What Readers Say about My Books

Some of the Amazing Readers

LIBERATION: Seeking the Meaning of Life is both a memoir of Japanese pilgrim Shogo Onoe (who found himself in Mexico cultivating a new life even as he sought the meaning of his old one) and a Carlos Castaneda-style spiritual journey that offers a dual inspection of personal and spiritual growth.

 From its opening lines, it’s evident that LIBERATION is a powerful story of a different ilk than the usual travelogue or autobiography: “I have been a stranger to my own country and my own country’s people since I was a child. I should confess that I hate Japan from my guts. On top of it all, I have never fitted into Japanese society and have not yet even started to function as a useful person there. To tell the truth, I have never agreed with the Japanese society system and the Japanese way of life. I always wanted to escape from Japan to see the world so that I could be free as a bird. From my childhood on, one thing was crystal clear to me as if it were God’s revelation: I definitely do not belong in Japan, and I just happened to be born in the wrong country. I am absolutely a lone wolf and constantly suffocated by loneliness, because I have no one to talk with about my true feelings and even a fraction of my feelings.”

When Shogo Onoe, a stranger in his own country, encounters the peoples and culture of Mexico, he finds the contrasts stark and also finds a new place for himself in the world.

This is where the magic of LIBERATION begins to work its spell on the reader.

 Onoe’s contrast of the emotional, cultural, and spiritual milieus of these disparate countries offers a rare glimpse into the meaning of life as perceived and cultivated under different conditions.

His encounters with others on the road to defining happiness and life’s meaning injects his journey with social, philosophical, and spiritual observations that are astutely analytical in their contrasts of personalities and perspectives.

This is a strength of the autobiographical format in general, but under Onoe’s hand, it also represents the strength of not just accepting, but searching out new possibilities and opportunities: “Sometimes we cannot explain how a certain thing occurs in our lives. Usually, it is a most crucial thing, which you have fervently craved your entire life. You cry, scream, gibber, pray, and curse, but it never budges. Out of desperation, you swear that you will abandon your faith in Almighty God and will forever turn your back on Him while making the silliest defiant expression on your face. But it is not enough. In order to show your everlasting agony and disappointment with Him, you start pulling your hair out hysterically, dance sacrilegiously, and spit up to the heavens insolently, but it still does not budge a wee bit. It has become beyond your comprehension; you become dispirited to the point of giving it up – that moment, the thing somehow befalls upon you out of the blue.”

Underlying these experiences is a consideration of the nature of individualism and exploration that encourages readers to think about their own paths of discovery and alienation in life.

The result is a highly recommended survey that blends literature, biography, and social and spiritual contrasts and reflections. These facets are topped with a dose of philosophical and psychological insight that offer much food for thought for thinkers and book clubs that look for seasoned insights spiced with the experience of a pilgrim actively seeking the meaning of life.

– D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Mexican Rhapsody: Having a Second Chance is at once a travelogue and a biography, and deserves a place on either shelf as it follows Shogo Onoe’s move from native Japan to Mexico.

Faith, growth, and spiritual revelations flow in this story as Onoe reveals what he loves about Mexico, what he hates about his country of origin, and the revelations that marked his journey between them.

Its autobiographical novel approach injects drama into the adventure, which incorporates cross-cultural observations in a manner few travelogues, memoirs, or novels can match: “You know, we’re very open. We don’t care where you hail from, for we know in our hearts that we’re all brothers. We welcome everyone who wants to enjoy what our fatherland can offer. But alas, goddamn Japanese have discriminated against us in the right our faces. I still don’t fathom and will never be okay with such a godawful assailment!”

From the evolving realization that Onoe has always loved writing, feeling that it is his passion, to his foray into being a prankster, his obsession with self-improvement, and his ribald enjoyment of life, Mexican Rhapsody‘s adventures translate to a thirst for not just the written world, but new experiences and growth.

This, in turn, provides readers with a hearty blend of entertainment and revelation as philosophy, adventure, travel, cross-cultural experiences, and religious beliefs dovetail and evolve into the odyssey of the author’s lifetime.

Mexican Rhapsody turns the traditional travelogue on end as it incorporates all these facets into a lively survey of relationships and experiences.

While some would be surprised at its description as a ‘novel’ despite its reality-driven basis, this serves to reflect Onoe’s ability to represent the drama and changes inherent in everyday experiences and interconnected lives.

The result takes pieces of different genres to incorporate their strongest qualities into a story of discovery, change, and faith.

It’s a winning biographical novel of exploration and enlightenment that lingers in the mind long after reading, and deserves a place in libraries strong in cross-cultural and faith-based revelations alike.

D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Few Japanese travelers would dream of embarking on a journey to an English-speaking country such as Canada without being able to at least converse in the language, but Shogo Onoe’s memoir Dance to Dreams: Making the Right Choice chronicles Onoe’s choice to begin a new life in Vancouver sans the benefits of fluency. Moreover, his passion for the written word led to his aspiration to become a writer. Despite numerous rejections, he pursued his dream of achieving publication, and Dance to Dreams is just one result from a pen that has experienced many forms of rejection, acceptance, and challenge.

