Tag Archives: #japan

Before Your Memory Fades by Toshikazu Kawaguchi -a review

before your memory fadesBefore Your Memory Fades by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

The third novel in the international bestselling Before the Coffee Gets Cold series, following four new customers in a cafe where customers can travel back in time.

In northern Japan, overlooking the spectacular view Hakodate Port has to offer, Cafe Donna Donna has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

From the author of Before the Coffee Gets Cold and Tales from the Cafe comes another story of four new customers, each of whom is hoping to take advantage of the cafe’s time-travelling offer. Among some familiar faces from Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s previous novels, readers will also be introduced to:

A daughter who couldn’t say ‘You’re an idiot.’
A comedian who couldn’t ask ‘Are you happy?’
A younger sister who couldn’t say ‘Sorry.’
A young man who couldn’t say ‘I like you.

Published 30 August 2022  |  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

Right now, in front of you in a room that only one person can enter. If you enter it, you will be saved from the end of the world.

If the world were to end tomorrow, which action would you take?

  1. You enter the room.
  2. You don’t enter the room.

I absolutely adore this series of interconnected short stories. Admittedly, the rules around time travel in this book sound absolutely ridiculous and this is acknowledged in the book too. However, it is what it is and you can take it or lump it. Basically, you cannot move from that spot, you have a very short & limited time, and you cannot change the past/future whatever you do/say. So, what’s the point? Well, there is a point as it is illustrated by each story and I will leave you to read them for yourselves 😉

In this third book of the series, the setting changed in location. It is still a cafe owned by a Tokita BUT it is not in Tokyo!! However, we still have most of the staff from earlier books with some new additions. I do recommend that you read them in order as the lives of these people change chronologically in each story. However, each story is really more about the people to took the chance to travel in time. These stories are about their lives and struggles and how/why they made the decision to travel in time despite not being able to effect actual change.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a series I’d truly highly recommend even if time travel isn’t your cup of tea coffee. The writing is gracefully poetic and that’s the English translation! This book really made me wish that I can read it in Japanese; it must be 10x more wonderful in its original language. I am a bit of a cry baby so I did pour out buckets of tears as each story unfailingly squeezed my heart and my tear ducts. They are stories of love, hurt, friendship, death, hopelessness, betrayal, and over all that, hope and life itself. Please do yourself a favour and read them.

My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for gifting me a copy of this book. Thoughts are mine own.

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads

The Peony Lantern: Q&A

I mentioned yesterday in my review of The Peony Lantern that we were able to ask questions to Frances Watts as we read along.  Here are the Q&As (excluding spoilers).  I’ve also removed names except for mine or Frances.

the peony lantern

Q: Frances, love the cover for The Peony Lantern! Did you choose it?
A: So glad you like it! It’s all the work of the wonderful designer at HarperCollins – with some special criteria I supplied to make sure the girl was true to Kasumi in the book.

Q: The haiku are beautiful! Did you write them, Frances?
A: I did write the haiku, Tien – thank you so much for noticing them!

Q: Did you write the haiku after the book? Is there a particular reason there are haiku? Is it just to replace headings? Or just to set the atmosphere for the chapter?
A: I did write the haiku last – I liked the idea of including a form of literature unique to Japan and, as you suggest, Tien, felt they would add to the atmosphere. That marriage of simplicity and minimalism with depth makes haiku so beautiful.








Left: Setting for chapter 1 ~ the village of Tsumago
Right: The torii at the foot of the shrine

Q: Are there actually 65 steps there? Did you count or was it a local knowledge? Is that a significant number?
A: Yes, there are 65 steps (I counted) but I don’t think the number was significant. I just liked that the shrine was high above the village, in the trees, and wanted to give a sense of the climb.









Left: The Torii pass on the Nakasendo Highway (chapter 3)
Right: A summer kimono – note the cooling design

Q: Is the story about the samurai and the servant and the broken plate based on a real
folk tale?
A: The story about the samurai, the servant and the broken plate is an actual Japanese
ghost story.

Q: I was trying to look up an image of a peony lantern but all I get is the ghost story… is a peony lantern different from a normal lantern? How?
A: A peony lantern is basically a lantern with peonies painted on the rice paper. If you google images of “peony lantern” you can find illustrations of the story with the lantern pictured. (There are lots of variations.)

wpid-img-20150825-wa0003.jpgQ: Frances, how did you research flower arrangements?
A:This is how I researched flower arrangements!  I did an ikebana class in Tokyo.  SO difficult, I am not a natural!

Q: Frances, is it a low – born female thing back then? That they’re not being taught to read / write.
A: I’m afraid educating low-born girls wasn’t a priority – especially in the country areas.

Q: Do you have any pics of Edo?
A: And here’s an amazing fact: Edo is what Tokyo was called until 1868, when the shogunate ended.

