Spiritual Lighthouse: The Dream Diaries Of Ann Marie Ruby | A Sacred Take On Dream Meanings Through Author Experience

***This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase the product using the link then I get paid at no extra cost to you. I only provide links to products I really enjoy, so you can be assured that it’s a positive recommendation from me!***

Thank you first of all to the wonderful Ann Marie Ruby, who gifted me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.

Spiritual Lighthouse: The Dreams Diaries Of Ann Marie Ruby
Author: Ann Marie Ruby
Genre: Travel guide
Published: 14th December 2017

Synopsis

Do you believe in dreams? Do you believe in reincarnation? What do scientists have to say about this topic? What do the mystics say about dreams? What about the religious scholars? The soul walks into a parallel world where the past, the present, and the future exist in the same universe. A page turner for all whom are but seeking the answers.
Forty nights of dreams have come alive through the pages of this book. All forty nights are short stories within each chapter as they had come to me within my dreams. I have traveled through mythological time periods through the Abrahamic religions through the modern times, all within this parallel world.
Travel with me as I take you on a journey through time where the past, the present, and the future walk in union. The mystics, the philosophers, the scientists, and the religious scholars, all have walked upon this path. You too can take a journey with them as you travel through this one of a kind book now published. For the first time in paperback, I give you my Spiritual Lighthouse: The Dream Diaries Of Ann Marie Ruby.
(Taken from Goodreads)

My Review

Dreams have been of great curiosity to me since I made the connection between my sleeping thoughts and my waking needs. Although they don’t necessarily predict the future for me or anything like that, I often use my dreams to identify areas of my life that need to be worked on. I think this was why I was initially interested in Spiritual Lighthouse: The Dream Diaries Of Ann Marie Ruby – to see how someone else interprets their dream meanings and what can be learnt from that.

Cover image for Spiritual Lighthouse: The Dream Diaries Of Ann Marie Ruby
Cover image for Spiritual Lighthouse: The Dream Diaries Of Ann Marie Ruby

It’s obvious from reading that Ann Marie Ruby is a compassionate and understanding soul, which is something that really comes through within in the book. It feels quite religious in tone and content as many of her dreams have a religious theme within them and prayers are included within chapters, however it’s accessible for all, regardless of religion or belief. Christians, Jews, and Hindus will find it easiest to relate to through the many relevant focuses within, however I’d say that those from other religions will be able to relate as well providing they have some sort of spiritual nature within themselves. Even as an Atheopagan I was able to relate and enjoy the book, replacing the concept of ‘creator’ with ‘nature’ to suit my own beliefs. I imagine that atheists and non-spiritual people might struggle, however they will most likely not be reading it in the first place.

The book is quite long but split into short, digestible chapters, each describing one of 40 meaningful dreams that Ann Marie Ruby has experienced. Each chapter starts with an image of a lighthouse and a relevant quote from the author. It’s one of those books that’s easy to put down and pick up again, and could be read as a sort of ‘dream a day’ type of book, or as one might read a novel. The writing flows well and I was struck by the poignant descriptions and absorbing situations. Some of the content is quite harrowing at times due to the nature of Ann Marie Ruby’s dreams, but each chapter contains a reflection on the experience and a lesson to be learnt which will leave you coming away feeling positive each time.

The only thing I would have liked to have seen more of is references – Ann Marie Ruby mentions on numerous occasions of research she has undertaken, looking at the bridge between spirituality and science. It’s a topic that fascinates me but, being the sceptic that I am, I would have appreciated links to this research so I too could judge the information. Some really interesting concepts are explored from reincarnation to “messages from above”, so to speak, and referenced text would have helped me to see these with my own eyes, rather than through what the author has done.

Overall I really enjoyed Spiritual Lighthouse: The Dream Diaries Of Ann Marie Ruby – even parts such as the prayers which are so wildly different from my own spiritual methods. I’ve learnt a lot from the book and feel encouraged to get more in touch with my spiritual side again, something that I’ve been neglecting lately. If you need some spiritual guidance or you simply have an interest in dream meanings then this a really good book to pick up, and you’ll come away feeling like you’ve made a friend as well.

Purchase Links

If you’d like to purchase Spiritual Lighthouse: The Dream Diaries Of Ann Marie Ruby then you can do so here:

Amazon UK | Amazon US

Author Bio

Ann Marie Ruby is based out of Seattle, Washington and her dreamland is the Netherlands. She believes in dreams, reincarnation, and spirituality. 
As a humanitarian and dream psychic, she released her ninth book, “The World Hate Crisis: Through The Eyes Of A Dream Psychic” in order to spread awareness of hate crimes and the urgency to end this catastrophe. 
As a dream psychic, she also released her seventh book, “Spiritual Lighthouse: The Dream Diaries Of Ann Marie Ruby” explaining in great detail how she is recognized by this title, “The Dream Psychic.” In this book, she details forty nights of her personal dreams from the past, the present, and the future, with prophecies, warnings, and evidence. 
To unite all humans with humanity, she released two non religiously affiliated prayer books for all race, color, and religion, “Spiritual Songs: Letters From My Chest,” and “Spiritual Songs II: Blessings From A Sacred Soul.”
For daily inspiration through words of wisdom, she also released five books of inspirational quotations, “Spiritual Travelers: Life’s Journey From The Past To The Present For The Future,” “Spiritual Messages: From A Bottle”, “Spiritual Journey: Life’s Eternal Blessings,” “Spiritual Inspirations: Sacred Words Of Wisdom,” and “Spiritual Ark: The Enchanted Journey Of Timeless Quotations.”
In her own words: “I am an unknown single spiritually awakened woman who lived the struggles, overcame the obstacles, as I have endured the pain and joy of life as they landed upon my door. I believe in spirituality, soul families, reincarnation, and dreams and love all humans, as all humans are but the creation of The Creator.
I like to be the unknown face to whom all can relate. I want you to see your face in the mirror when you search for me, not mine. For if it is my face in the mirror, then my friend you see a stranger. The unknown face is there so you see only yourself, your struggles, your achievements as you cross the journey of life. I want to be the face of a white, black, and brown, as well as the love we are always searching eternally for.”
Ann Marie Ruby is the author of “Spiritual Travelers: Life’s Journey From The Past To The Present For The Future,” “Spiritual Messages: From A Bottle,” “Spiritual Journey: Life’s Eternal Blessings,” “Spiritual Inspirations: Sacred Words Of Wisdom,” “Spiritual Songs: Letters From My Chest,” “Spiritual Ark: The Enchanted Journey Of Timeless Quotations,” “Spiritual Lighthouse: The Dream Diaries Of Ann Marie Ruby,” “Spiritual Songs II: Blessings From A Sacred Soul,” and “The World Hate Crisis: Through The Eyes Of A Dream Psychic.”
Aside from writing her books, Ann Marie Ruby is also a blogger. Her blog has been named as one of the top 75 spiritual blogs worldwide of 2018 and 2019. As a blogger, she writes all about spirituality, inspiration, lifestyle, travel, news events, amongst other topics. She has also collaborated with various brands including film companies and products.
(Taken from Amazon)

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website | Goodreads

Advertisements

Culture Smart! Colombia | An Insightful Guide to Colombian Life

*Thank you to Lena Mistry of Kuperard Publishers & Distributors for allowing me to take part in this blog tour! I received a free ebook copy of Culture Smart! Colombia in exchange for an honest review.

Culture Smart! Colombia title image

Author: Kate Cathey
Genre: Travel guide
Published: 1st May 2019

SYNOPSIS

Colombia has a spectacular and variant landscape, embracing tropical beaches, highland plateaus, the rugged, snow-capped peaks of the Andes, arid deserts, and dense Amazonian jungle. Colombian society is equally diverse. Stylish, cosmopolitan cities coexist with poverty in the beautiful countryside. As a result of the 16th-century Spanish conquest, modern Colombia’s multiethnic society is a synthesis of Spanish, indigenous, and African traditions—evident in the music, in the food, and in Barranquilla’s famous Carnival. The Colombian people are emerging from decades of crushing civil war and lawlessness with their spirits unbroken. Animated, lighthearted, and ever ready to enjoy the moment, they are looking to the future with hope and are eager to share their rich and beautiful country with the outside world. This pocket-sized book reveals Colombia’s key customs and traditions, examines life at home and at work, and introduces some distinct and delicious culinary quirks. There is also advice on safe travel, vital information on how business is done, and how to communicate effectively across the cultural divide.

MY REVIEW

I was given a choice of books of the Culture Smart! series to review and I chose this one as I have an interest in Colombia already – I’m currently learning Spanish and have made a Colombian friend who I practise the language with. It’s a place I’d love to visit, but I’m also aware that due to its history you need to know what you’re doing when you’re out there.

Given the usual type of travel guides that I’ve become accustomed to, I had a good idea in my mind of what to expect from this book. I imagined it would tell me the best places to visit, some key things to be aware of, and useful tips for enjoying my stay. It delivered on all of those, but also provided so much more that usually I wouldn’t consider in a travel book.

Cover image of Culture Smart! Colombia
Cover for Culture Smart! Colombia

Culture Smart! Colombia starts by focusing on the geography and history of the country, which is very rich and complex. It reads like a true exploration rather than a guide, not only giving the most vital points but also the background to understand it all. From the first chapter alone I gained a real insight into why the country has been built up the way it has, and an explanation behind the very family and relationship-focused values of the local community, which I would say is quite different from the less socially-designed British values I’ve grown up with.

Also explored is the collection of attitudes that Colombians share, from the obvious to the much quirkier. It’s the sort of information that you tend to wish you’d known from hindsight – information you might learn the awkward or hard way when travelling in a foreign country. After reading I now feel much more confident that I’ll come across as less of an alien when I visit, given that I can now appreciate how relationships are formed and what is considered crucial as part of this process. One thing I learnt is that slow-paced talk, including small talk, is so important out in Colombia and necessary to create positive relationships – wildly different from the British “say as little as possible then get out of their personal space” attitude that I’ve become so accustomed to! This information has surely prevented a whole host of awkward encounters on my behalf.

