#BookReview The Last Children of Tokyo by Yoko Tawada

about the book

The Emissary – American Title

Yoshiro thinks he might never die. A hundred years old and counting, he is one of Japan’s many ‘old-elderly’; men and women who remember a time before the air and the sea were poisoned, before terrible catastrophe promted Japan to shut itself off from the rest of the world. He may live for decades yet, but he knows his beloved great-grandson – born frail and prone to sickness – might not survive to adulthood. Day after day, it takes all of Yoshiro’s sagacity to keep Mumei alive.

As hopes for Japan’s youngest generation fade, a secretive organisation embarks on an audacious plan to find a cure – might Yoshiro’s great-grandson be the key to saving the last children of Tokyo?

Published by  Portobello Books

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk  £7.75

waterstones  £9.99


A quirky and fascinating little book! It’s beautifully written, a little confusing at times and a little scary too as it takes a look at life in a dystopian Japan, where the elderly are the carers for a generation of youngsters who are prone to illness, disease and no understanding of life ‘before’ the isolation policy was brought in around the world.

The scenario of a time where countries have such serious problems that they are all shut off to one another so they can solve their own issues, is something so alien to us but many in this Japan have grown up knowing no other way. They don’t know foreign languages, no idea what telephones are, no transport, less food – it’s all the norm for them. But the old-elderly do remember and they are the strongest and fittest in society. 

The devotion shown by Yoshiri to his great grandson Mumei is touching and endearing. Knowing that certain foods are just too tough or bad for his great grandson has him going to extreme measures to find the right balance for him. 

The way Yoshiri looks back at the old times is quite poignant especially knowing that it means so little to those younger than him, and when we get to hear the perspective of Mumei you are just struck by how innocent he is, but appreciative of all that his great grandfather does for him.

Packs a lot in for such a short novella – 138 pages – and gives you as a reader plenty to think about and worry about for the future we may all face!



2019 Reading Challenge – The Award Winner Challenge

It’s that time of year again! The reading challenges are being set for the year ahead, and one of my favourites to join in with is run by the lovely Paul over at The Book Vipers over at GoodReads, who always sets amazing challenges to get you reading a wide variety of books over the next 12 months.

And 2019 is a corker!  The challenge this year is to read books that have won the  book prizes and made the short and longlists over the years.  You can choose to read from 1 to 21 of the categories below – it’s up to you!!

So my head is already hurting trying to work out which books to pick for each topic.  I’ve made a preliminary list of books I already have that will fit with topics, alongside ones I plan to get from the library, although I am sure my list may change over the year! And I’m still struggling for a few topics so if you have any recommendations that you think I need to read then please let me know as I’d love to hear them!!  I need help!!!!

Fiction Prize Winner – Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor
Non-Fiction Winner – H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
Poetry Prize Winner – Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore
Crime (fiction or non fiction winner) – 
History (fiction or non fiction winner) –
Debut Prize Winner – The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
Female Prize Winner – The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
Any Shortlisted Book – The Clocks in this House by Xan Brooks
Any Shortlisted Book – Sing, Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Natural History Prize Winner – The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Stephen Brusatte
Children’s/YA Winner – The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Conaghan
Any Shortlisted Book – Elmet by Fiona Mozley
Any BAME Longlist Book – The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Any Shortlisted Book – The Lighthouse by Alison Moore
Memoir/Autobio Winner – 
Translated Fiction/Non Fiction Winner –
Any Longlisted Book -Science Fiction or Non winnerA Nobel Prize Winners Book – Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Any Longlisted Book -Travel Fiction or non Prize Winner – 

Should make for some interesting reading ahead!!

#ReadingChallenges 2018 – The Magic Square – completed!

As a member of The Book Vipers over at GoodReads, the fabulous Paul always sets a wonderful reading challenge at the start of the year! So I like to jump in both feet first, and planned to read a book that corresponded with all the squares – you can choose to do the smaller squares! – and I’ve happily found out today that all squares have been ticked off! Yay!!!  I always enjoy these kind of challenges as they often push me in the direction of books I’d never normally pick up!