Q: Frances, the beauty prints that Isamu shows to Kasumi in the book sounds interesting. Are they like posters?
A: They were a little like posters – about A4 in size.wpid-img-20150831-wa0002.jpg

Q: is there any significance to this painting other than the feeling that it triggered in Kasumi?  I thought, at first, it’s somewhat equivalent to “Playboy” or something lol Please correct me, Frances hahaha… in my defence, Isamu is a teen & a boy ;p
A: Interesting question about the beauty print! The women were fully dressed, I can assure you! I think Isamu’s interest was artistic

Q: Oh I realise they’re fully dressed but the mention of the way the line was of the neck etc… made it sound a little more risqué ;p
A: The bare nape of the neck was considered rather risqué!


Left: The inscription is the artist’s description of seeing the moon on a beautiful night in mid-autumn.
Right: A kaiawase

wpid-img-20150816-wa0001.jpgFrances Watts was born in Switzerland and grew up in Australia. She has published 20 books for children, including picture books and books for younger readers, including Goodnight Mice!, the winner of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Award for Children’s Fiction, and 2008 Children’s Book Council of Australia award-winnerParsley Rabbit’s Book about Books. Her latest book, The Raven’s Wing, is her first novel for young adults. Frances lives in Sydney and divides her time between writing and editing.

Pictured on left: Frances on her research tour in Tokyo; in front of a temple in Ueno Park

My thanks to Frances Watts and the ladies at Read3r’Z Re-Vu

Blog Tour: The Drowning God ~a Review + Giveaway

The Drowning God

The Drowning God_1The Drowning God by James Kendley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Detective Tohru Takuda faces his own tragic past to uncover modern Japan’s darkest secret–The Drowning God.

Few villagers are happy when Takuda comes home to investigate a foiled abduction, and local police enlist powerful forces to shut him out. Takuda sacrifices his career and family honor to solve the string of disappearances in the dark and backward valley of his youth, but more than a job is at stake. Behind the conspiracy lurks the Kappa, a monstrous living relic of Japan’s pagan prehistory. Protected long ago by a horrible pact with local farmers and now by coldly calculated corporate interests, the Kappa drains the valley’s lifeblood, one villager at a time.

Takuda and his wife, Yumi, are among the few who have escaped the valley, but no one gets away unscarred. When Takuda digs into the valley’s mysteries, Yumi’s heart breaks all over again. She wants justice for her murdered son, but she needs an end to grief. Even if Takuda survives the Kappa, the ordeal may end his marriage.

With Yumi’s tortured blessing, Takuda dedicates his life to ending the Drowning God’s centuries-long reign of terror. He can’t do it alone. A laconic junior officer and a disarmingly cheerful Buddhist priest convince Takuda to let them join in the final battle, where failure means death–or worse. The journey of these three unlikely warriors from uneasy alliance to efficient team turns THE DROWNING GOD’s mystery into an adventure in friendship, sacrifice and courage.

Review (3 stars)

I am always drawn to Japan.  It started with reading mangas in my teens though these days, I’d prefer Japanese literature (translated into English) and whatever other fiction set in Japan.  As I’ve mentioned to a friend, I’ve just finished Colourless Tsukuri Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami before reading The Drowning God and will be picking up The Peony Lantern by Frances Watts for a read along next week.  It is the Japanese culture that I am fascinated with and I can’t get enough.

The Drowning God is a mystery/horror novel in contemporary setting though with a flavour of the supernatural.  Detective Tohru Takuda is no longer young and with his scars (both physical & emotional) he is just about ready to blow this case apart, even if it blew him apart too.   Supported by his protégé, Officer Mori, and an old acquaintance, the monk Suzuki, Tohru forged ahead in vengeance as well as saving his home village.

The story is told from the perspective of Takuda and while, I quite like him, I’m really curious about Mori.  I wished the POVs were alternated between the three protagonists as I think it will boost the dimension of the narrative.  On the other hand, the local superstition / religion ensconced in some sort of conspiracy was quite brilliant.

It is a fairly easygoing read with some sword-swinging actions.  Unfortunately, I didn’t quite find any surprising twists in the story but it seems to be (from the ending) that this book is the first instalment of a series so it could be a huge set up and I’ll be interested in the next book.

Thanks to Harper Voyager Impulse for copy of ebook in exchange of honest review

About Author

James Fendley

James Kendley has written and edited professionally for more than 30 years, first as a newspaper reporter and editor, then as a copy editor and translator in Japan (where he taught for eight years at private colleges and universities), and currently as an educational publishing content wrangler living in northern Virginia. He has a taste for the macabre, and he hopes you do, too!

Connect with James: website  |  facebook  |twitter


The publisher is kindly giving away One ebook per tour host so make sure you visit all the stops below.  For your entry on this blog, please comment below: which countries have you visited, vicariously, in your reading this month.

Winner to be drawn on Sat, 22 Aug 2015.

Tour Schedule

August 3 –3 Partners in Shopping

August 4 –Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

August 5 –Review From Here

August 6 –Bent Over Bookwords

August 7 –C.A. Milson

August 10 –Around the World in Books

August 11 –Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

August 12 –Voodoo Princess

August 13 –Undercover Book Reviews

August 14 –I’m Shelf-ish

August 17 –Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions

August 18 –Words I Write Crazy & The Dark Phantom

August 19 –Tien’s Blurb & The Literary Nook

August 20 –Chosen By You Book Club

August 21 –Queen of All She Reads