I was so incredibly excited when I heard that the other books in the Before the Coffee Gets Cold series by Toshikazu Kawaguchi were going to be translated into English! I adored the first book and it was my absolute favourite read of 2019, I even thought about it replacing The Gift as my favourite book! That’s how much I loved it! So of course when NetGalley had the arc available I requested it and was lucky enough to get it!
Translated by Geoffrey Trousselot, Tales from the Café continues to follow the staff from Café Funiculi Funicula, some familiar faces, and some new to us. Yet again this book tells the tale of individuals who need to face their past in order to move on with their future, and leaves the reader, or at least me, asking what I would change if I could travel back in time.
This is quite a short book, so it’s hard to say much about it when trying to avoid spoilers, but yet again this book just filled my soul. I adored the atmosphere Kawaguchi created around the café, how he expanded on the lore of the café itself, as well as on the history of those who work there. On top of this beautiful exploration we are also introduced to new people and are absorbed into new tales. Throughout this book, whilst I was reading it I really felt a sense of peace, of beauty. I cried, as with the first one, when I finished reading it. It’s such a touching and well written plot. And I love the path that Kawaguchi went down for this book.
I’ve already bought myself a physical copy of this book (and it’s signed!) and I’m also already excited for the 3rd and final book to be published in English! I wish that this was a longer series, but if I can’t have that then fingers crossed more of Kawaguchi’s works will be translated into English. If not then you might find me learning Japanese!
This one is a classic, and a short one at that, but I find that people (like me until recently) just don’t happen to read it unless it’s on their school curriculum. We follow farm animals who decide to rebel against their cruel masters and run their own lives. It starts out so well, but slowly descends into communism and we watch the animals be manipulated and deceived.
I have now read both Animal Farm and 1984, George Orwell’s two most well known and talked about books. I have given them both the same rating of 4 stars, although I did enjoy them both neither were new favourites. I find that there’s just something about his writing that doesn’t fully gel with me, which is a real pity.
I did really enjoy seeing the animals attempt to remember what had been promised before and also attempting to read so that they could see the written rules for themselves. It was sad to see them fail though, as this is obviously based off of real life and communist leaders. I believe this could be a good way to bring up the topic to younger people and I can see why this is taught in schools so frequently, but I also think that if the reader is too young they might not realise the connotations without prompting.
This is a classic, and one I believe you should read, but don’t worry if you feel like you aren’t getting all of the references. I definitely didn’t! But I got the overall vibe and that’s all that was really needed, the rest is just a bonus. So if you were thinking of going through it I recommend giving it a go! You might really enjoy it, and even if it isn’t your new favourite, it’s a quick read that’ll likely make you think.
First things first, thank you to NetGalley for providing a free eARC of this book in return for an unbiased review.
I picked this book up as the concept sounded cute and interesting, and as a Geography student, the environmental viewpoint was really inviting. Sadly, I was disappointed by this book. Although I went into this book knowing that it was intended for children aged 7-9, I still felt that it was too childish for this audience. The writing was also sub-par in quality, and I hate when this happens in children’s literature as it feels like the author believed their full efforts weren’t needed for “just” a kids book.
There were sections of this book which should have been great emotional moments, with the characters feeling confused, shocked, worried, excited or more. However, this never seemed to happen and emotions were very muted. One such example of this: ‘”Oh.” Magnus was very excited.’ … was he? Was he really? With various sectors like this, I feel like this book could have really benefited from further input from editors and the writer having more experience with writing, both in general and for children.
I feel like this book is more aimed at 4-6 year-olds, as there is almost no emotional depth and the language used (with an exception being dinosaur species) being very simple. There were plot setups for future books which older children would likely be able to spot with ease and the character of Em has what feels like no development.
Moving onto the good points of this short read. The concept of this book is actually really good! As mentioned above, I love the environmental aspect of the book which pushes the use of renewable energy and challenges the consumer-driven world we live in. The concept of the series is also really good, with multiple (seemingly parallel) universes and a well fleshed-out villain who is perfect for a kids book. There were a few really interesting scenes, one involving the Jewelled Book of the Universe and Em, and another involving a clever deception of the bad guys at the end!
I feel like this book could have been so much better and had so much potential. Possibly the book was rushed, or it was the authors first work and the editorial team didn’t analyse the writing as well as they could. The plot line is there, and with a little more development the characters are also. Fingers crossed that as this series continues on the author will develop and improve and make this an interesting kids series that I would happily recommend to my friends with children. I hope S. L. Browne manages to pull this off and end up with a really unique, fun and interesting children’s series with a brilliant environmental message behind it.