

There will be two more blog posts this week – on Tuesday and Friday. What a busy week this is! Happily so. I wish you a happily busy week, too!

Running up stairs