Book Review: The Daydreamer Detective by SJ Pajonas

April 8, 2016 Blog Tour, Book review 9 ★★★★½

Book Review: The Daydreamer Detective by SJ Pajonas

I became absolutely fascinated with Japan in S J Pajonas contemporary romance Summer Haikus and when I knew she was writing a cozy mystery also set in Japan, it was a no brainer that I would sign up to participate in the blog tour!  This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours, it runs from 4 till 8 April and you can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours:

Quick note this is a long post but I didn’t want to leave any of it out as I loved the extras!  So you get the review, then an extract and last but not least the author’s top 5 traditional Japanese Dishes.  Yum, my mouth was drooling!


Book Review: The Daydreamer Detective by SJ PajonasThe Daydreamer Detective by SJ Pajonas
Published by self published on 31 March 2016
Genres: cosy mystery, Mystery, Mystery & Detective
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour
Buy on Amazon

Luck? Forget it. Mei Yamagawa is fresh out of it. She's just been downsized from her 3rd job in five years and her bank account is dry. Now, to keep her head above water, she must leave Tokyo and move back to her rural Japanese hometown. And there's nothing worse than having to face your old rivals and ex-boyfriends as a failure while starting life over as a farm girl.

But when her best friend's father is murdered, and her best friend is named the main suspect, Mei turns her daydreaming ways towards solving the crime. Between dates disguised as lunches with the town's hottest bachelor chef, searching for clues, and harvesting sweet potatoes, Mei has a lot of non-paying work cut out for her.

Will she catch the killer before her bad luck turns worse? Or will she fry in the fire with the rest of her dreams of success?

CRIME Murder Mystery Refreshing Romance


First Line of The Daydreamer Detective by SJ Pajonas:

“You’re one of our finest, most industrious, and successful team members.”

My Thoughts on The Daydreamer Detective by SJ Pajonas:

I flat-out loved the setting in this book. SJ Pajonas is solely responsible for making me fall in love with Japan and has sent me on a quest to learn more and more about this fascinating country. I loved the way she used Japan as a setting for her cosy mystery as that way I was able to combine my love of amateur sleuthing while also soaking up some more Japanese culture.

The main character – Mei – is a twenty-six year old whose life is very different to what she thought it would be. She slaved at school, worked hard at college but due to the economic crisis has been unable to get into a work environment that suits her skills. I think this is an issue that a lot of twenty something year-olds will be able to relate to as unfortunately I see it happening a lot. After another unsuccessful job, she returns home to her mother to help at the family farm, feeling a failure.

The funniest thing about Mei is that she is a massive daydreamer. In her head, she carves out whole new worlds and directions for her life. It is so funny, all the more so as I do it myself all the time. I’m well used to that annoyed look that I get whenever I space out from a conversation so I loved seeing it play out in a book. Like Mei I’m a daydream believer and you can keep all your mediation, you can’t beat a good daydream for a little escapism 😀

Mei gets pulled into a mystery due to the death her friend’s father. As she feels she has no purpose or meaning in her life, plus she also wants to help her friend, she pulls a Jessica Fletcher and starts investigating.

If I were to put in order what I loved about book, I’d say setting, characters and relationships. These three things kept me reading and engrossed in the book. The mystery was very much second to those factors but I still really enjoyed seeing how all that came together.   There is also a very captivating romance which I fully believed in.

So overall this has a little of everything for me; a character I could relate to, an absorbing rural Japanese setting, a mystery to sink my teeth into and a romance that is slowly developed but had me thinking it could be something very, very special for both people.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: four-stars


Who should read The Daydreamer Detective by SJ Pajonas?

I recommend this to you if you like Japanese settings, well-built up relationships (not just romance but family relationships, friends, etc) and cosy mysteries.


banner Lola's Blog Tours


Thanks to Lola’s Blog Tours for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.  If you want a little flavour of this book, make sure you read the teaser and extract below!


Teaser The Daydreamer Detective 2

Excerpt from The Daydreamer Detective by SJ Pajonas:

Every time I went into the barn during harvesting, I avoided the loft, but at the end of the week, I was finally ready to climb up there and inspect the remains of my past. The stairs creaked as I ascended into the dusty space above the tractor we used in the spring. On the right, under the window, sat the old couch I used to sit on and read, the spot where Tama and I slept together for the first and many times after. A plastic tarp covered it, and I could imagine the upholstery underneath was pristine. Mom was pretty thorough about taking care of this place. My old canvasses, some half drawn on or painted, others blank, leaned against the adjacent wall, next to my easel and tackle boxes of paints. On the left, Mom’s fire-proof file cabinets sat against the wall, carrying her precious documents and other things she needed to run the farm.