As well as this the book covers a lot of what you’d expect – the sorts of food you can eat, the festivals you might take part in, and the best places to visit and explore. It works as a guide for all, giving tips to the tourist whilst also helping out any readers that may be staying much longer, or potentially moving out there. There’s even a section on doing business in Colombia, which is highly useful for anyone that might end up working there, even if only temporarily. It doesn’t dress up the country as purely wonderful; Colombia’s unique beauty is acknowledged, but there’s no room for naivety as safe practice is described for all areas of the visit.

Although some of the information is hard-hitting, particularly when reference the violent activities of the past, I really feel like I’ve come away well-versed in Colombian life despite having never been there before. The information was all relevant, and covered so much that I know I’ll be taking the book out there when I inevitably visit. I don’t think any more detail could really have been given – the only thing I felt could have been improved was the photography, which is all in black and white and so I feel takes away from some of the vibrancy of the culture.

After reading Culture Smart! Colombia, I’m intrigued to purchase the rest of the series – the preparation the book has given me is far higher than any other travel book I’ve read. Information is nuanced, and clearly shows what a traveller needs to know when visiting Colombia. I’m now even more excited to visit the country and I feel safer about it too – something that’s so important when travelling. This one is a definite recommendation from me!

New Culture Smart! titles including Colombia

PURCHASE LINKS

If you’d like to purchase Culture Smart! Colombia then you can do so here:

Amazon US

AUTHOR & SERIES BIO

Kate Cathey is a writer and anthropologist. Born in the USA, she attended Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where she studied Art History, and later graduated with a B.A. in World Arts and Cultures, concentration in Anthropology, from the University of California, Los Angeles. Since then, she has travelled extensively in Latin America, researching and writing about regional cultural and culinary traditions. In 2009 Kate moved to Bogotá, Colombia, where she directed cultural travel programs and was a contributor to Bogotá’s English-language newspaper, The City Paper.

Culture Smart! guides are written for people who want more than just the nuts and bolts of where to stay, what to see, and how to travel. Short, sharp and humorous, they deal with the richly rewarding human dimension of foreign travel by telling you about the beliefs and attitudes of the people you will meet and about situations you may encounter. They help you to understand what makes people tick, the values they live by, and the kind of behavior that will be reciprocated with goodwill and hospitality.

Each guide includes concise chapters on the local customs, traditions and values of the country’s inhabitants, and crucially, the key historical and cultural events that have shaped them. There are sections on social and business etiquette, tips on communication, both verbal and non-verbal, and advice on how to be a good guest.

Our aim is to arm readers with a level of cultural fluency, so that whatever your reason for travelling, each situation may be approached with both confidence and sensitivity.

Brief and thorough, our guides are designed so that they can be dipped into for quick reference as and when needed, or comfortably completed in a few sittings, affording you a comprehensive overview of what you’re getting yourself into before you have even taken off!

Written by long-term expats, journalists, professors and diplomats, Culture Smart! guides have been helping travelers be more than just tourists for over 20 years. With over 100 country guides to date, there are new titles and editions published every year.

Marcel Proust once said, The true voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. We hope that Culture Smart! will help you arrive at your destination with your eyes open.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Culture Smart! Colombia Blog Tour 2019

Moxie – Alex Poppe

***This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase the product using the link then I get paid at no extra cost to you. I only provide links to products I really enjoy, so you can be assured that it’s a positive recommendation from me!***

First off, thank you to Melanie Fraser of Fraser’s Fun House for allowing me to be a part of this Blog Tour! I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Title image of Moxie by Alex Poppe

Author: Alex Poppe
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Published: 30th April 2019

SYNOPSIS

Jax, a magazine-cover model, has had half her face destroyed in a bomb blast. Drowning in whiskey and self-loathing, she must rebuild her life now that her beauty is gone. Part love letter to New York, part commentary on social justice issues, Moxie is a timely and raw portrayal of the sometimes self-destructive search for identity and redemption.

MY REVIEW

It’s so refreshing to read books where the main character isn’t much of a role model, and Moxie by Alex Poppe certainly fits into this category. Jax is a blunt and brutal character whose actions are eyebrow-raising at times and whose views towards life are cynical and often misguided. She’s experienced a trauma that she hasn’t yet risen from, and Moxie is her journey as she comes to terms with her new life.

There are a lot of interesting things to say about Poppe’s writing, which is modern and unusual in a very good way. Moxie is written in the first person, including much commentary from Jax, and with a peculiar style that sees a lack of first-person pronouns (similar to how Geralt talks in The Witcher, if anyone has played the game). I found this quite odd at first, but once I’d got used to it I enjoyed a more original writing style and it actually really suited Jax as a character, who is a woman of few words at times and likes to get across her point without the frills. However, this forthright writing style is combined with the most beautiful of poetic description, including phrases such as “A kite writing on the blue above with its red tail becomes my North Star”. Poppe has a way with words that I wish I did; she can take a simple moment and describe it in a way that brings it to life both visually and emotionally.

