In English

  • In English,  Science Fiction

    The Humans by Matt Haig

    The Humans is a book of a peculiar genre. It involves a nameless alien and the technology of their home planet. This would classify it as science fiction. However, unlike the typical science fiction book, The Humans isn’t at all concerned with the technology of this alien species. Instead, it is merely a means to an end in this story. Instead, Matt Haig has chosen to focus on the experiences of our alien friend and their meaning. Those who have read other works from Matt Haig will not be surprised by this – he is a champion of dealing with the human condition and mental illness in his writing. However,…

  • Fantasy,  In English

    Heaven Official’s Blessing Vol. 1 by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu

    Heaven Official’s Blessing by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu (MXTX) comes long awaited by fans looking forward to an official translation. Translated from Mandarin and edited by Suika and Pengie, Heaven Official’s Blessing was originally published online before subsequently being released in print. Now in print in English, this dramatic and heartbreaking story has a lot to share with readers. It is a fantastical story revolving around the gods, ghosts, and the Mortal Realm that their existence depends on. While supernatural in nature, Heaven Official’s Blessing is also very much so about the human condition – including the more negative aspects of life. Be prepared for death and sorrow and for…

  • General Fiction,  In English

    The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

    The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is one of those books you aren’t looking for – instead you pick it up randomly at the bookstore and just happen to take it home. That being said, the author, Mitch Albom, is probably familiar to many. He wrote the popular book Tuesdays with Morrie. The books differ in their genres, non-fiction vs. magical realism, but the tones remain similar. There is a beginning, there is growth, and then there is the emotional ending. No one ever said that Mitch Albom couldn’t write a book to pull at the heartstrings. However, in the case of The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, this is…

  • In English,  Literary Fiction

    Kanazawa by David Joiner

    The story contained with the pages of Kanazawa is both compelling and sometimes frustrating. It’s a story that many (white?) immigrants who live in Japan can appreciate – especially those with Japanese partners. Not unlike Life is Elsewhere/Burn Your Flags, martial conflict and personal identity are a big part of the story. However, the approaches are vastly different. Kanazawa is slow and meandering and the path to the final conclusion is initially obscured. Yet this doesn’t make the story boring. On the contrary, the protagonists dialogue manage to remain engaging throughout. Both the title, and perhaps the cover itself, suggest a cultural story. This is true. Various aspects of culture…

  • In English,  Literary Fiction

    Almond by Won-pyung Sohn

    The debut novel of Korean author Won-pyung Sohn and translated by Sandy Joosun Lee, Almond it is a story about monsters. What is a monster and who gets to decide when someone is a one? In a world where monsters roam, things are not as simple as they appear – even the idea of the monster itself. These issues are at the core of Almond and Sohn has dealt with them beautifully. Through Lee’s translation, the author’s words are preserved with clarity and precision and all events in the book are described with perfect balance. However talking about monsters comes at a price. Almond contains its fair share of gore…

  • Historical Fiction,  In English

    The Little House by Kyoko Nakajima

    Stories that take place during Japan’s peak imperial era are often received critically – and rightfully so. However, The Little House by Kyoko Nakajima, and translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori, is a different kind of book. The story largely takes place through the protagonist’s memoirs of times in the early Showa Era (1926-89) – namely before, during, and a bit after the war. Yet Nakajima approaches the topic with an immense amount of care. The war is neither front and center or ignored. The novel’s memoir style is very fitting for this approach. The world of The Little House is very believable in how it approaches the period as a…

  • In English,  Literary Fiction

    Life is Elsewhere/Burn Your Flags by Iain Maloney

    Life is Elsewhere/Burn Your Flags by Iain Maloney is a sobering and thoughtful book. In particular, in late-2021, the pandemic setting feels almost too close to home. The pandemic has been a lot – for all of us. The losses we have individually and collectively experienced are immeasurable. It will likely be years before we are able to come to terms with what has, and is still happening. As Cormac so eloquently says on page two, “Life is elsewhere. I am elsewhere. But this year death is everywhere. Death is here.” Yet the story is about more than the pandemic. In Life is Elsewhere/Burn Your Flags, many other themes are…

  • In English,  Mystery

    The Miracles of the Namiya General Store by Keigo Higashino

    The Miracles of the Namiya General Store is a special book. Keigo Higashino is a prolific author, but most of his works aren’t published in English. Of the books that are most are mysteries. However, The Miracles of the Namiya General Store is something else entirely. Published by Yen On and translated by Sam Bett, this book is of a genre that is hard to place. It is a coming-of-age/mystery/fantasy kind of situation. One could even argue for magical realism. The variety of themes and wide genre is exactly what makes the book compelling for many types of readers. The Miracles of the Namiya General Store covers a lot of…

  • In English,  Literary Fiction

    The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

    The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri is an outstanding, but haunting book. It’s part of a category of book that many people feel is worn out and overused, stories of people in and escaping war. Yet it manages to stand out in the crowd. Unlike many of such stories, it is not by a specific person’s life. It is also not a Holocaust story. Instead, as the title suggests, this story focuses on the civil war in Syria. The civil war in Syria continues to rage on. Refugees continue to flood into neighbouring countries and across the oceans. As these people are welcomed into new homes, part of the…