Category Archives: Book Reviews

A Chinese Novel “Forget You, I Cannot” by 寧靜 – 忘記你我做不到

I have picked up this book from either Hong Kong or Taiwan a long time ago. Three unrelated orphans – one boy and two girls – had been adopted by a couple in Hong Kong. Can these orphans fall in love with each other while maintaining family love at the same time? What if their adopted parents understood and supported such a notion? Would their love ultimately destroy the very family that brought them together?

A Chinese novel

The story started off light as the kids grew up together. But it gets darker when the youngest sister – also the rebellious one – fell in love with her brother but her brother and her elder sister have already fallen in love with each other.

Forget You, I Cannot is a story told from the youngest sister’s perspective. This book is a page-turner. There are a good number of plot twists to keep me hooked till the end.

The story is also a tragedy, which is hinted at through the preface. For those who do not read Chinese, here is my attempt to translate the preface for you.

This is my confession.

In my moment when life and death coexist, I write this so that I can see clearly the things that I have done are so stupid and ignorant.

In my memory, he is small as dust. So small that can be stuck in every corner, living in every space.

Because of loving him, I keep on doing my best, but also keep on doing the wrong things. In the end, he is far away from me; he hates me so much.

Therefore, I always think that the most pathetic person in this world is me. In fact, the one who has shaped my current self is no one but me.

My youth can no longer reach the time when it should have blossomed, now withered and destroyed.

Too bad, we can only live once.

I want to see him – my brother – and tell him that I am sorry. But I know an apology is just an apology. It does not wipe away my mistakes.

Darkness has come too early. The waking hours are coming too late.

There is nowhere to turn back. All I can see now is Heaven and Earth.”

Preface from the book 忘記你我做不到 written by 寧靜

The Woman Who Married a Bear by John Straley – Book #1 of Cecil Younger Investigation Set in Alaska

I don’t usually read detective or private investigation stories. My wife does. There are a couple of reasons why I picked this book up from the local library.

First, the title enticed me. Second, Alaska intrigues me (it seems so different from the rest of America). Third, I managed to borrow the entire 6-book series from the library. The downside is that I have to finish reading them within six weeks!

The Woman Who Married a Bear started with the main character Cecil Younger taken up a private investigation job on a closed murder case. While investigating this bizarre murder case, someone was trying to kill him.

Cecil is not a successful PI. He has a weakness of getting drunk most of the time. But he has a good network for information. He is fearless and would do all that he can to get to the truth.

The story is loosely based on one of the Tlingit myths. It goes much deeper than that. I had fun reading it and am looking forward to book #2!

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott – An Irish Catholic Story in the Early 20th Century America

The Ninth Hour tells the story of a man who committed suicide leaving behind his wife and his unborn daughter. The Catholic nuns took in the widow and her daughter was raised by the Catholic clan. The story is narrated by the children of the daughter.

What I really like about this book is the amount of detail that goes into the day-to-day work of a nun and the life of the main characters. It is so vivid as though I was living through the early 20th century of America. As a Catholic, I can immediately grasp the concept of sin and penance amongst other topics such as the political dynamic between priests, nuns, and the Church.

I found this book very enjoyable to read.

Severance by Ling Ma – One of the Best I have Read Of Late

I have picked up Severance randomly from a local library. Initially attracted to the concept of a story of an apocalypse at the backdrop of office life, the millennials, modern society, and Chinese immigrants, this book turns out to be something special. Something I really enjoy reading. I took my time and had to read the ending twice as I was not entirely sure if it is what it is.

Time does not flow linearly in this story. There are lots of flashbacks and side stories. Effortlessly though, the narration is smooth without causing any confusion. That is just art. One of the central themes is routine. How we day in and day out going through our routines in the office and at home (similar to the zombies or the “fevered” in the apocalypse world). Another theme is nostalgia and the Internet is a giant collection of our past (and how much time we spent with it).

That ending though still haunts me. It is so open-ended. The readers are the ones who are going to complete the journey. I won’t be surprised if we have different interpretations.

The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

Amy Harmon is becoming one of my favorite authors in recent times. The First Girl is a story loosely based on Norse mythology. In the fictional kingdom called Saylok spins a story of salvation and love. It is a fresh take on a completely unique legend whereby the clans are the descendants of eagle, bear, wolf, horse, boar, and lion. Each clan takes turn to be the next King of Saylok. A curse has fallen onto the people of Saylok. No girl child shall be born. Yet one girl is born. Will she become the salvation of Saylok? Will Saylok survive the conflict within and beyond?

I would strongly recommend The First Girl Child. It is a magical journey, an easy read, and a page-turner.