Generally the book is very emotionally charged, and switches between these emotions very quickly – within a single page we can go from raw sexual desire to acute self-loathing, and then suddenly we’re back to Jax’s reserved and candid personality. It’s a real rollercoaster of a read and I enjoyed being able to explore so many facets of the Jax’s mind, among other characters. Generally these minor characters were developed and I liked how they were used to progress the storyline, though I did find myself getting confused by several due to how quickly they would flit in and out of existence. I particularly liked the exploration of characters from Jax’s past… Poppe is excellent at the “show not tell” rule when it comes to backstory, using suggestive scenes to piece the puzzle together for the reader.

Cover image of Moxie by Alex Poppe
Cover image for Moxie by Alex Poppe

Despite her abrupt nature and overly-expletive dialogue Jax is a relatable and interesting character who deals with many things during the course of the book, such as grief of the self, discrimination, and loss of her sexual experiences. The reactions to her from other characters are intriguing and made me really feel for Jax – simple walking past someone could induce a torrent of hurtful words that she’s expected to take on the chin. Being British (read: highly reserved and awkward when encountering members of the public) I couldn’t believe that some of these things could be said by strangers (or anyone), but it really put it into perspective to me just what disabled and disfigured people must experience on a regular basis.

Though shocking and in-your-face at times, Moxie is an enjoyable read that makes an important commentary on our society and the value of beauty above other things. It showed to me an injustice that sadly is all too prevalent, and highlighted how important the sense of self really is to an individual. Moxie is a beautifully written story of self-realisation and the perspective Poppe brings through her writing is something we all need to understand and experience.

PURCHASE LINKS

If you’d like to purchase Moxie then you can do so here:

Amazon UK |Amazon US |Book Depository

AUTHOR BIO

Alex Poppe, author of Moxie, profile image

Alex Poppe is the author of the debut novel Moxie (2019) and the story
collection Girl, World (2017). Girl, World was named a 35 Over 35 Debut Book Award winner, First Horizon Award finalist, Montaigne Medal finalist, and was short-
listed for the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize. It was also awarded an Honorable Mention in General Fiction from the Eric Hoffer Awards. Her short fiction has been a
finalist for Glimmer Train’s Family Matters contest, a nominee for the Pushcart
Prize, and commended for the Baker Prize. Her non-fiction was named a Best of
the Net nominee (2016), a finalist for Hot Metal Bridge’s Social Justice Writing
contest, and has appeared in Bust and Bella Caledonia. She is an academic writing
lecturer at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani and is working on her third
book of fiction with support from Can Serrat International Art Residency and
Asociacíon Cultural LINEA DE COSTA DUPLO Artist in Residency programs.

Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

Moxie by Alex Poppe blog tour details

Book Of Panacea – Tineke Peeters

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase the product using the link then I get paid at no extra cost to you. I only provide links to products I really enjoy, so you can be assured that it’s a positive recommendation from me!

Title image of Book of Panacea by Tineke Peeters

Author: Tineke Peeters
Genre: Young adult/fantasy
Published: February 2019

Earth is on fire – the sun shines bright, yet it hasn’t stopped for several days now, and it’s all because Apollo is missing. Only after the Earth succumbs to its fate do some of the gods realise what has happened, but by then it’s too late. A couple of generations later Panacea, Apollo’s granddaughter, must fight to stay invisible from the rest of the gods, yet complete her training as a goddess and discover her true powers (whilst also preventing the mischievous Hades from getting his own way). With only a handful of family and friends to support her, will she manage to keep everything in line?

Young adult is a fairly new genre for me – although I sometimes read it has a teenager I tended to gravitate towards adult novels as they were more accessible for me, and I haven’t really read much YA since. It was nice to delve back into it with Book of Panacea though, especially with the Greek gods slant to the story.

Tineke Peeters has a fascinating imagination as an author and I absolutely loved the concept of the story – I already have an interest in the Greek gods, but the initial premise of them accidentally destroying Earth was what drew me in. I felt this was a really original idea and it worked well, and paved the way for an interesting plot that contained lots of twists and turns. The topic is archaic but Peeters comes at it from a very modern angle, with gods and goddesses that wear everyday clothing and speak very much like we do. I felt this made the characters relatable and put a different spin on them than the usual one we’re so often presented with.

Cover image of Book of Panacea by Tineke Peeters
Cover image of Book of Panacea by Tineke Peeters

The character development was what I liked most about the book – each character was interesting with their own quirks, and the chemistry between characters was really focused on. Panacea is a relatable main character for a young teenager, struggling not only with goddess issues but also many things normal teenagers struggle with as they hit puberty. Hades was also interestingly written, as was Panacea’s trusted group of friends and family. My favourite character of course was Apple, a sort of baby Cerberus dog, who was really brought to life throughout and had so much personality from the very beginning.

I wasn’t so much of a fan of the writing style – not being well-versed in YA, it was very different to the style I usually go for in the women’s fiction and psychological thrillers I’m often drawn to. I felt the editing could have tighter, but generally the writing style was easy to read and very dialogue-focused, which I would say suits the tween age range the best. It’s a good length – not too long, but long enough to add depth to the story. There’s nothing particularly graphic involved but there are multiple instances of swearing – these are mostly mild, but it’s good to take note of if you are considering buying this book for a younger person.

