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Fiction

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.

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How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee

Another tale of sexual slavery, 'comfort women', in Singapore during World War 2. This story is told from the future, looking back in the past. The focus of this story is how the experience devastated the women for the rest of their lives. After their terrible ordeal, they had another one to enduring – being were shunned and ostracized, by family and friends.

The story follows one of these comfort women, Wang Di, as she is reaching the end of her life. She has never told anybody what happened to her during the war, not even her own husband. Now that her husband has passed away, she feels regret for not telling him. Another part of the story is picked up by a young boy, Kevin. His grandma had something that happened to her during the war too, but he doesn't discover it until he discovers old letters. Between the present stories of Wang Di, and Kevin, we get flashbacks of what happened to Wang Di in the 1940s. The stories all converge at the end due to a discovery, and subsequent investigation, by Kevin after his own grandma dies.

I enjoyed this book a lot. I liked how the stories were woven together, and there was a glimmer of happiness at the end of the story. These women have had such a tough life: first being abused by the Japanese soldiers, then by their families, and even governments didn't want to know anything about it. I like how Wang Di takes control of her story by telling it. By telling her story, she unburdens herself a little bit, and hopefully teaches those who are listening about this terrible time, so that it may never be repeated.

I always get angry when reading books about 'comfort women'. Everyone knows about the Holocaust and what Germany did during the war, but it seems that Japan made it through the war with minimal damage to its reputation. I guess America felt pity for them after dropping two nuclear bombs on them? Many people who don't live in Asia know precious little about the horrors the Japanese Imperial army inflicted on people in Taiwan, China, Korea, Manchuguo, Malaya, and Singapore. To remember these stories, is to honor their memories.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #43 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

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The Trial by Franz Kafka

For me this novel was good, but I didn't feel it was ground breaking. To be fair, I'm sure I've read a lot of modern novels by authors who were influenced by Kafka. This was still a funny read, and I loved the absurdity of it all. I'm sure if I read this when it came out, it would've seemed fresher to me.

Rating: ★★★ Book #17 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

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The Birthday Buyer by Adolfo García Ortega

How to even review a book like this? It was painful reading it but also cathartic. This is the fictional account of a 3-year old boy, Hurbinek, mentioned in the memoir of an Auschwitz survivor.

Killing a child is easy, killing thousands of children is even easier, but it isn't all that easy to erase the memory of children after they are massacred. I'm not sure why, I sometimes think it is because the lives of dead children are lives that were not lived and that must exist as fables, in a kind of timeless limbo set in history, their unredeemed presence returning to wreak a just revenge. If I believed in ghosts, I would only believe in the ghosts of massacred children.

I've never read a book like this. The author imagines the pain of the boy. He invents stories of his life that might've been. He was actually traveling to Auschwitz but had a major car accident on the way. This left his leg(s) broken and his stuck in a hospital in Germany. He seems to have written this book while in the hospital. He being temporarily crippled, and relating the imagined story of Hurbinek who was actually crippled and unable to speak.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #16 in my My 2020 Reading Challenge

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Galatea by Madeline Miller

Miller has a talent for bringing to life the world of Greek mythology. As a person of Greek heritage, I'm glad that she's bringing the passion of Greek myths to people who might know the myths. I read her books Circe, and Song of Achilles and thought they were both excellent stories that remained faithful the the spirit of the myths they were based on.

Galatea is based on a myth I'm not familiar with I'm ashamed to say. This is based on the story of Pygmalion. He is a gifted sculpture who makes a very beautiful marble statue of a woman. He falls in love with the statue and the Gods turn her into a real woman for him. Then they get married and live happily ever after (I suppose?).

The story of Galatea doesn't retell that part of the myth but rather looks ahead to what would their marriage would be like if the statue was married to the man. What feelings would she have? What would she life (or die for)? This is a short story but still a nice read. I love how Miller retells these myths from the female perspective with is almost always neglected in Greek mythology.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #43 in My 2019 Reading Challenge #Books #BookReview #Fiction #GreekMythology #ShortStory

4 interconnected stories of complicated lives that aren't all that different than our own. I started the book and it was first about a refugee who made it to Ireland so I wrongly thought it was a 'refugee' story. It wasn't, but it was very touching. I was getting near the end of the book and it wasn't apparent how they were connected but then it beautifully came together. I had to hold back some tears as I finished this book in a coffee shop.

... If you say something enough times, the repetition of it makes it true. Any notion you like, no matter how mad it seems, can be a fact's chrysalis. Once your say it loud enough and often enough it becomes debatable. Debates change minds. Debate is the larval stage of truth. Constant, unflagging, loud repetition completes your notion's metamorphosis into fact. The fact takes wing and flutters from place to place and mind to mind and makes a living, permanent thing of itself.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #28 in my 2019 Reading Challenge

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Washington Black – Esi Edugyan

Rating: ★★★★★

Beautiful story of a man of science who rescues a slave and the story of their friendship over the years.

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I'm not sure what to think of this novel. I'm a bit puzzled with the ending. It certainly had a great opening and was building momentum for awhile but then the other seems to have lost the plot. The ending is very odd.

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I thought I was getting into a sci-fi short story about the ability to look back into time, I didn't realize the story was actually about who owns history – historians, or the people who were affected by it? should we go back to analyze history or just move on? forgive and forget? This was a much more satisfying, thought-provoking and gruesome story than I could've imagined.

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I really enjoyed this simple story of an old man struggling against nature, himself, and of course a large fish. It's about luck, determination, and the fickle nature of life. It is a very fast read. It reads like a fable in the same way that The Alchemist does. I have saved this book on my shelf for my daughter when she grows up.

My Rating: ★★★★★ My 2019 Reading Challenge: Book #18

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