VANCOUVER, WA, United States | Member Since 2012
Once upon a time there was crazy SOB, who ran a country. He decided that anyone who opposes him must be eliminated, in fact it appears to remain a family tradition. This SOB decided that 3 generations of bad blood must be eliminated, therefore it became acceptable to work these people to death or simply kill them at will. Upon finishing this book, I thought I'd give it a 4-star rating, but as I cannot get this one out of my head, I am upping my rating to 5-stars. The author did a great job of capturing not only the life of someone born and raised in a North Korean work camp, but he opened my eyes to the life the average North Korean lives-impoverished and afraid.
This book is the story of Shin Dong-hyuk. Born to parents who were given an opportunity to have children for their adeptness at snitching. As you can imagine, this was not a nurturing environment for a child and Shin grew to be a snitch and thought of his mother of little more than a competitor for food. Shin had siblings, but did not have a relationship with the and only knew of their activities in a vague sense. Love was not something found in these camps, where people work to harvest rice and mine coal, even amongst the families.
Children attend elementary schooling until 10 years of age, at which time they start working. Shin and a group of his classmates were assigned to bring coal up from the mines at 10 year of age. Needless to say, one child was injured when a cart rolled back and crushed her big toe. The child was taken to receive medical treatment, where she had her toe amputated and treated with salt water. Work was not allowed to stop as a result of the accident. This was also the case when part of a dam collapsed during construction and crushed several people working in the area.
Not only does North Korea not have the means available to take care of its captives, the people who live outside the camps have long been suffering due to low food availability. After Shin escapes from the camp, he finds life on the outside not much better, other than these people are not beaten and force in to degrading tasks. Shin eventually makes it out of North Korea by bribing starving border guards with food and cigarettes, enabling him to get to China. Over the next year, Shin attempts works as a ranch hand and a dishwasher to earn the cash needed to survive and find his way to South Korea before he is found out by the Chinese government and sent back to North Korea. Yes, that's right, they send these people back to their country, so they do not have a rush of people crossing that need support and as to not "offend" its neighbor.
There are as many as 200,000 people imprisoned in North Korean work/concentration camps, the largest camp being 25 miles wide by 31 miles long. Yes this is a huge area, something like the size of Los Angeles and it is all enclosed by fencing and guard towers. I hoped on google earth to check out the areas these camps are in and there is no doubt about it-they are there, but North Korea continues to deny there existence.
Eventually Shin finds his way to South Korea. As it happens, South Korea will help anyone who escapes from North Korea. They re-educate these people, provide psychological assistance, medical treatment, a place to live and even a monthly stipend of $800 for two years, while these people attempt to create a normal existence for themselves.
I cannot stop thinking about this book and how it has opened my eyes. The atrocities documented in this book are disturbing to say the least, but people need to know what is going on in North Korea. I have been telling everyone I know about North Korea's treatment of its people and what is being done about it. One thought that keeps plaguing me regarding North Korea is, why isn't someone doing everything in their power to eliminate the people in charge of this country with WMD? We have entered in to a war before for similar reasons, but I feel like we turn a blind eye to this country. Why? Do they have to fire on us first? Or, do they just not have anything that will directly benefit us? I'm not one to understand the politics behind something, but I am angered by the treatment these peole are enduring. Read this book, spread the word, let's get these people some help. Visit the One Free Korea website for more information.
Yes, it really is a lovely story and worthy of a re-listen.
This is a story of a a couple of people who fall in love but circumstances prevent them from recognizing and following through with that love. I think that To Be Sung Underwater and Crossing the Borders of Time both have some similarities, but I really cannot think of another book that comes close.
The narrator did an excellent job with the Italian accents and words. It was very lovely!
A film...Oh, yes.....please! It would have to be something about the lasting desire to be with each other-between Pasquali and Dee in particular.
I read the synopsis of this book several times and also listened to the sample here on Audible. Neither really grabbed me and I actually removed it from my to-read list, but seeing another glowing review from an acquaintance with similar taste made me buy the audible version and I am not sorry in the least.
I am blown away by this book. I think this is considered YA and I typically have a difficult time with the language and general immaturity of of characters in YA novels, but this book is VERY different. The young protagonist, Temple, is just 15, but has lived on her own for years since zombies attacked her orphanage as a young girl. Temple was born after the world was taken over by Zombies 25 years prior, so this is the only life she knows. Temple has a shocking maturity level for her age, but most of all she retains a surprising sympathy towards the slugs (zombies), even though they have killed loved ones in the past.