Book Of Panacea deals with multiple themes from discovering oneself, growing up, and falling in love for the first time. These are all themes I wished I’d read more about in secondary school as all three of them were relevant to my teenage years, and the book takes them all seriously. Book Of Panacea will interest those into fantasy and the Greek gods most of all, and is also worth considering for any tweens/teenagers struggling with any of the themes mentioned above. An enjoyable read that’s one to check out!

If you’d like to purchase Book Of Panacea then you can do so here:

Kindle or Paperback version

Thank you to Tineke Peeters for allowing me to receive a digital copy of Book Of Panacea for review. If you enjoyed my review or have your own comments about the book then please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and pin!

You can also check my other recent book reviews here:

Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery

RISE – In Pursuit Of Empowerment

The Clouds Beyond Us

Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery – Jenny Colgan

***This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase the product using the link then I get paid at no extra cost to you. I only provide links to products I really enjoy, so you can be assured that it’s a positive recommendation from me!***

Title image for review of Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Author: Jenny Colgan
Genre: Romance/women’s fiction
Published: October 2016

I’m a big fan of women’s fiction and chick lit but somehow Jenny Colgan managed to pass me by (and I’m still not sure how!). This is the first book I’ve read by her, which I encountered in one of our local train station library shelves, and I’m certain it won’t be the last!

Polly Waterford lives on a beautiful island in Cornwall called Mount Polbearne, where she resides with her fiancée, Huckle, and their adopted pet puffin, Neil, in a converted lighthouse by the sea. Her passion is baking, and she works all year round at Little Beach Street Bakery to provide the best baked goods in the area. Her life is busy but she loves it (her career is her biggest focus) and all seems to be going swimmingly until best friend Kerensa suddenly drops a bombshell on her… One which could affect Polly’s friendship group, relationship with Huckle, and more. Despite her hectic schedule she needs to support Kerensa with facing up to a potentially devastating situation whilst also keeping her business and relationship happy, and all in the run-up to Christmas.

Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery is actually the third in the series by Jenny Colgan which revolve around Polly and Huckle, however is easily read as a standalone novel due to very good explanations of character and backstory. I hadn’t read either previous novels before this one but will definitely be going back to them now. Colgan has a beautifully cosy writing style which I just love – so easy-going, even when topics get a little difficult, and she strikes the perfect balance between light-hearted humour and more serious emotional issues.

Cover image for Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
Cover image for Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery

I found the plot to be surprisingly emotionally engaging, with some interesting sub-plots as well. Without giving away any spoilers the main plot deals with a difficult moral topic and whilst some readers may not enjoy how it’s dealt with it, it gives several viewpoints into how something like that can be approached. Colgan has done really well at portraying an ethical battle with oneself in a genre that sometime’s (wrongly) considered too fluffy or trivial, so I appreciated that she’s written such a plot despite feeling like I would have dealt with it differently.

I think what really makes Colgan’s writing is how much she brings her characters and settings to life – it’s obvious from her descriptions that she has a strong understanding and a passion for Cornwall! Polly is such a wonderful main character to follow and I felt that she’s highly relatable; so many of us nowadays struggle with work-life balance and also sometimes communication with others. Other themes she explores are moving forwards, loyalty to others, and fear of commitment – again, relatable and engaging topics that many of us will know from experience.

All of the characters in the book felt well-developed despite me not reading the previous two books, and I came away from reading feeling like I’d made a huge group of friends. Huckle was wonderful, and seeing things through Kerensa’s and her husband Reuben’s eyes was fascinating. I felt connected to many of the characters… Even those that had just stopped into the bakery for a few times and weren’t featured any more than that. I also loved the addition of Neil the puffin – such a cute idea for a character and with a purpose to the story, rather than just there because the author thought it would be fun. Sometimes too many characters can spoil the story, so to speak, yet this certainly isn’t the case here.

It’s probably fairly obvious what my verdict on Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery is – I don’t even like Christmas all that much and yet there I was enjoying a novel about it! This is a wholehearted “go out and read this book now!” from me, and reading it has inspired me to move onto the many other Jenny Colgan books. She also includes recipes for tasty treats in the back of each book, so there’s really no reason not to give this one a read!

If you’d like to purchase Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery or any of the previous books in the Little Beach Street Bakery collection then you can do so here:

Little Beach Street Bakery

Summer At Little Beach Street Bakery

Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery

If you enjoyed my review or have your own comments about the book then please let me know in the comments! You can also check my other recent book reviews for the women’s fiction genre here:

The Summer Of Chasing Dreams – Holly Martin

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Seven Things I Like In A Book (Book Tag)

Last week I was tagged by My Bookish Blog to write about several things I like in a book which is such a great idea for a post! Sometimes I forget about why it is I’m so passionate about reading, so it’s nice to remind myself of those things that really make me smile when I’m enjoying a good book. I found it hard to narrow it down to seven but here goes!