Here’s a look at the books that I chose to help me complete the challenge!


A Classic – War of the Worlds by H.G.Wells 

A Book About Money – The Million Dollar Duchesses by Julie Ferry 

A Book Under 100 Pages – The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

A Book Of Poems – Helium by Rudy Francisco 

Free Choice – The Lido by Libby Page 

A Book Set In Another Country – The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-Yi 

A Translated Book – We Were the Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard 

True Or Fictional Crime – Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins 

A Book With An Animal In The Title – The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Book Vipers Monthly Read – Eleanor Oliphant 

Non Fiction Book – The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young 

A Debut Book – The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurt 

Book From A Small Publisher – Summer at the Art Cafe by Sue McDonagh 

A Biography – Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham 

A Book You Have Borrowed – The Trees by Ali Shaw 

Free Choice – All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr 

A Banned Book – Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll READ

A Book with a Food in the Title – Sour Fruit by Eli Allison

Free Choice -The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw 

A Shortlisted Book – Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill 

A Book Over 500 Pages – The Parentations by Kate Mayfield 

An Award Winner – The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan 

Second Book In A Series – Us against You by Fredrik Backman 

A Book About Books – Bookworm by Lucy Mangan 

Science Fiction Or Fact – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 


2018 Reading Challenge #2 – Magic Square

I have decided to join in with another Reading Challenge for 2018 and this one is courtesy of the wonderful The Book Vipers – GoodReads group and looks set to test us all – mainly in searching out titles to fit all the topics! I may be requesting suggestions for some of them so get your thinking caps on please! I need help… in more ways than one!!

So the challenge is to read a book that fits the titles below! There are 3 levels that can be done – 9 squares, 16 squares or the full 25! I’m aiming for the 25 so we will see how we go!

Have already started a little looksie through my shelves to see what books I can get read that fit the topics! Here’s my initial list – with a number of gaps! – so hopefully I can complete the challenge!

A Classic  – lots of candidates on my bookshelves so will choose later!
A Book About Money – struggling with this one so any suggestions welcome!!
A Book Under 100 Pages – not found any on my shelves yet so might have to go shopping!
A Book Of Poems – very poor poetry knowledge so where should I start?!
Free Choice

A Book Set In Another Country –  The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-Yi

A Translated Book – On The Bright Side by Hendrik Groen

True Or Fictional Crime – 

A Book With An Animal In The Title – THE CROW ROAD by IAIN BANKS

Book Vipers Monthly Read  


Book From A Small Publisher  –  HOLLOW SHORES by GARY BUDDEN


A Book You Have Borrowed   – will raid the library!
Free Choice

A Banned Book – tempted to go Harry Potter or Alice in Wonderland or would you recommend something else?!
A Book with a Food in the Title  –  BITTER FRUITS by ALICE CLARK-PLATTS

Free Choice


A Book Over 500 Pages  – THE CROW GIRL by ERIK AXL SUND – 750 pages!!
An Award Winner – 


Science Fiction Or Fact  – READY PLAYER ONE by ERNEST CLINE
So any suggestions or help you have for me would be most welcome! Free choices will probably be from my NetGalley shelves – I WILL get that under control in 2018!!  I will carry on my search and may even end up changing some of my initial choices – that’s what normally happens! – but i’m looking forward to this challenge and trying a few different kinds of books!!

A-Z BookBuster Challenge 2017 – completed!

I have embraced the world of reading challenges over the past couple of years as I find it challenges and pushes me to read books from outside my comfort zone and makes reading a little more fun!  So I was intrigued by the BookBuster Challenge set by the GoodReads group The Book Vipers which was to read books whose authors names go from A-Z!! 

So I had lots of fun putting  a list together of books I already had on my shelves along with others I found along the way to fit in and happy to say that this week I have completed the challenge!!  Some of the titles I set out to read at the start of the year didn’t make it to my final cut but it was fun to find out different options and it has helped me reach a really good variety of books!  So here’s a look at the list of my completed reads!

