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Memoirs and life stories

Here are my latest book recommendations for Northwest Asian Weekly:

Kapoho, Memoir of a Modern Pompeii
By Frances H. Kakugawa
Watermark Publishing, 2011

Frances Kakugawa was only 5 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Despite still being quite young, she quickly learned what that meant for her and her Japanese American family living in the village of Kapoho on Hawaii’s Big Island. Her family was loyal to the United States, but they still had roots in Japan and were forced to get rid of almost all evidence of these roots during World War II.

This is just one of many stories Kakugawa shares in “Kapoho.” The book is about her life growing up in a small plantation village in Hawaii. She also shares how she worked hard to speak like a “haole,” or a white person, in an effort to realize her dream of becoming a writer and poet, as well as the special relationship she shared with her mother throughout her life.

Kakugawa’s memoir is a collection of vignettes, showing readers little snapshots of her life from childhood to adulthood. She didn’t have it easy. Her family was far from wealthy, and being Japanese during the war was more than a little difficult. But despite those difficult times, Kakugawa has fond memories of befriending American soldiers, as they stood guard throughout Kapoho, and of working as a maid for a white family to pay her way through college. She does not dwell on the bad parts. Instead, she focuses on the bright spots during the dark periods, reminding readers that even in the worst of times, there will always be a reason to smile.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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Life at War — Book recommendations

Here are my latest book recommendations for Northwest Asian Weekly:

Cress
By Marissa Meyer
Feiwel and Friends, 2014

The Lunar Chronicles continue in this third installment right where the previous one ended.

New Beijing cyborg mechanic Cinder and Captain Carswell Thorne are now fugitives on the run from the law — both on Earth and on the moon. And joining the party are Scarlet, a young woman from France who recently lost her grandmother, and Wolf, a genetically mutated operative, formerly fighting for the other side.

The outlaws are working together to overthrow Lunar Queen Levana, who has her sights on conquering Earth just as she has Luna (otherwise known as the moon). Her first step in world domination is to marry Emperor Kai of the Eastern Commonwealth.

Cinder and the gang plan to stop her and their best bet lies with the book’s title character, Cress. Just like Rapunzel, the young Lunar girl has been imprisoned since she was very young, with a satellite acting as her tower and her netscreens as her only companions. Cress connects with Cinder and the others and they plan to rescue her. But things go sideways and the group is separated.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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When two worlds become one

Here are my latest book recommendations for the Northwest Asian Weekly:

The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya
By Nagaru Tanigawa
Little, Brown and Company, 2013

As in the previous book, the latest installment in the Haruhi Suzumiya series features two different versions of the same story and continues where the last one ended.

The first version begins with Kyon, Haruhi, time-traveler Mikuru Asahina, and esper-boy Itsuki Koizumi rushing off to the home of Yuki Nagato, the remaining member of the SOS Brigade (Save the World by Overloading it with Fun Haruhi Suzumiya) and their resident alien, who has been ill. The gang does what they can to try and help Yuki feel better.

For Kyon, this means meeting with a group of potentially dangerous individuals from other organizations who are watching over Sasaki, a girl he knew in middle school, suspected of having similar deity-like powers as Haruhi.

The second version follows the SOS Brigade, as they continue the recruitment process to bring new members to their illegal school club.

All the while, Kyon remains suspicious of the individuals tasked with watching over Sasaki. At the beginning of the story, the group remains in the background, but becomes more of a concern to Kyon, as he tries to figure out who they are and what their motives are.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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Family: This month’s book recommendations

Here are my latest book recommendations for Northwest Asian Weekly:

Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic
Story by Ginnie Lo, Illustrations by Beth Lo
Lee & Low Books, 2012

While growing up in a small town in Indiana, Jinyi and Pei’s family would often make the three-hour drive to visit their mother’s sister, Auntie Yang, and her family just outside Chicago.

One weekend, during a Sunday drive, the families come across a field of soybeans, a food Jinyi’s mother and Auntie Yang often ate in China. They sorely missed soybeans now that they were living in the United States.

What starts out as a special treat for dinner, eventually grows into an annual event held at a city park with about 200 Chinese people.

“Auntie Yang’s” is based on sisters Ginnie and Beth Lo’s real-life aunt of the same name and the soybean picnics she held while they were growing up. In the story, Jinyi and Pei’s mother and aunt are the only members of their family living in America, while the rest of their siblings are back in China. In addition, there are not many Chinese families in the Midwest. Because of this, the two sisters make an extra effort to visit with each other.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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Book recommendations

Here are my latest book recommendations for the Northwest Asian Weekly:

The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya
By Nagaru Tanigawa
Little, Brown and Company, 2013

In the latest installment in the Haruhi Suzumiya series, we find the SOS Brigade (Save the World By Overloading It With Fun Haruhi Suzumiya) entering a new school year.

As brigade chief Haruhi, resident alien Yuki Nagato, esper-boy Itsuki Koizumi, and “normal” member — and narrator — Kyon enter their second year of high school, and time-traveler Mikuru Asahina enters her second year, it is clear things are not going to be business-as-usual for the five friends — even with the group’s unusual membership and even more unusual, deity-like leader.

It all begins when Kyon runs into Sasaki, an old classmate from middle school. What starts as a seemingly random run-in quickly escalates into something more, as Kyon learns his old friend may actually have abilities much like those of Haruhi. This discovery leads to two versions of the same story being told. Kyon meets individuals from other organizations, who are doing things similar to his fellow brigade members — they are watching over Sasaki, just as Yuki, Itsuki, and Mikuru are doing with Haruhi.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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Young people against the world — Book Recommendations

Here are my latest book recommendations for Northwest Asian Weekly:

Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery
By M. Evelina Galang
Coffee House Press, 2013

Angel de la Luna’s life begins to fall apart the day her father disappears. As a man who drove tourists and travelers throughout Manila, it was not unusual for him to be gone a few days at a time. But he always came back — except this once.

When Angel and her family learn for sure that he has died, the young girl quickly realizes he is not the only one she may lose. Angel’s mother is overcome with so much grief she might as well be gone too. But someone has to look after Angel’s younger sister and their grandmother. The job falls upon Angel’s shoulders.

“Angel” is the story of a young girl coming of age as she learns the meaning of family, survival and sacrifice. Her tale takes her to Chicago, where she reluctantly joins her mother and new stepfather and learns to make new friends among her American classmates.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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NWAW’s October book recommendations

Here are my latest book recommendations for Northwest Asian Weekly:

Take Me Out to the Yakyu
By Aaron Meshon
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013

Although baseball may be America’s pastime, the sport’s appeal has expanded to include a global audience.

In children’s book “Take Me Out to the Yakyu,” one little boy shares with readers his love for the sport as he compares his experiences while attending a baseball game in the United States and a baseball game in Japan. The little boy chronicles every last detail of his game-going experiences, including which grandfather attends the game with him, how they get to the stadium, the various snacks and concessions and what the fans cheer and sing during the seventh-inning stretch. He also shares what happens after the games.

While the United States and Japan may be halfway around= the world from each other, “Take Me Out to the Yakyu” shows us that we may not be that different from one another. The young hero of our story eats different foods and buys different souvenirs during the two games, but in the end, we all want the same thing at a sporting event: To have fun and watch our team win.

Since it is so easy to point out what makes us different, it is also important to be able to acknowledge and then look past those differences to see how we are the same. And in learning what makes us the same, we find it easier to connect with others.

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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