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Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild

A book about the UK campaign to stop the slave trade in the West Indies. It was a highly enjoyable read that illuminated this part of history to me. I was very ignorant about the slave trade in the Caribbean, and how involved the British Empire was at the time. In the current times of Black Lives Matter, I think it is important to know the history of the slavery. I happened to stumble upon this book in the used book store last week, and was grateful that I did.

It is an incredible accomplishment that 12 men could start a social movement to stop the slave trade. It did take almost 50 years, but sometimes it takes a while to change people's minds.

May revolution never cease until despotism is extinct.

This book gives me hope for our world. In the 1700s, when some people started to campaign against the slave trade, it was so much a part of the economy, that it seemed foolhardy to think they would ever succeed. Just as in the times of Kings, who could've imagined states without monarchs? I hope our world has reached a tipping point for universal income/climate change. Before COVID-19, it seemed inconceivable that the world could change quickly, but we saw how quickly this thing brought countries and the traditional capitalist system to its knees; there is hope for us yet.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #80 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #history #slavery #AdamHochschild

White Fox by Chen Jiatong

(The White Fox #1)

A charming story about a fox growing up to be an adult, and trying to fulfill their destiny. This book is translated from Chinese. Sadly, this is only part one of the series. The ending of the story is sort of a cliffhanger and I don't really like it when authors do that.

There are cute illustrations in the novel, but not enough in my opinion. I think illustrations in these sort of young adult chapter books are part of the magic of reading paper books. Illustrations, photos, maps, and diagrams are certainly a way paper books still have an edge over eBooks.

Nevertheless, this is a good story for younger readers. It's written as sort of a myth, with the main character encountering obstacles along the way and how he deals with them.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #79 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #TranslatedFiction #YA

Taiwan's Imagined Geography: Chinese Colonial Travel Writing and Pictures, 1683-1895 by Emma Jinhua Teng

I may never be considered anything more than a 外國人 by most Taiwanese, but at least I won't be an ignorant foreigner. I read many, many books about Taiwan. This was an interesting book about an angle of Taiwan's history I never explored before: Qing colonial expansion/writing about Taiwan.

It was a lovely book, with illustrations, and full-color plates. Many don't consider China a colonial power, but it was. gasp Not all colonial powers were White Europeans?!?! I enjoyed this book immensely.

If you are interested in Taiwanese history, and want to find out more about the time Taiwan was a “Qing Colony”, how they talked bout Taiwan, what they thought about the 'savages', then this is the book for you.

Pick up this book from 南天書局 SMC Publishing Inc.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #78 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #Taiwan #EmmaJinhuaTeng #QingDynasty #Colonialism

Hunger: A Novella and Stories by Lan Samantha Chang

These are some very emotional, and raw stories. She is either an excellent writer or she has had quite a tough life, if these stories are drawn from her own lives, or her family's. These kind of immigrant stories are just what I needed to read. It's good to step back from the craziness that is 2020 and think, “things are tough, but it will pass”.

The novel is taken from the novella in this book, titled “Hunger”. It is 'only' a novella, but builds up a painful story about a family under the abusive violinist father. The character is very good at building up the characters in a very short amount of time.

I am rating this 5 stars because this was an unexpected treasure I discovered. I want to celebrate this discovery and hopefully encourage others to pick up this book. There were a few 'ok' stories, but seriously, this book is worth picking up just for the long novella “Hunger”.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #77 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #ShortStory #LanSamanthaChang #immigrant

The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara

Another selection from the Man Booker International 2020 shortlist, but this one was far more interesting than Hurricane Season. This story is a 're-imagining' of the famous Argentinian poem, Martin Fierro. The main character of this book is the wife of Fierro, that is mentioned very briefly in the original poem. I knew none of this before I started reading this book, but still enjoyed this book about gaucho's and the love between China [pronounced CHEE-na] Iron and her traveling companion. The first half of the book is about the journey, the second turns into a love story, and the last part of the book is about the destination and where they all end up.

P.S. The book cover is absolutely beautiful. I really love the colors, and simplicity of it.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #76 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #TranslatedFiction #ManBookerIntl2020 #GabrielaCabezónCámara

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor

This was not at all what I was expecting. There were overlapping stories of the people involved with the Witch's death. The Witch turns out to be a transexual/homeosexual(?). There is a lot of sex in this book and even pedophilia. It was not a good read for me. I'm glad it was over.

I was expecting this book to be about a hurricane happening in the Florida/South East America area. I'm not sure why I thought that though.

This turned out to be the first book nominated for the Man Booker International prize that I actually disliked.

Rating: ★ Book #75 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #TranslatedFiction #ManBookerIntl2020 #FernandaMelchor

Something Will Happen, You'll See by Christos Ikonomou

Another book from Ikonomou of stories, more like vignettes, of the daily struggle to put together a scrap of dignity when you have no money, and the economy is so broken in Greece during 'austerity'.

In a thousand years if the world still exists maybe the things that are happening now will have become fairytales. And parents will tell their children stories about strange people who once lived and died for a handful of cash and the children will listen with their mouths hanging open and all these things will seem magical and unreal.


Network Effect by Martha Wells

(The Murderbot Diaries #5)

I've read all the books in the series so far. I usually don't read books from a series, especially not more than one*, but Murderbot is like an old friend. He's sassy. He's violent, and he doesn't really like human emotions. All-in-all, he's my kinda guy! In this story, we find him re-united him with another character I like from the series, ART. This is the first book where Murderbot is fully 'free'. The ending seems to set it up for Murderbot to go on another adventure. There are also a few loose ends that could conceivably make it into book 6, or into some short stories.


The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

A deep look at chaos a vengeful, deceitful, 'special' person can wreak upon your life. This book is about one such woman, Zenia, that brings down destruction into three women's lives who sorta knew each other from their university days.


March Was Made of Yarn: Reflections on the Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown by Elmer Luke (editor), David Karashima (editor)

A painful exploration of how an earthquake, a tsunami, and then a nuclear power meltdown changed people's lives. This is a collection of short stories translated from Japanese.

Why am I drawn to these stories of pain? I guess where there is pain and suffering, there is injustice. Was it fair that a gigantic earthquake hit Japan? No. Life isn't fair, and mostly us poor humans are just muddling about trying to get through it all. How does this massive loss of life fit in with God's plan?

It always makes me sad and angry that I can't help out in these situations. I can at least help carry the burden of remembering their suffering, and hearing their stories.

Some of the stories were duds, but many were very good. The stories were mostly about the aftermath of the event. How did people cope? The feelings of guilt for surviving? Others were surreal stories. There was even a short manga in there.

A fitting book to remember a terrible event.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #72 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #Japan #fukushima #earthquake #OralHistory #ShortStory