arkadi cloud

tech, teaching, and books

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar

A magical journey of one family through the turbulent times in Iran right after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. I've read lots of history, and historical fiction from Iran, and they had such a rich culture of poetry, music, and writing. It has been through a lot with outside forces coming in and imposing their will on the people.

This book was incredible but you really have to let go and let it take you. There are mermaids, ghosts, and other magical occurrences that don't 'make sense' but they actually do. This was a beautiful book about life, death, politics, and history if you have the patience for magical realism in your stories.


The CCP Virus

Right now, it's all anybody in the world is talking about. For future me, I will lay down my thoughts on this Corona virus/COVID-19/Wuhan Flu/Chinese Virus.

My personal beliefs: (1) China shoulders a large portion of this pandemic going global as they were busier 'protecting their image' than saving lives and stopping the spread of the virus. (2) This virus will be a net positive for the future of our planet. (3) Capitalism is to blame for also hampering swift virus response.


A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler

A delightful mystery where a crime writer stumbles onto the life of a devious character, Dimitrios and can't let it go. I don't often read mystery novels, but this one held my attention to the end.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #36 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #Mystery #EricAmbler

Venice: Pure City by Peter Ackroyd

An interesting, but uneven stroll through Venice's past. Interesting, but at time the author sounds like a wind bag who doesn't really know what he's talking about.


All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen

A short but humorous look at death. Is this a kids book? Not really, but it sort of looks like one. There aren't any naughty words in it, so you could plausibly share it with your child. Would I buy this? Heck no, but I did borrow this from the library.

I especially needed this cathartic joy of laughter with the Wuhan pandemic stress I'm experiencing right now.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #27 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #Illustrated #Funny #Death

Hardcore History podcast by Dan Carlin

This is my favourite military history podcast. Carlin has a great voice, easy conversational explanations of important battles and wars in the history of mankind. Some will say he's not an academic, but that's precisely why he's interesting to listen too. He's great at building up a narrative around these events and packaging it into an easy to listen to format.


Mythology by Edith Hamilton,

This book is exactly what you expect, all the major, and minor stories from Greek mythology from the Troy, to Hercules written in an authoritative, well-researched text. Before every story she explains a bit from which author she sourced the myth. There are handy family trees of the Gods in the back. It was a bit unexpected, but a bit of the end of the book talks about Norse mythology. That was an interesting section and almost wish it was longer. I know precious little about Norse mythology. This means I might have to read Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology book to educate myself (I wonder if he has illustrations in that book?)


Shah of Shahs by Ryszard Kapuściński

This is the second Kapuściński book I've read so far this year. This author has a poetic way of describing current events, and turns them into a Homer-esque epic. This book is about the last Shah of Iran that was eventually kicked out of power in 1979. I don't know much about this part of the world but Kapuściński puts things together in away that gives me the narrative of what happened.


China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh

Cool book. Strange title. It's an alternative future where USA went through a 'Communist revolution'. China is looked up to for their well run society. The main character is 'bent' (homosexual). Some of the stories take place on the communes on Earth, and others in New York and in China. There are a few characters that are sort of interlinked in these stories. They were very interesting vignettes of life in a world dominated by 'Communism' where USA is not the global hegemon.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #24 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #China #Mars #SciFi #MaureenFMcHugh #SpeculativeFiction

Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim,

A real story of a South Korean “comfort woman” (sexual slave) forced to work for the Japanese military during World War 2. This story is told through flashbacks and snippets of interviews with Lee Ok-Sun. This book is in black and white. This graphic novel doesn't dwell in the gore, and violence. The most brutal scenes in the book is the black page where Ok-sun explains how she was raped in speech bubbles. I really liked the authors use of brush strokes, and the metaphor of 'grass' too.