Lyrebird – Cecilia Ahern           2a.m at the cat’s pyjamas – Marie-Helene BERTINO   


Call of the Undertow – Linda CRACKNELL          Wildwood;  – Roger DEAKIN  



The Fourteenth Letter – Claire EVANS            The Somnabulist – Essie FOX



Little Girl Lost – Janet GOVER                  Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt HAIG



An artist of the floating world – Kazuo ISHIGURO      Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne JONES



Handcuffs, Truncheons and a Polyester Thong – Gina KIRKHAM         Arthur – Mikael LINDNORD



The Moth Snowstorm – Michael MCCARTHY     Uprooted – Naomi NOVIK



Wesley the Owl – Stacey O’BRIEN     The Breakdown – B.A. PARIS



Exercises in Style – Raymond QUENEAU        The Silk Weaver’s Wife – Debbie RIX



The Little Prince – Antoine de SAINT-EXUPERY   The Secret Library – Oliver TEARLE




The Witchfinder’s Sister – Beth Underdown         The Farm at the Edge of the World – Sarah Vaughan



Girl Reading – Katie WARD      The Good Women of China – XINRAN



  Yesterday – Felicia YAP                  The Watcher in the Shadows  – Carlos Ruiz ZAFON
yesterday                                    shadows


Reading Challenge Completed!!  Think I may need to treat myself to a book or two to celebrate!!!  Have you set yourself any challenges this year?  Hope they’ve gone well if so!! Wonder what reading challenges 2018 will have in store?!!


Shame on me!! It has been 6 months since I started this challenge via the GoodReads The Book Vipers group I belong to so having just completed another book from the list I thought it best to share my progress!  And to hopefully keep it fresh in my mind to keep on track as there are still some weighty books left to get through!

The BookBuster challenge itself is based on the fab TV gameshow BlockBusters where you answer questions based on the alphabet on a board!  For the purpose of this challenge many are using the alphabet A-Z to read a book where the author, or title if you so wish!, corresponds to that letter!

So here is another look at my list – still deciding if I might change some along the way but at the moment I’ll be sticking to this little lot…..

A – Lyrebird by Cecilia Ahern
B – 2am at the Cats Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino
C – Call of the Undertow by Linda Cracknell
D – Julius Winsome by Gerard Donovan
E – Doorways by Robert Enright
F – The Somnambulist by Essie Fox
G – Little Girl Lost by Janet Gover
H – Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
I – The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
J – 183 times a year by Eva Jordan
K – Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
L – The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
M – The Moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy
N – Uprooted by Naomi Novak
O – Wesley the remarkable owl by Stacey O’Brien
P – The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
Q – Exercises in Style by Raymond Queaneau
R – The bookshop on the corner by Rebecca Raisin
S – The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
T – The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle
U – The Witchfinders Sister by Beth Underdown
V – Sex Object by Jessica Valenti
W – Girl Reading by Katie Ward
X – The Good Women of China by Xinran
Y – A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Z – Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon 

As of today, 11th June 2017, I have now read 10 of these – doing better than I thought lol –  and discovered some amazing books along the way so am very grateful to this challenge for that at least!  Here’s a peek at what I’ve already read and if you click on the title it will take you to my GoodReads review page if you so wish to see what I thought of each book!

1. –  Lyrebird by Cecilia Ahern   – 4 stars

2. 2 A.M at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino   – 4 stars

3. Call of the Undertow by Linda Cracknell  – 4 stars

4. Little Girl Lost by Janet Gover   – 5 stars


5.  Reasons to stay alive by Matt Haig   –   4 stars

6.  The Breakdown by B.A. Paris  –  5 stars

7.  The Moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy   –  5 stars

8.  Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau   –  4 stars

9.  The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery  –  5 stars

10.  The Good Women of China by Xinran   –  5 stars

Not doing too bad am I?!  Is anyone else taking part in this challenge?! Any on my list that I shouldn’t put off reading any longer?!  Was planning on going for Girl, Reading next – one of those books I was drawn to in a bookshop based on the cover – and the blurb didn’t sound too bad either!