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Hazardous Tales # 8-9

Lafayette! by Nathan Hale

(Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #8)

The tale of the Frenchman, Layfayette, who played a pretty big role in the US Civil War. I had listened to a podcast about the US Civil War before so I am familiar with the name Layfayette, but Hale has a great gift in being able to take a complex subject and translate it to graphic novel format. As a non-American, it was a bit hard for me to follow the exact geography of how things were jumping around from battle-to-battle. The story was interesting, but it is hard to keep a story like this super interesting because it mostly follows Layfayette jumping from battle to battle, trying to get into battles, and also lobbying the French to send more ships.


Divorce by Kim Soom

(Yeoyu – new voices Korea #4) Translator: Emily Yae Won

A poet is caught in her divorce and the story of 3 generations of her family, and their divorces are told in flashbacks. Korean women have a tough life in the extremely patriarchal society. This book does a good job of easing the reader into a difficult topic, gender roles/dynamics in Korea, and laying bare the emotions the woman has to go through in a familiar struggle we have in every society, divorce.

I liked the way the story was a story within a story told through the flashbacks. The book opens with the main character sitting in the waiting room to get a divorce. She observes the other couples in the waiting room, and notices how they get called, and how they jump up or shuffle to the window, or even have arguments. She reflects on her own life and how it go to the point of divorce in her own relationship.

This one was a stronger book in my opinion compared to Milena, Milena, Ecstatic. In this book I cared for the main character and felt the heartache she had to go through. The story moved along smoothly even when it jumped between different storylines.

I am reading these chap books slowly, and savouring them. I really enjoy taking them to a coffee shop and enjoying a whole book along with a coffee. They are the perfect length to read in a single sitting. I am saving them for my personal coffee shop time.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #19 in my #ReadingChallenge2021 #BookReview #Fiction #Yeoyu #StrangersPress #KimSoom #KoreanLit #TranslatedFiction #divorce #family

History Of Crete by Theocharēs Eustratiou Detorakēs

I really, really wanted to like this book but it is dry, filled with spelling mistakes, and very focused on the Greek Orthodox history of Crete. That's not to say this book isn't valuable, because it is. This is the first book I've stumbled upon that is a history of Crete from ancient times up to the end of World War 2, but it was still a disappointment to me.


Eumeswil by Ernst Jünger

I'm not sure what to say about this. This is nominally about a 'utopian state' that is ruled by a military dictator. It really is a treatise on life, and part of it feels like a memoir of the author.

Anyone who writes history would like to preserve the names and their meanings, indeed rediscover the names of cities and nations that are long forgotten. It is like placing flowers on a grave: Ye dead and also ye nameless – princes and warriors, slaves and evildoers, saints and whores, do not be mournful: ye are remembered lovingly.

Some parts of the book were great. It's a slog to get through, but only because it is so dense, and full of references to classical literature.


Milena, Milena, Ecstatic by Bae Suah

(Yeoyu – new voices Korea #6)

This book is part of a set from Strangers Press. I like their mission.

STRANGERS PRESS is focused on publishing literary translations and international writing in innovative or creative ways. We’re particularly interested in the idea of translation as a form of cultural exchange – that cultures might learn things about each other, in multiple ways, through the process – and seek to publish in a way that celebrates or foregrounds that, in collaboration with the British Centre for Literary Translation, University of East Anglia, and The National Centre for Writing. We take our name from The Strangers of the 16th century: a group of economic migrants from the Spanish Netherlands invited to help boost the nation's textile industry. Our logo references a Flemish gable – in connection with their legacy – and suggests transition from one state to another.

As I'm a sucker for translated fiction, and these sets have awesome book covers – I was sold! The sets aren't cheap, ($35 EUR) but are very cool. Each book is only 30-40 pages long, so these are easy to get through in one sitting.

This book Milena, Milena, Ecstatic is from the Yeoyu – New Voices from Korea set.


Tokyo Ueno Station by Miri Yū

I love translated fiction. I especially read a lot of Asian translated fiction. Every country certainly has its own style. This Japanese story is an odd mix of ghost memoir, and history of an MRT station. Lots of Japanese fiction I seem to read has its own slow cadence, meandering plot and a fascination with death.


The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea by Bandi

This is an incredible work that was written from someone still living inside of North Korea. There are seven stories in this book, and they are all strong. They capture the insanity of living inside the kingdom of North Korea ruled by the hereditary dynasty.

You really are getting two books in one here: one is the story of how this manuscript was written, and smuggled out of North Korea, and the actual 'fictional' (probably closer to non-fiction than we can imagine) stories.


Privacy is Power: Reclaiming Democracy in the Digital Age by Carissa Véliz

They are watching us. They know I'm writing these words. They know you are reading them. Governments and hundreds of corporations are spying on you and me, and everyone we know. Every minute of every day. They track and record all they can: our location, our communications, our internet searches, our biometric information, our social relations, our purchases, and much more. They want to know who w are, what we think, where we hurt.

This is the privacy manifesto I've been waiting for. This is the book that you can get our mom and dad to read, and they will understand why privacy is important. I want to buy copies of this book for everyone in my family. I want to send this book to members of parliament, and prime ministers around the world.


Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky

Don't be put off by the strange title. This is a wonderful sci-fi story that explores the question: what if we had proof that we weren't alone in the universe?

Humans are visited by aliens in this book, but they never meet us. They leave behind debris, and 'garbage'. The area they visit becomes a radioactive wasteland with dangerous phenomena in there that can kill you. The area is closed off and called the Zone. Scientists try to study artifacts they find in the zone, while 'stalkers' sneak in and steal them to sell.

The main character in this book is about one prolific stalker. His story is told in pieces, and at different points in his life. His most incredible adventure though comes at the end of his career when we goes after a mythical Zone artifact.

This story is mostly about greed I'd say. Sadly, I think this is exact what would happen in aliens visited us. It wouldn't unite us, or push us to a higher plane – we'd go on killing each other, and trying to make money.

Rating: ★★★★★

Book #11 in my #ReadingChallenge2021 #BookReview #ArkadyStrugatsky #BorisStrugatsky #SciFi #greed

Planet of Exile by Ursula K. Le Guin

(Hainish Cycle #2)

After finishing Hainish Cycle #1, Rocannon's World, I decided to keep on going and read #2. In this one, we find some advanced people who have been stranded on another world inhabited by two other less technologically advanced people's. This should sound familiar to those that read Rocannon's World.

I found this book more exciting and engaging than Rocannon's World. The relationships between the characters were more believable, and the whole situation had more tension. A brief summary of the plot: the exiles are in their city close to another tribe of people. These two cities are threatened by a 'barbarian' type of people coming south to attack them. The long winter is also approaching.

Le Guin sure likes having people exiled far away from home. Many of her books deal with an advanced civilization on a world with less advanced peoples.

I enjoyed the little romance between people, and how that affected the politics of the 'war' approaching. The ending was appropriately left a bit open-ended, but you can feel where things are headed.

As far as the Hainish Cycle is concerned, this book has revived my interest in continuing to read through this series. Another positive for the series is that the books are all relatively short. I don't know about you, but these days I find it difficult to concentrate on long books.

Rating: ★★★★

Book #9 in my #ReadingChallenge2021 #BookReview #UrsulaKLeGuin #HainishCycle #aliens #war #winter