This book is not your mindless zombie apocalypse novel, it is full of substance and philosophy-most definitely a worthy read.
Dumb young boy makes stupid mistake that dooms one woman to a life of pain. Boy feels terrible and eventually has the opportunity to apologize. That pretty much sums it up.
I think this book had the potential to be better, had there been more depth to the story. Does that make sense? I enjoyed the story enough to finish it, although I found it relatively depressing.
I was expecting to have more face time with Lincoln in this novel, unfortunately the double murder of an attorney and a black woman take center stage and the impeachment becomes more of a side show for most of the book. I think the idea behind this book was creative, but it just didn't hit the mark for me.
As far as the conspiracy theory and the mystery behind the murders, it did keep my attention as a mystery, but I found myself relatively detached from Lincoln's impeachment as a result. Someone familiar with the language of the law world may enjoy this book more than I did, since the author is an attorney, but I just found it overwhelming.
The Orphan Master's Son is a story of a most wondrous and great puppet master. His name is Kim Jong Il and he decides who a person is and what they do with their lives. In fact, if he doesn't like you, he will make you in to someone else and everybody else must accept this as well because this man is the Dear Leader and everything he does is for the betterment of his people.
At the start of the novel we meet Pak Jun Do. Jun Do lives in an orphanage with a man he believes to be his father, although we never learn the truth. He does well at jobs assigned to him and works his way up through the ranks as a government pawn, sent out on missions to snatch Japanese citizens from their shores and bring them back for the dear leaders amusement. He later joins a team of fisherman intent on catching shrimp for the Dear Leader feast.
Accidents happen during the course of these events and elaborate stories must be made up in order to ensure people involved are not punished because there is only a very slim window you can live in, to guarantee your own safety from the Dear Leaders wrath. These stories eventually make Jun Do a hero. He even gets to make a trip to Texas from North Korea. Later, Jun Do does something to land himself in a work camp, where he labors in the uranium mines which eventually leads to a run-in with Commander Ga , the Dear Leaders rival.
This is part where Johnson starts to lose me and it begins to be a struggle for me to continue with this book. I just had such a hard time accepting the likelihood that something like this would really happen. Unfortunately, this fact is central to most of the story, hence the difficulty stomaching the seriousness of the story. I do believe Johnson was attempting to demonstrate just how controlled people are by fear of the Dear Leader. The Dear Leader, undoubtedly, was quite please to be rid of his long-time rival.
The Orphan Master's son is a complex work for me. On one hand I feel it paints a pretty good picture of what life must be like for the average citizen in North Korea, but on the other hand I felt it was presented with an edge of sarcasm. This may be, partially, a result of my having listened to the audio book version. Another part of me knows that the author was trying to present just how ridiculous life under the rule "Dear Leader" can be. For me this took the edge off the seriousness of the material that I feel may make the uninformed reader discredit the ridiculous stories contained within the book.
When I was nearing the end of this book, I was sure that it would be a 3-star read for me. There are several times I guffawed, like when the Dear Leader gives food aid to all the starving people in the United States. After the prologue, I immediately boosted my book rating to 4 stars. I had not realized just how much research went in to this creation and have to give the man credit for going to North Korea and asking some tough questions. This is a tough book to rate, categorize and review, I could not recommend it outright. I can say that if you are interested in the life of North Koreans, this may be a book for you to read, but I think you need to have a least some idea of what the heck is going on in North Korea to have an appreciation for it.
This is the story of two brothers growing up in small town North Carolina. Jess is the younger brother to Christopher, a mute. One day while spying, they see something they should not. Christopher is caught spying which turns out to be a catalyst that leads to his death, due to their mother buying in to the local "snake charming" preachers ways.
The death crushes Jess and his father, but the boys mother appears to not have an interest in continuing to mother her children, choosing, instead, to run off with the preacher, who happens to be evil incarnate and possibly even a psychopath. Another fine example of people being led astray when they hunger for something more out of life.
This is a tough story to take and it will not be for everybody, because a child dies for seeing something they should not.
I Am Forbidden follows three-generations of a Hasidic Jewish family. Starting in Romania under the Iron Guard movement and finishing in the Satmar Hasidic community established in Williamsburg, New York. Hasidism is a strict religion rooted in the Torah. Their day-to-day lives are lived based on the interpretation of this book and everything is done in such a fashion to ensure that all family members in the same blood line have a place by the messiah's side. There are many activities deemed forbidden in Hasidism and if someone within the religion does something out of line with the laws of the religion, they become forbidden, unable to marry or have any sort of life within the religion.
