arkadi cloud

tech, teaching, and books

Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman

I don't read comic books anymore (not since I was a teenager) but I do like Neil Gaiman and history so this graphic novel was a good fit for me. The story was interesting. I could see at points where Gaiman was trying to tie things into the Marvel universe. I recognized most characters but will admit that I didn't recognize them all. I read many reviews of this graphic novel, and I have the same gripe as most others do – where the heck is Wolverine? He could've been the perfect character to replace Rojhaz with. Oh well, it was still a fun ride. I will look up the characters I didn't know and re-read again some day. A solid graphic novel, especially for fans of Gaiman and history.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #98 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #GraphicNovel #BookReview #HistoricalFiction #NeilGaiman #Marvel #superheroes

As Long as There is Resistance, There is Hope by Kong Tsung-gan

Essays on the Hong Kong freedom struggle in the post-Umbrella Movement era, 2014-2018

I got this as a 'gift' for donating to the Hong Kong Free Press which is an not-for-profit English-language newspaper. I was already a fan of this author after reading his book, Umbrella: A Political Tale from Hong Kong, and wanted to read his latest essays. The author is a passionate supporter of HK and is an active participant in the demonstrations, and marches he writes about. His essays at times repeat certain events and positions of his because these essays were all previously published elsewhere.


Supernova Era by Cixin Liu

”...children had no opportunity to take part as a collective in the cruel struggle for survival, so of course their true nature wouldn't be exposed. Oh, for the past couple of days I've been reading the copy of Lord of the Flies you gave me” “It's a good book. Golding was one of the few adults who really got children.”

My opinion swung back and forth while reading this book. Some will say it is just a rehash of Lord of the Flies, which on the surface is a fair assessment, but that fails to take in the massive scope of this short novel. This novel talks about all the children of the world, although focus is placed on the Chinese children and the American children.


This is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone

The strangest and most refreshing sci-fi thing I've read this year. Who knew that time traveling agents could weave such a poetic love story as the word burns, and gets built up around them. This book is short enough and beautiful enough that I think I could stand to re-read it.

I love the poetry of time travel with the imagery of time as a thread and the agents, Red & Blue, going upthread, or downthread, snipping different stands or tying them together. I love the way they skip through time through history trying to bend history to the vision of their warring factions. This book is just beautiful.

It's not at all what I expected and that's a good thing.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #95 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #SciFi #AmalElMohtar #MaxGladstone #novella

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

This was a very long book. The book perplexed me. I liked the chapters about whaling and Sperm whales but disliked the 'main' narrative about Captain Ahab pursuing the whale, Moby-Dick. Now this book isn't as over hyped as Don Quixote (or as boring!) but it is very strange. 80% of the book is about whaling, and a very minuscule amount is about catching the whale. Actually the whole episode with the whale in the last few chapters is over rather quickly and is quite unsatisfying.

This is a classic you can definitely skip, unless you dearly love reading about whaling. Lucky for me, I like the minutiae of that sort so I mildly enjoyed this book.

Rating: ★★★ Book #94 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #classic #HermanMelville #whales

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan

I usually read before bed, but reading this before going to sleep was a mistake. I did not sleep well. The book is about a predator, that kills random people, for no reason than pleasure. This person was pure evil. On the other hand, it was hard not to have just a little respect for his single-minded dedication to killing. The lengths he went to in preparing 'kill kits' in states all over the US, his circuitous travel routes, and his brazenness in attacking people in broad daylight.


The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)

This novel is generally regarded by most to be the first detective story and to have established many of the detective literary devices. The Wikipedia page about this book is an interesting document in of itself to find out more about the history and literary significance of this novel.


Cutting back on Social Media; My Experiment

spend your time like you spend your money

On a whim, I tried an experiment, I stopped checking my social media, Mastodon, for about 13 days. Why? The better question is why not?

So, how was it?

It was great. I already use social media far less than other people in my estimation. I don't even use an app for it, so I have zero notifications for it already.

I didn't miss it. Sometimes, I would have the itch to take a quick look and see what's happening but I didn't succumb. I changed that habit into checking some news using my RSS reader.

What did I do the past 13 days?

  • Installed Leed (RSS reader) on Yunohost; now I can keep up to date on all my HK and Taiwan news very efficiently.
  • Unfollowed all those HK/Taiwan news sources on FB so remove impetus to check that for news
  • Setup NES/SNES emulator on my media server
  • Fiddled with my FriendlyElec Nano Pi R1
  • Read a lot more
  • Blogged a lot more
  • Reflected on how much time I 'wasted' on social media
  • Was more present in my interactions with family; I never had posts I read on my mind or wondered if people had responded to me
  • Lots of other little things I can't remember...

Now I wonder, do I really even 'need' social media?

No. I'll still keep it around as a news source, but I certainly don't need it in my day-to-day life.


  • Could you go cold-turkey on social media for 10+ days?
  • How did it go?
  • What did you learn?

Follow this blog on Mastodon to comment:

Historium by Richard Wilkinson (Illustrator), Jo Nelson

(Welcome to the Museum Series)

One of the many perks of being a parent is getting to read kids books without book snobs looking down on you. Also, I buy it for them, but also can enjoy it too. So the key to buying books for your kids is to buy books you enjoy. Yes they are 'for' your kids, but why can't they be for both of you, right?

Now this is one of those 'large format' big books. It's published by the publisher BIG PICTURE PRESS. It's gorgeous. The fonts used for the titles are beautiful. The layout is great. The illustrations of museum objects are beautiful. The size is another factor – when I pick it up I feel I'm transported into the museum full of special things.


The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Despite all the hype, a very powerful story of a black boy caught up in forces outside of his control in the early 1960s. The powerful twist at the end is a pretty effective gut punch too.

I grew up in a very multicultural area in Canada so reading these stories of cities segregated for Blacks and Whites seem like science fiction to me. I still enjoy learning about this chapter of America through these stories though, as they help give me a historical context to understand a bit better the tensions that they're still having today.

If you skipped out on Whitehead's excellent “The Underground Railroad” because you've read enough about the railroad in school, try this one. It's only 224 pages long and is a very easy read. At it's heart, it's a story about two boys who are just trying to figure out how the world really works, and to find a way to survive.

PS the book cover is incredible too!

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #90 in my My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #JimCrow #racism #ColsonWhitehead #USA