Month: December 2018

Spirit of the Fox Book Review

Spirit of the Fox Book Review

She’s lost her mother and her memory. And if she fails to escape – she’ll lose herself.

Spirit of the Fox Book Review

About Spirit of the Fox

Meiko Wright wants nothing to do with the mother who abandoned her nine years ago. Spending a year in Tokyo, where her mother lives, will not change that fact. But when she takes a nasty fall in a Shinto temple, she wakes with no memory of her mother or anything of her past life. Without any idea who she is, she must rely on the kindness of a local priest who offers to help her as best he can. When the amnesiac Meiko wakes with a strange suspicion that something isn’t right, she vows to escape from a bond she doesn’t truly understand.

After years apart, Meiko’s mother Chieko is determined to make up for lost time. But when her daughter mysteriously disappears, Chieko promises she won’t lose her again. Along the trail of clues, the detectives working Meiko’s case discover a pair of suicides linked by a strange seductress and matching fox tattoos. Afraid her daughter may be next, Chieko visits a local shaman who tells her dark spirits could make her attempt for a rescue impossible.

With time running out, Meiko and her family must uncover the mystery of her mental captivity before she loses herself and her only way home forever.

My Thoughts

Spirit of the Fox is an amazing, thrilling novel from start to finish – I never knew quite what to expect next in this story.

We have Meiko, one of our main characters in this story, who is the daughter of an anthropology professor who specializes in folklore and a psychologist. Her mother (the psychologist) left her at an early age to return to Japan after she divorced her father. Meiko was raised primarily by her father in America (or perhaps she raised him a bit) and she has turned into a responsible, organized, cultured young woman who wants to continue in her graduate studies but needs some time to reflect and figure out what that would look like. She travels to Japan with her father (who will be teaching there) and plans to use this time to reflect on her future, document her journey on her blog and perhaps re-build her relationship with her mother. This is when everything makes a turn in the novel.

This is when we are introduced to some of the folklore of the Japanese culture which sends Meiko down a destructive path that we hope her family can rescue her from. The fox plays an interesting role in Japanese culture with both a good fox and an evil fox that plays on men and can be manipulative and destructive. The fox will possess a woman (who is very attractive and has a manipulative personality) and she will spell the ruin of any man. Throughout the novel, we are shown how many times this woman, at no fault of her own, will be ostracized from the community and sometimes forced to leave her home. Her history will follow her everywhere and she is doomed to a life of hatred from other women and never belonging.

It is the symbol of the fox (controlled by one man) and Meiko’s family history that is the center of the story as we soon find out. Meiko is “captured” by a person using the history of the fox and branded with the fox tattoo. She takes on the persona of a controlling, manipulative woman who is out to financially ruin the men on her list. The death toll starts to rise and Meiko’s parents must work together despite their history in order to save their daughter and bring her back to them.

This was an amazing book from start to finish, it was refreshingly different and exciting. I loved how he intertwined the culture and beliefs into the story for some additional learning. Meiko and her captor keep you on your toes, right when you think she may be coming back – he pulls her back into his evil plot. You almost feel lost at the end, that she may never come back but you keep praying that her parents and Grandmother can solve the case. This is a definite must read novel.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

I’m not exactly sure when I decided to become a novelist, but I have always loved fiction. I read it slowly, a plodder in fact as I delve into the dialogue, the descriptions, the scene and setting. While my tastes are pretty eclectic, I am definitely drawn to books that push the limits of reality.

I recently sold the company, Select International, that I co-founded in 1993. We started the company in Guadalajara, Mexico where my wife Mari and I lived and worked for a little over two years with a wonderful group of employees. It was a phenomenal experience; we both learned not only to speak the language but also to embrace the Mexican culture and people.

In the past twenty years I’ve written over a hundred white papers, journal articles, book chapters and even a book, Hiring Great People. But writing technical papers is far removed from writing fiction. There are more constraints — the need to back up your text with results or references and the format is usually clearly outlined, and frankly, somewhat rigid. Fiction, though, is truly a blank page, which is both liberating and terrifying.

Almost ten years ago I got the idea for The Painter of Time, my debut novel. Then, of course, it was just a concept that needed a lot of fleshing out. It meant a lot of research on art history and art restoration, neither of which I had any formal training or experience. But I love doing research and learning new things so it was a natural fit. What I didn’t realize is how hard it is to actually write a good novel. There’s much more involved in the actual craft of writing that I ever expected.

I recently finished my second novel, Spirit of the Fox, which takes place in Japan. It is now available on Amazon!

