Tuesday, January 31, 2017

December Reading: How I Finished My Bookish 2016

My December reading is introduced to you by Muuks!

  • Farida Khalaf, Andrea C. Hoffmann “The Girl Who Beat ISIS: Farida's Story” [Iraq, Germany]
  • Liquid City Volume 2 [the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia]
  • Eden S. French “Reintegration” [Australia]
  • Ji-Un Yun “Cynical Orange” vol.4-5 [South Korea]
  • Kathryn M. Drennan “To Dream in the City of Sorrows” [USA]
  • Per Hafslund “Löytöretki luontoon” (Naturens eventyr) [Norway] 
  • Holly Webb “Smudge the Stolen Kitten” [UK]
  • Agatha Christie “Ordeal by Innocence” [UK]

Short stuff online:

In 2016 I read books, poems and short stories by authors from Japan, UK, USA, Zimbabwe, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, China, Finland, Malawi, France, South Africa/Sweden, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tanzania, Egypt/Sudan, Spain, Kenya, Uganda, South Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Iraq, Germany, Australia and Norway. I read a bit fewer books than in 2015, but they were very diverse! ^u^

The Girl Who Beat ISIS: Farida's Story
In August 2014, Farida, like any ordinary teenage girl, was enjoying the summer holidays before her last year at school. But Farida lived in the mountains of northern Iraq — and what happened next was unimaginable. Her village was an ISIS target.
ISIS jihadists murdered the men and boys, including her father and brother, before taking Farida and the other women prisoner. This is the story of what happened to Farida after she was captured: the beatings, the rapes, the markets where ISIS sold women like cattle, and Farida's realisation that the more resistant she became, the harder it was for her captors to continue their atrocities against her. So she struggled, she bit, she kicked, she accused her captors of going against their religion, until, one day, the door to her room was left unlocked. She took her chance and, with five younger girls in her charge, fled into the Syrian desert.
Farida showed incredible courage in the face of the unthinkable, and now with The Girl Who Beat ISIS she bravely relives her story to bear witness. Searing and immediate, this is the first memoir by a young woman that shows first-hand what life is like for innocents caught up in the maelstrom of day-to-day life with ISIS.”

An important book that cannot be easy to read. We follow the story of Farida (not her real name) and other young Yazidi girls kidnapped by ISIS. Even though I knew she'd escaped, I was on the edge of my seat! Will she escape now? Not yet? Will she escape alone or can she save others, too? Many people helped them escape, but it was really heartbreaking that, after all the trauma and abuse, when they got to the refugee camp, the older women there shamed them, called them defiled and lamented they cannot be married now. Yeah, that's exactly how you welcome home someone who escaped sexual slavery. : (

Liquid City Volume 2
“Liquid City Volume 2 once again brings together creators from Southeast Asia to offer an amazing diversity of stories. From Lat's vignette of a soccer game in Malaysia and Ivan Song's poignant, near-future tale of childhood memories, to Vietnamese artist Nguyen Thanh Phong's account of his adventures in South Korea, this collection showcases an incredible variety of styles and genres. War, fantasy, drama, road trips, and Robot Rabbits - you'll find it all and more in Liquid City Volume 2.”

Yay, one more anthology of Southeast Asian comics! (See author list here.) Once again, a very diverse collection of art styles and genres. I liked this volume a bit more than the first one, maybe because it featured more countries? Or because there were more puppies?

It must be puppies.

“Lexi Vale, a streetwise cyborg, negotiates deals for the crime lords who rule the anarchic city of Foundation. Her unique mind-reading implant gives her a crucial edge over her rivals – and now its creators want their technology back.
Pursued by the ruthless Codists, Lexi finds refuge with an unlikely group of rebels and outsiders. As the hunt intensifies, she is drawn into the emotional lives of her allies, whose pasts connect in unexpected ways with her own.”

This book is like a movie or a TV show. A really cool one. Sooo much action! We've got a diverse ensemble cast with the central character of Lexi Vale, a nonbinary cyborg with a mind-reading implant and unsatisfiable sexual appetites. ;p Multiple other LGBTQ characters in a dystopian world divided by class. Resistance. Guns, cars, body mods, night clubs and outcasts. Bonus points for all the vegan food (which is very plausible in a future post-apocalyptic world, but mostly I liked that detail because I'm a vegetarian). Now I want scrambled tofu, damn.

Cynical Orange vol.4-5
Still can't say it's my favourite manga series, but I'm certainly curious where these characters are going. Unfortunately, I discovered the library doesn't have any more volumes...

To Dream in the City of Sorrows (re-reading)
“Ambassador to the alien world of Minbar, former Babylon 5 commander Jeffrey Sinclair is one of the first to learn the truth about the Shadows, the ancient race pursuing the destruction of the galaxy. Sinclair also discovers a startling secret: he is the linchpin in the plan to stop them. Now, Sinclair is asked to revive the legendary Minbari warrior group, the Rangers, but it may cost him his one chance to love... and his life.”

I was re-watching Babylon 5 season 3, and when I got closer to the episodes where Sinclair returns to Babylon 5 I felt like re-reading this book. I enjoyed it more this time around, the timing was perfect! I don't think it would be very interesting to those who for some reason still haven't watched Babylon 5 (boooo), but if you're a B5 fan, it's a must! You'll learn so much about the Minbari, for example. ;)

Löytöretki luontoon
An old Norwegian book about nature, translated to Finnish. The text was a bit hard to read for me, but I persevered. =D My favourite thing is that the author called blue tits “tyrants in angelic clothes” - so true! They are cute but fierce! They scare away all the other birds from feeders, even though blue tits are very small!

Smudge the Stolen Kitten
“Olivia is very protective over her lovely new kitten, Smudge. But when her big brother's naughty friend Rob comes to tea, she worries that he'll tease Smudge. Olivia hides the little kitten away, but later that night she is nowhere to be found. Could Smudge's disappearance have anything to do with Rob?”

Just like Jess the Lonely Puppy by the same author (I read it in March), this little book was cuuuute!

Ordeal by Innocence
“Recovering from amnesia, Dr. Arthur Calgary discovers that he alone could have provided an alibi in a scandalous murder trial. It ended in the conviction of Jacko Argyle. The victim was Jacko's own mother, and to make matters worse, he died in prison. But the young man's innocence means that someone else killed the Argyle matriarch, and would certainly kill again to remain in the shadows. Shaded in the moral ambiguity of murder, the provocative psychological puzzler of guilt, vengeance, and blood secrets is among Agatha Christie's personal favorites.”

This Christie book is a bit too slow compared to the others I've read, but I liked the psychology of these characters. The clueless alibi-provider didn't realise what his information would do to the family. Now they need to figure out which one of them killed the mother, and so suspicions grow...

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