The Mount Fuji painting used to take up the space to the rear of my canvasses, but the wide wall stood empty, begging to be filled. I grabbed the top tackle box and popped it open. Tubes of acrylic paint lined the top tray, like I’d left them in there yesterday. Several were unopened and moved when I squeezed them, but a few had seized up. Wow. I was lucky! I’d heard acrylic paint could last ten years or more, especially if they were kept in the fridge, but the temperature fluctuated up here and I expected worse.


I flipped through the few canvasses left and placed one on the easel. I had scratched a few hasty pencil sketches onto it, but nothing seemed familiar. Hmmm. I turned the canvas around 180 degrees and there! Yes. I had planned to paint a lake with a torii gate and a mountain in the background. I never understood this about myself. I loved modern life. I loved my phone, my computer, and the city. Yet, when it came to painting, I only ever wanted to capture the world in its splendor, natural and real. I didn’t paint people. I didn’t paint animals. I hadn’t tried abstract or modern, though I loved to look at both. I was attracted the most to natural landscapes.


I was a host of perplexing contradictions.


Top 5 Traditional Japanese Dishes by SJ Pajonas:

When Mei first meets Yasahiro, the town’s newest bachelor chef, in The Daydreamer Detective, it’s not all fireworks and lovelorn looks across the room. She’s been a fan of city-style fast food straight from the convenience store for the past ten years or more, and Yasahiro’s Japanese slow food cuisine makes her want to roll her eyes. In the beginning, she’s very skeptical, and even though he’s annoyed by her behavior, he still wants to prove to her that his food is better than anything you can buy at the local 7-Eleven.
When I think of typical traditional Japanese dishes, my mouth starts to water and I seek out the ingredients at my local grocer. Skipping over fresh, hot rice from the rice cooker, these are my top 5 traditional Japanese dishes.
  1. Miso Soup – A staple at many Japanese meals, miso soup, made from miso paste dissolved in dashi stock and garnished with seaweed and tofu, is a light but hearty hot soup that is consumed at any time of the day. I usually make mine with packets from the store, but homemade is even better.
  2. Sushi – Of course sushi! Probably one of the most well-known Japanese foods outside of Japan. It’s rice and raw fish or vegetables, rolled up in vinegared rice, and wrapped in nori seaweed. I make it at home occasionally, but I love it fresh from my favorite Japanese restaurant. In Japan, sushi was once “fast food,” eaten standing up with your fingers. Now, it’s that AND it can also be upscale and gourmet.
  3. Tempura – Possibly one of my favorite Japanese foods, tempura refers to vegetables, fish, or meat, breaded and deep-fried, usually served with a dipping sauce and rice, but also can be put into noodle soup dishes. Sweet potato tempura is my all-time favorite. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!
  4. Yakitori – Walk any of the city streets in Japan and you’ll smell it, the sweet aroma of meat, fish, or vegetables cooked over charcoal. Chicken and beef yakitori, small bits on tiny wood skewers, are the most popular versions of yakitori. You’ll see them cooking over hot charcoals and someone diligently flipping them and fanning the smoke away. I love eel yakitori. Mmmm. And in the autumn, mountain vegetables cooked over charcoal are especially delicious.
  5. Soba and Udon – I had to put these two noodles together because they’re both quintessential Japanese dishes. Udon are white wheat noodles, usually thick and plump. Soba are darker, buckwheat noodles, usually cut thin. Both can be served in a variety of ways from cold with dipping sauces, in a bowl of soup or with curry ladled over them, or fried up with vegetables or meat. For an on-the-go meal, udon and soba cannot be beat. They’re filling, tasty, and affordable!
Pictured above: Shrimp tempura! Oishii!
Now that I’m so hungry I could die, it’s time to go out and eat some delicious Japanese food! Do you have a favorite Japanese dish? Tell me about it in the comments!


You can buy The Daydreamer Detective here:






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9 Responses to “Book Review: The Daydreamer Detective by SJ Pajonas”

    • trish

      I loved it SJ and I can’t wait to read more of Mei’s adventures! Thank you for a great guest post too. I am so going to try some of those dishes!

  1. Lola

    Thanks so much for being part of this blog tour! And I am so glad to hear you enjoyed this book! I also loved the Japanese setting for this book and it’s so different from most cozy mysteries that take place in the US, it was interesting to see the differences in the Japanese law system. And Mei was such a great main character and I could relate to her. I really liked how her daydreaming thoughts got written out in the book. I liked the romance as well and I am looking forward to see how that develops in the next book. Great review!
    Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Apple Pie Recipe

    • trish

      Thanks Lola for the opportunity to read and review this one! I loved it and I have a new found love for Japan thanks to SJ’s books. The daydreaming was fun and I was all over the romance (even though I had some doubts at a critical stage but remained hopeful.)

    • trish

      Between the well developed relationships and the setting, I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this one to you Katherine.

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