At the start of the story we are introduced to Josef, who was hiding when his family was killed by members of the Iron Guard, Romania's anti-Semitic death squad. He is found by the family's gentile housemaid and she takes him in as her own. Five years after Josef rescue, he helps Mila, a young girl who has recently witnessed her family's death at the hand of the Iron Guard, escape from countryside by train. Later, Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community learns of Josef, who is the only living son of a prominent family murdered by the Iron Guard and retrieves him from the woman who has taken him as her own son.
Josef has a difficult time fitting back in to the Hasidic lifestyle after being taken in by the Stern family, who has previously taken in Mila, the girl Josef previously rescued. Mila proves to be a comfort to Josef while he tries to adjust to his changed life, but he is quickly sent away to live in the Satmar community in Williamsburg. The years go by and Mila continues to live with the Stern family in Paris, being raised as a sister to their eldest daughter, Atara, while Josef is raised as a highly accomplished Torah scholar.
Atara and Mila are close, but Atara gets a taste of books, which are forbidden. Although Mila is devoted to the religion, Atara decides she wants more from her life and she steals away in the middle of the night. Mila receives a marriage proposal from Josef in America. Mila is thrilled by the marriage proposal and leaves Paris to wed Josef. Josef and Mila are devoted to each other and I really got a strong sense of this while reading about their life together and through their attempts to have children.
This is where the story gets bound up in this severe religion, which could be the demise of the bloodline and the families ability to go on to be with the Messiah. Mila eventually goes on to have Rachael, and she proves to be a devote to the religion as her father Josef. When Rachael's daughter, Judith, is old enough to wed, secrets are revealed that cause tragedy.
Although I cannot imagine being involved in such a strict way of life, this story is presented in such a way that I felt I connected with the Satmar's way of life as if I was completely understanding of the reasoning. Although this is ultimately a sad story, there is beauty in the love and dedication these people have for their beliefs. Previous to this book, I had no knowledge of the Iron Guard. I had not previously realized that Romania, too, was involved in the Holocaust. This story would have received a 5-star rating had it not been for the disjointedness I felt during a couple of periods where the author skipped through time very quickly. If you are interested in understanding more about Hasidism, this is an excellent choice.
WOW! Talk about a serious mind trip....
Gone Girl is about a seriously dysfunctional marriage. To accurately create such a story you must blend, a heavy dose of fatal attraction with a dollop mind f--k and a few dashes of competitiveness. The twists and turns this story takes are crazy! There were a couple of times I thought the story would be rapping up soon, but no, we have another plot twist for you.
The story of Nick and Amy starts semi-slow, filling in the back story and giving us an idea of their day to day life. As the story continues the line is pulled tighter and tighter, making you tense with thought that the line is going to snap. But the plot twists compound one another and you just feel more and more drawn in to the story. There was a certain point where I, personally, could not put this one down.
Early on Nick and Amy meet at a party, eventually marry and live in New York. Later Nick's mother gets cancer and the two move from New York to Carthage, Missouri, since Nick's twin sister Margo is unable to manage both their sick parents. Nick is sure Amy will not like the idea and presents it as something they will be doing rather than asking. The narration switches between Amy and Nick, so we are able to get a good grasp on each spouses interpretation of events. Early on I found myself sympathizing with poor Amy and I couldn't help but despise Nick based on what Amy had to say about him.
On Nick and Amy's 5th wedding anniversary, Amy comes up missing and it looks like foul play. Nick is quickly implicated in her disappearance and the story continues on from there. There is a point where my sympathies for Amy very quickly jump ship and I start to feel for Nick. What a mind boggling surprise! There were several times when I thought, I have this figured out and sometimes I had it, but it didn't matter because another plot twist was waiting right around the corner it would surely catch me off guard.
There is no way to tell you more about this story without ruining it, but I will tell you I am seriously hard to please when it comes to mysteries or psychological thrillers, this novel is an exception.
No, it was predictable and not believable.
I thought the narrator did not do a very good job of making me believe that his brother was a bad person and he didn't distinguish the individual charters very well. It all just ran together.
I definitely had higher hopes for this story set in New York during 1845. A sort of a "Jack the Ripper-like" person is causing panic in the city after 19 child corpses are found buried outside the city.
I would've given this one 2-stars because it was not believable and oh so predictable. The redeemer for the 3-star rating was all the information regarding Catholics of that period. I had absolutely no idea that they were considered heretic's because they "worshiped" the pope and people considered them ignorant for their beliefs. Catholics, Prodestants, Christians...aren't they all praying to the same god? I never cease to be amazed by the conflict religion creates.
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