 The first thing to note about this story is its passion. Readers might not expect the depths of the candid, passionate tone to ripple through a Japanese writer’s memoir. Onoe cultivates excitement, translates that energy to the written word, and brings readers along on a rollicking ride of discovery that translates to readers through dialogues with all manner of people that he encounters along the way:

“What the hell are you talking about, Seiichi? You were forever reproaching me that I don’t respect the Japanese culture and outrageously insulted me that I’ve become a total stranger to my own country before going to Mexico, remember? And on top of it all, you heatedly rejected Canadian and Mexican cultures, notwithstanding you had never gone to either country. And now, you’re somehow praising Mexican culture to the heaven? Are you shitting me, Seiichi? What’s going on here?”

Onoe navigates these strange worlds and their inhabitants with an astute eye to examining the kinds of realities that Japanese natives and those supportive of the culture may find uncomfortably enlightening:

“I think Japanese people are the meanest bastards walking on two legs under the sun, you know… they always make fake smiles and use polite language to strangers. At first, they seem to be very kind people, but this is just a sheer illusion that they make. Oh no, they’re just wearing social masks and pretending to be nice to everyone all the goddamn time. Once they’re alone with their friends, they’ll start showing their true colors unrestrictedly, gossiping about their colleagues, even their friends, and saying bad things behind their backs as if they are talking about the weather.

They never say what they mean directly; they always say it behind people’s backs. Unfortunately, this is a Japanese pandemic. I have never seen such sick people except in Japan.”

These confessions could prove painful to some, but can serve as intriguing discussion points in book clubs choosing this memoir for not just its cross-cultural encounters and journey, but for its succinct, hard-hitting points about how the Japanese interact and intersect with other cultures.

Ex-pat Onoe creates a dialogue of examination that forces readers to probe the undercurrents of the Japanese psyche and its underpinnings. Perhaps he is in a relatively unique position to do so, given his independent journeys through other cultures which lead to new insights and critiques of disparate facets of a Japanese culture that tends to pigeonhole and dehumanize those outside Japan.

The story of one who spent only four days in Mexico before deciding to move from Japan to Guatemala creates a powerful inspection especially highly recommended for book clubs interested in Japanese cultural explorations that pull no punches in critiquing psyches, powers, and prejudices.

Libraries will find Dance to Dreams a unique blend of memoir and cross-cultural encounters that challenges belief systems and assumptions alike.

– D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

As I immersed myself in Shogo Onoe’s captivating story, I felt an instant connection to his courageous pursuit of his dreams and his escape from the confines of Japanese culture. The book is filled with vivid anecdotes, personal reflections, and eye-opening critiques that challenged me to rethink my own beliefs and take bold steps towards my aspirations. The intertwining of his friend’s brave journey to Guatemala after just four days in Mexico added a refreshing perspective on embracing new possibilities beyond the ordinary. This is a deeply inspiring and empowering read that reminds us all to stop saying no to a better life and embrace the courage to follow our dreams fearless.

– Sue E, NetGalley Reviewer

If we stop being who we truly are and doing what we love the most for living, we’ll be unimaginably unhappy. So, if you’re not happy, what’s the point of going on living? We must do what makes us happy every single day, for life is only a one-time journey, amigo!

I think “Dance to Dreams” it’s a book with a lot of power, it’s a story of self-discovery, which emphasizes the importance of making decisions and the impact they have on our lives. Shogo’s journey continues in this new installment, and we’ll accompany him throughout these new experiences and life lessons.

The chapters feels written with the soul, we’ll get know Shogo better, this time he tells us about the frustration of an author in the publishing industry, about the challenges that exist and the rejections towards those who are just starting, he transmits his determination and resistance, because we know that sometimes it’s not an easy path, and new obstacles appear but you have to fight for it, have faith and hope in your own talent

One thing I like about this author’s books is how he always manages to emphasize the importance of experiencing different cultures and perspectives to broaden one’s horizons. It truly inspires the reader to discover new places and self-grow.

Friendship also takes on a lot of value in this narrative, I love the support and loyalty that exists between Shogo and his friends, despite the distance and cultural differences, they have a bond that is difficult to break, I admire that a lot, and I like how they encourage each other to fight for their passions and celebrate each other’s successes.

A heartfelt, moving, realistic, and thoughtful book of one person’s journey to find their place in the world and pursue their dreams It’s an emotional rollercoaster that creates a relatable experience for readers who want to pursue their dreams.

Izzy Vega, Reviewer

A thought-provoking and deeply moving autobiographical novel that follows author Shogo Onoe’s journey of courageously pursuing his dreams beyond the suffocating grip of Japanese culture. Through colorful anecdotes and poignant reflections, Onoe shares his experiences and encounters with amazing people outside his native homeland. The book offers scathing critiques of what he perceives as a dehumanizing and controlling Japanese culture, encouraging readers to break free from self-limiting beliefs and stop sacrificing their happiness. Interspersed with the story of his Japanese friend’s bold move to Guatemala after just four days in Mexico, Dance to Dreams challenges us to see the countless possibilities that lie beyond our ordinary confines. A beautifully written read, this novel is a soul-stirring reminder for anyone striving to chase a dream or daring to live fearlessly, presenting life-changing possibilities within reach.