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Beat the Winter Chill with Family Games from Kroeger

Beat the Winter Chill with Family Games from Kroeger

The weather has definitely taken quite a cold turn, this morning it was a beautiful -20C, I didn’t even want to leave my house this morning it was that cold.

While the snow is beautiful and the holiday season is a special time for families to get together and enjoy each others company, sometimes it can become a bit routine and not so much fun for the youngest members in the house (and to be honest, when its super cold out even adults start to get a bit bored!).

Beat the Winter Chill with Family Games from Kroeger

Canadian games distributer, Kroeger, has a fantastic line up of unique and fun games that also help your child learn and grow. From Rubik’s cards to breakfast cereal to communication – you can find unique games that will suit every member of the household. Not only are the games fun but they improve your communication skills and working together as a family.

Beat the Winter Chill with Family Games from Kroeger

Monster Crunch is the breakfast game that encourages you to play with your food, where the ultimate goal is to see who can eat the most cereal. The perfect game for a home full of boys who love to play with their food and compete all the time on who can eat the most.

This game starts with every player choosing their character – Count Chocula, Franken Berry, Boo Berry, Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy (are any of these sounding familiar yet?). Each of these monsters have their own special powers that can change the rules of the game. Each character also has matching cereal cards and a cereal bowl place card. The ultimate goal of the game is to eat as much of your cereal as possible and this has to be completed in three hands. To start your first hand, you draw twelve cereal cards without showing anyone your cards along with one milk token. The first player will play a card into their cereal bowl and the next player will now play a card of equal or higher value into their own cereal bowl or pass (each cereal card has a number on them). If you do have to pass, you are out for that round but you do get to take and keep a milk token. What are milk tokens? Milk tokens have their own special powers which allow you to combine cards in order to keep playing (bonus!). The hand ends when any player places their last card into their cereal bowl. Once all three hands have been played, you count the total number of cards in your pile – the player with the most cards wins!

This game was easy to follow, a child of six or seven could easily play this game with an older adult or child around to help them if they get stuck. This game was a lot of fun to play together, it was competitive and we were purposefully getting each other out in each hand but we also had a lot of good laughs together (usually at each others expense but it was fun all the same!).

Beat the Winter Chill with Family Games from Kroeger

Rubik’s Battle is a fast paced card game using the unique Rubik’s colours and square designs.

Our youngest was pretty excited to play this game as he has a fascination with the cube itself, which I am sure we can all admit to having despite how difficult it is to solve. This game at first was a bit hard to follow and I had to re-read the instructions several times to understand it myself and then to be able to explain it to my kids. The game is played by shuffling and dealing all of the cards in the pile out to every player. Players will at the same time flip over the top card and place it in the centre so everyone can see the cards. The first player to call out a colour based on their card criteria wins. The criteria is: a colour on their card that is not on any other card OR a colour on every card that is not on their card. They then collect those cards. The game is finished and won when one player has collected all of the Rubik’s battle cards.

This game did seem intimating at first but it is actually quite a bit of fun and really gets you thinking. I definitely suggest reading the instructions several time overs to the players and maybe start by using one of the criteria first until everyone gets comfortable with the rules of the game. Once you are more comfortable, the answers will be flying out of their mouths at lightning speed.

This battle of concentration and wit can be purchased at Toys R Us.

Beat the Winter Chill with Family Games from Kroeger

Cahoots is a bold, colourful card game where players have to work together in order to complete a series of goals (all without communicating what cards you have in your hands). Players MUST work together in order to win (which is opposite to what I originally thought this game would be)- making this a great family game. You can play with two to four players and the recommended age is 10 and up.

You start the game by first setting up the playing area. Each player receives four number cards left face down. Four number cards are placed face up in a row in the middle of the players card. The remaining cards are placed in a draw pile. The goal cards are shuffled and four are placed face up in a row in the middle. When it is your turn to play, you play one card from your hand onto one of the four number card piles (it must either be the same colour or number as the top of the pile). You are aiming to complete the goal cards (ex) three green piles, all odd numbers, etc…You are not allowed to tell each other what numbers or colours you have but you can use other cues like “I have a better card for that pile” or our favourite – “don’t play that pile!”.

I would definitely recommend following the age recommendations on this game (ten years and older) as some of the goals may be harder for younger children. It would be quite difficult to help a younger child out without breaking the rules of the game. That being said, it was an extremely fun game to play and we had to keep stopping ourselves from cheating by giving away the cards in our hands. It is fantastic family bonding game where you are encouraged to communicate and work together to achieve the final goal.

What is your favourite family game to play together that encourages communication and team building?

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned products in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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