Strong character development

Character development is so important to me because I need to care about the characters to want to read the book. I don’t just want to know about what’s happening in the present plot though – I want to know the history of the character, why they are the way they are, their likes and dislikes, their quirks. I want to feel like I know them as a person, rather than just witnessing them complete a journey.

Atonement and On Chesil Beach - books by Ian McEwan
Ian McEwan is one of my favourite authors – I haven’t yet found a book by him I didn’t enjoy

Unreliable narrator

Unreliable narrators are definitely a Marmite device within storytelling but for me I absolutely love them (when done well). Ian McEwan never fails to entertain me with his knack for writing them, and I’ve read many a novel where I’ve been well and truly duped by the main character. It fascinates me that a well-written unreliable narrator can completely throw you and lead you off the scent, yet if you read it back again it just seems so obvious. I find it all very clever, and it’s something I’d love to perfect as a writer as well.

Multiple perspectives

I absolutely love books that show the story from multiple perspective as it adds a curious dynamic to the plot and broadens the story for the reader. I love seeing things evolve through different eyes and eventually catch up with one another – it can be frustrating to know what’s stopping a character without themselves knowing, but it’s an interesting tool that helps get the reader completely absorbed in the story. I don’t like too many perspectives because I get confused, but a few just makes it that little bit more interesting.

A selection of books with great literary devices within them
A selection of books that contain multiple examples of my favourite book feaures

Unusual plot structure

The standard plot structure that’s used within many stories is a very good thing, but sometimes I appreciate a book that deviates from it bit, whether it be telling the plot in a different order or going full blown literary fiction and not including a plot at all! I love stories that come from the mind of the character, where not much happens physically, but mentally so much is explored. For this reason I love books that explore mental health and the more philosophical concepts.

Short chapters

I hate to admit it but I’m one of those people that struggles with long, uninterrupted pieces of text… I even struggle to write them because I get distracted so easily! I like chapters to be short and to the point, which not only makes it easier to read but also allows me to dip in and out of the book much more conveniently. I have this thing where I hate ending my reading sesh halfway through a chapter so shorter ones are especially useful during my commute or when I get a quick 10 minute break to read.

Engaging subplots

I’ve already spoken about plot but I find subplots so important as well. I’ve read books before that don’t really have subplots and to me they just feel so flat. Having a couple of interesting subplots not only adds to the main plot but also contributes to better character development which, as I’ve mentioned, is key to getting me hooked.

Two books by Jenny Colgan
Buying a Jenny Colgan book means you get a mini recipe book for free!

Extras!

I’ve always appreciated those authors that go a little bit further with their novels, adding extra things besides the story to entertain the reader. I’ve been reading books by Jenny Colgan recently and I love how she adds recipes at the end of her novels! I also love fantasy novels filled with lore and maps, and pictures included in fiction books – these sorts of things flesh out a world and give yet another medium that the reader can use to delve deeper into the story.

There are so many other things that I love seeing in books, but I’d say these have to be my top seven. I’d also like to tag the following bloggers to write one of these posts as well…. I’m looking forward to comparing our lists! I’d also totally recommend you follow them as I really love their blogs!

The Art And Science Of Worldbuilding

Little Tinkablee Blog

What’s In My Wonderland?

The Caffeinated Reader

The Tattooed Book Geek

What sorts of things do you look out for in a book? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and pin this post if you enjoyed it!

Rise, In Pursuit Of Empowerment

***This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase the product using the link then I get paid at no extra cost to you. I only provide links to products I really enjoy, so you can be assured that it’s a positive recommendation from me!***

First off, thank you to Victoria Robb of Book Lure for allowing me to be a part of this Blog Tour!

Sabine Mathuru's RISE - In Pursuit Of Empowerment title image

Author: Sabine Matharu (featuring 25 women authors)
Genre: Self-help
Published: 4th March 2019

synopsis

Written for and by inspirational entrepreneurial women whose hidden creativity and
business acumen is eager to come out despite facing an array of traumatic
experiences, mindset and domestic battles, RISE – In Pursuit of Empowerment,
published by Reach for Greatness Ltd., is a beacon of hope for all women. Through
the incredible stories of 25 women, you will learn that while obstacles are a given,
you also have what it takes to rise above challenges, create a space and niche for
yourself and turn impossible experiences into incredible opportunities that are
profitable and fulfilling at the same time. RISE – In Pursuit of Empowerment, the first
in a series of 4 books, will teach you:- How to tap into your intuition and inner
strength to overcome stress, grief and trauma – How to take the challenges you have
and turn them into opportunities – How to rise above the noise and come out
victorious – Why your inner woman is a force to be reckoned with and – How to
overcome substantial obstacles to live a more fulfilling and well-balanced life.

my review

Like other books I’ve read recently RISE – In Pursuit Of Empowerment is not a genre I’d usually read, but I’m glad that I branched out into this particular style as it was one I really enjoyed. There’s such an inspiring range of stories from all across the world, and many of them are captivating to read. They cover a variety of different struggles that women face – some universal, such as mental health, poverty, and physical health, and others are struggles unique to women, such as barriers facing education for women in certain countries, and struggles directly stemming from becoming a mother. I’d imagine most if not all women can relate to at least one story in the series, and many men probably can as well.

