• General Fiction,  In English

    Pearl City: Stories from Japan and Elsewhere by Simon Rowe

    Pearl City: Stories from Japan and Elsewhere is an eclectic collection of short stories. The author, Simon Rowe, has clearly put in an immense amount of effort to ensure that everything about the stories is varied. From Japan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia, to Australia and New Zealand, readers are kept on their toes with the different locales presented. That variety extends to the stories and themes themselves too. Each story is easily able to stand on its own. There isn’t a single story in the collection that relies on another. Not only that, but the actual content remains unique for each individual story too. There are historical stories and…

  • 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…

  • The Little House cover
    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…

  • The Beekeeper of Aleppo cover
    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…