Abigail L, Librarian

This was a really raw, bold, and honest book! The author writes about his life in Mexico with his friends. The conversations between the author – Shogo and his friends: Gerardo, Jorgito are really entertaining and give an honest insight into the author’s experiences. This book is a unique blend of memoir, travelogue and autobiography just like the author’s previous work ‘Liberation’ which I have also had the pleasure of reading. The author’s writing style is really unique, beautiful and it will leave you craving for more! It is true that when you find a good book, you never want it to end, because that is exactly how I felt about this book. This book made me realize that people have struggles that I don’t even know about, such as, for example, in the starting of the book (chapter 1), there were conversations between Shogo and his friends which indicated that they all experienced UC attacks which rendered them unable to control their own bowel movements and they shitted themselves in awkward places like the bed, car, etc. The author’s descriptions about his life, his friends lives, etc were really interesting to read. This book is officially one of my most favorite books that I have read this year so far. I would highly recommend this book to people who like biographies, autobiographies, non-fiction, travel books and memoirs.

– Nandini, Reviewer

“You’ll be recognized as one of the great artists in our contemporary time someday.”

It’s the second time that I have the opportunity to read a work by Shogo Onoe, with Mexican Rhapsody I’ve been able to learn more about Shogo’s life, understand him and empathize more with him, the love with which he wrote this book is noticeable, the descriptions and the way he shows the affection that he has towards Mexico and towards his friends.

It also shows us the other side of Japanese society, which not many talks about, which is not like in the movies, having a happy and quiet life isn’t easy, you can find people who make your life impossible, overwork, monotony, and the way all that can affect both body and soul. Trying to escape from that society and it is very understandable, as well as wanting to grow as a person, self-discover and follow your heart.

There is a conversation in chapter 6 between Gerardo and Shogo, and the truth is that those words totally reached my heart, the friendship that exists between them is very special, and the way in which they support and are sincere with each other, it’s something very nice to read.

I think it’s one of those reads that is totally worth giving it a try. It’s truly inspiring.

“Perhaps you don’t know, Shogo, I always believe in you”

– Daniela Vega, Reviewer

If you’re looking for an inspiring read with a message of hope, look no further than Mexican Rhapsody: Having a Second Chance. This beautifully written and profoundly personal novel follows author Shogo Onoe as he leaves his old life in Japan for the vibrant cities and landscapes of Mexico. Blending thoughtful philosophical and spiritual wisdom with an undying message of living your life to the fullest – no matter what other people might think – this book paints a vivid picture of one man’s exodus in search of a better life.

Mexican Rhapsody is a must-read for dreamers, soul-searchers, and creative spirits, and will touch your heart encouraging you to refuse to be inauthentic and stay true to what you really feel. If you’re looking for an inspiring read that will change your life, look no further.

– Sue E, Reviewer

Highly recommend this one! This was my first book to read by this author but definitely won’t be my last. The characters will stay with you long after you finish the book and you will find yourself wishing the story would never end.

– Summer H, Educator

This book was phenomenal. I would highly recommend this book to people who like non-fiction, travel books, memoirs, biographies, or autobiographies. In this book, the author’s quest for the meaning of life is described. The journey that the author takes is a spiritual and philosophical one. The book clearly shows you the distinctions between the Japanese way of life and the Mexican culture. The starting part of the book where the author describes about how he felt like a stranger in his own motherland was very relatable; I feel like many of us feel this way even if we don’t particularly care to admit it. The book described about how the author felt like people of his own country did not understand him, made fun of him and how when he finally left Japan, he was accepted by people from other cultures and how he was able to make real friends only after he left Japan. This book made me realize that just because some people might not fit in a particular place or country, doesn’t mean they wont fit in anywhere; a little bit of soul searching can go a long way. The book will surely encourage many people to be themselves, accept themselves and not change themselves for society’s sake; this book will make people realize that they should embrace their quirks and that being unique is a boon.

– Nandini, Reviewer

“Life is fun to live, and God always works for us in mysterious ways.”

As the years go by, life becomes more complex, and sometimes we end up losing ourselves, or feel that we don’t fit in. We leave our happiness in the background and for some reason we cannot do 100% what we would like.

This book narrates the personal experiences of Shogo who will leave everything behind and will give a new direction to his life.

I found it very interesting and reflective, throughout the book I was finding advice to appreciate and see life in a new way. It opened my mind, it filled me with hope, desire and the need to search and discover my life mission, to fulfill my dreams. To follow the signs that God sends you, and know that there are second chances. It’s a light and worthwhile read. Full of treasures.

A very important topic that this book handle is friendship, and how friends become an essential part of your life and on some occasions they can be the one that saves you when you feel lost.

I hope that if you read it, you come to have the same feeling. Highly recommended!

“Life is a full of surprises if one takes a risk to leap into unknown adventures.”

– Daniela Vega, Reviewer