Cover image of RISE - In Pursuit Of Empowerment by Sabine Matharu

Out of all the stories the one that inspired me the most was written by a woman who had been denied an education as a teenage girl in Pakistan but carried on learning; at just 13 she opened her own free school to allow girls to be educated. Although tiny at the start, she now runs it as a not-for-profit and it’s having a massive impact. In times like the ones we are in currently it’s so powerful to realise that women out there are still managing to overcome the odds and defeat the struggles that try so hard to pull them down.

Each chapter is quite short, and includes an author bio, image, and motivational quote at the end. I found it very easy to just pick it up and read because of this, however in a way I wished the stories were a bit longer – although they covered the initial struggle, the action, and the success, I wanted more detail, especially about the struggling part. Each story gave a snapshot but I found myself wanting to know even more to truly get a flavour of what each barrier must have been like for these women. Thankfully the author bio of each story allows the reader to understand the author further, and makes it easy to research their stories online (which I definitely will be doing!).

There’s one thing I just have to mention which is the design – I adored it! Modern and striking, the book included beautiful starry photos with each motivational quote which I spent a good amount of time just taking in, and the cute star graphics under each title added a really nice finishing touch. Along with such inspiring stories the design really sets the book apart and it’s so pretty you’ll find yourself turning back to those quote pages just to admire the beautiful photography again.

RISE – In Pursuit Of Empowerment is a book that really puts the struggles women face into perspective. Uplifting and motivating, it’s a must read for anyone going through their own struggles, and it may just be the book that makes you realise you can come out of the other side after all.

purchase links

If you’d like to purchase RISE – In Pursuit Of Empowerment then you can do so here:

Amazon UK

author bio

Author of RISE - In Pursuit Of Empowerment, Sabine Mathuru

Sabine Matharu is a passionate business start-up and growth strategist, who
specializes in helping women find their purpose and monetize their unique skills so
that they can build a thriving business.
Her signature program is “The Business Accelerator Mastermind”, that teaches and
supports entrepreneurs to implement an easy to follow methodology around how to
build a long term profitable business without overwhelm and detours.
She also runs “The Greatness Club”, which complements the work she does in her
Mastermind and provides women a platform and springboard for visibility,
networking and lead generation. Sabine comes with years of experience as a corporate
leadership consultant and has worked with over 1000 people
in senior positions.
She firmly believes that it is possible to reach for the greatness that is within
ourselves.

Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Website

The Clouds Beyond Us

***This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase the product using the link then I get paid at no extra cost to you. I only provide links to products I really enjoy, so you can be assured that it’s a positive recommendation from me!***

First off, thank you to Melanie Fraser of Fraser’s Fun House for allowing me to be a part of this Blog Blitz!

The Clouds Beyond Us by Rahf Alrashidi title image with bookcase in background

Author: Rahf AlRashidi
Genre: Short story/poetry collection
Published: December2018

Synopsis

A beautiful and eclectic mix of stories and poetry, as presented by new and exciting author Rahf AlRashidi. This collection of insights into the author’s soul takes the reader on a melancholy journey of loss, heartache and ill treatment, whilst at once telling the story of strength and showing the joy to be found in the aftermath of sorrow. An inspirational read for women across the world.

My review

I’ll admit right now that The Clouds Beyond Us fits in a genre I have never really read before. A combination of short stories and poetry, Rahf AlRashidi’s book is a reflective, creative, and memoir-style book that takes the reader through a journey of adoration, fear, and heartbreak.

Because the genre and style are one I’m somewhat unfamiliar with I was unsure what to expect when I started reading The Clouds Beyond Us. It only took a few pages and I was completely hooked, ready to sink my teeth into Rahf AlRashidi’s story and neglect the outside world for a little while, instead allowing myself to be fully taken in by her words. AlRashidi’s writing style is an interesting one which is influenced both by her creative and medical sides – a lovely combination of both a dreamer and a realist. Poetic concepts are intertwined with medical terminology that makes for a unique read.

The focus of the book is on AlRashidi’s personal relationship with her partner, from the rush of love at the beginning to the breakdown at the end. Even if the audience won’t all be able to relate to the issues within the relationship it’s easy for most to relate to the concept, and the author puts across her feelings and experiences in such a simple yet captivating way. Each story and poem is filled with emotion, and is a beautiful glimpse into the struggles that AlRashidi has been through. I came away from the book feeling like I knew her in a way.

Cover image of The Clouds Beyond Us by Rahf Alrashidi

Despite focusing on quite a heavy topic at times the book ends on a hopeful note, and I didn’t at any point feel weighed down by emotions. Each chapter is short and to the point, making it easy to reflect on what you’ve just read before turning the page. I came away from AlRashidi’s writing feeling positive and inspired, and it helped me to think back to my own past in a creative way again – something I’ve lost touch with since the present life has taken over. This sort of book is perfect for anyone who wants something a bit more introspective and considered, and I think it’s an important read for anyone who may also be struggling within their relationship – to experience similar experiences through someone else’s eyes can sometimes be the thing that opens your own.

The book isn’t just focused on the main subject as AlRashidi explores other aspects of her life as well, such as her family and her studies. She includes a myriad of quotes from recognised figures and other literature which enhance what she says through her own words. I particularly liked how the book was structured in this regard – it’s mostly in order of events but it’s not linear as such as the chapters jump between topics to build up more than just a story. Although some of them link heavily others don’t, which makes it the sort of books that’s easy to pick up, put down, and pick back up again – something I like in a book considering I often read during my commute! I actually found myself reading the entire thing in two sittings because of how easy it is to get into, so be warned you may miss your train stop like I nearly did!

Purchase links

If you’d like to purchase The Clouds Beyond Us then you can do so at the following links:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository

author bio

Rahf AlRashidi is a multi-genre author of short stories and poetry. A medical student from Kuwait, she currently lives abroad to pursue her medical degree. She first began writing short stories at the age of nine, when she lived in Texas, USA. In 2009, the journey towards her dreams began, with writing becoming a part of her life after showcasing her talents as an artist and writer in the District PTA contest in Denton, going on to win first place.

Her mother, a psychologist and an author, has always been and continues to be her source of inspiration and her faithful guide.

Rahf is currently working on her next book.

Twitter | Goodreads

The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old Man – Jonas Jonasson

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase the product using the link then I get paid at no extra cost to you. I only provide links to products I really enjoy, so you can be assured that it’s a positive recommendation from me!

Title image of The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred Year Old Man with bookcase in background
Author: Jonas Jonasson
Genre: Comedy
Published: July 2018

If you’ve already read The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared then you’ll know what a quirky and great writer Jonas Jonasson is. After two more unrelated novels, Jonasson now has another book focused on the wonderfully odd Allan Karlsson – The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old-Man.

Leading on from the first book, Allan has managed to get out of the crazy situations that befell him previously and is now enjoying a relaxing life in Bali with his partner in crime Julius Johnsson. That is until he learns to use a tablet, and suddenly he finds himself interested in the world again. After a birthday mishap involving a hot air balloon and lots of panicked hotel staff members, Allan and Julius find themselves on a ship headed straight to North Korea, and the pair find themselves following a bizarre chain of events that lead them to meet Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, amongst other well-known political characters. Perhaps a calm and hassle-free life isn’t quite what the doctor ordered for Allan yet…

I’ll start by saying I’m a big Jonas Jonasson fan – I’ve read all of his novels to date and eagerly await more. There’s something so original about his writing; the humour is clever and witty and the way he writes is so easy to read. With every book I’ve read of Jonasson’s I’ve found them almost impossible to put down, and have regularly found the bath water I was sitting in to become cold because I’ve been so engrossed in the book!

The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old Man doesn’t fail to disappoint either, and I’d say it’s probably my second favourite of all his books so far. It’s great to be able to revisit the first set of characters he wrote (and clearly loves), and this time round the story is even more bizarre than the first one. I’ve seen a few reviews claiming that it’s too unrealistic but I have to disagree there – whilst many of the situations are astronomically unlikely that’s kind of the point, and the humour Jonasson creates from each one is in a league of its own. I lost count of the moments I laughed out loud (generally you can tell how funny I find a book by how many weird looks I get from my partner – I got a lot whilst reading this one).

What really added to the comedy this time is that Jonasson introduced actual real people into the story – written as characters, of course, but still quite accurate in their actions and talking styles. Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un were written brilliantly as was Angela Merkel, and I looked forward to every scene that had them in. I’m not entirely sure if Trump and Jong Un would agree with me about their fictional selves being hilarious but that just makes it funnier.

I also love the supporting characters that Jonasson brings to life in his books – each one is explored in-depth, and you feel like you really know them whilst reading. Even minor characters who puts so much thought into, and it’s refreshing to read a book by an author that’s really mastered this element of writing. It’s not only the character development that is great but the chemistry between each character, and the dialogue is vivid and engrossing. One thing I’ve found with Jonas Jonasson’s books is that every sentence included has a purpose – there’s no fluff to be found.

The Accidental Further Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old Man really is a book worth reading, as are the other books by Jonasson. With short, digestible chapters and so many twists and turns that you just have to keep reading, this is certainly one to put at the top of your to-read list (just make sure to read the previous book first!).

If you’d like to purchase either of these wonderful stories of Alan Carlsson’s mind-boggling adventures then you can do so here:

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared

The Further Accidental Adventures Of The Hundred-Year-Old Man

I’d totally recommend reading Jonas Jonasson’s other two books as well – you can purchase them here:

Hitman Anders And The Meaning Of It All

The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden

Have you read any of any of Jonasson’s books before? Which one is your favourite, and why did you enjoy it so much? Please let me know in the comments!

You can also check my other recent book reviews here:

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

The Summer Of Chasing Dreams – Holly Martin

Choosing Me: Love Letters From A Poet – Bill Weber