Sunday, April 01, 2012

Sunday Salon: Reviews that Made me Want to Read the Book

It's been forever since I did one of these (an idea I got from Jen Robinson's Book Page) but one of my Bloggiesta goals was to clean out my Google stars and most of my stars are book reviews that looked promising! So!

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West Blaine Harden

It's about the only person we know of who has gotten out of North Korea who was born and raised in a prison camp.

Adult Books 4 Teens says:

Harden originally wrote Shin’s story for the Washington Post, and he brings a journalist’s eye to filling in backstory on North Korean policies and conditions. For example, why does South Korea turn a relatively blind eye to these atrocities? The answer may surprise. This is the kind of eye-opening book that motivates change and involvement.

I say, after years of reading about genocides and totalitarian regimes, I'm amazed by how much current conditions in North Korea continue to shock me.

Left for Dead: A Young Man's Search for Justice for the USS Indianapolis Pete Nelson

The USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese torpedo during WWII. 300 men died in the initial attack. Nearly 900 survived, only to spend 4 days in shark infested water with little or no supplies. In the end, just over 300 survived.

But, as Becky's Book Reviews explains:

Probably half the book is devoted to Hunter Scott's mission for justice, to see the ship captain's name and reputation restored, to "prove" that the court martial against him was absurd and unjust. There are several chapters discussing how he got important people to pay attention to the new facts and work together to bring this before the House and Senate and pass legislation that would help restore the truth.

And who is Hunter Scott? A kid who did a history fair project on the USS Indianapolis. His research changed history.

Highland Fling Katie Fforde

Light romantic comedy set in Scotland? Sign me up!

Book Nut says:

It's fluff. Really. There's no way around it. It's predictable, enjoyable, fluffy romance, where you want the guy to get with the girl, and the stupid, silly boyfriend out of the way. Everything else about the plot is immaterial. There isn't much sex (just one scene, in a snow cave... cozy...), though Fforde does know how to write a good kiss.

The Storyteller Antonia Michaelis

A translated book that brings back the darkness and horror of fairy tales. Yes.

Bookshelves of Doom says:

Okay. Short version? Read this book. It's beautifully written—and the translator should get an award, because, WOW—it's layered and beautifully crafted, the prose is gorgeous, Leonard Cohen's lyrics are a perfect fit, and the story is dark and tragic and devastating (I wasn't joking about blubbering at work) and it made me want to crawl under my desk until it was time to go home. In a good way.

Castle of Shadows Ellen Renner

A missing queen, a mad king, and a princess living in a castle run by a housekeeper (I'm imagining Mrs. Danvers).

Charlotte's Library says:

Set in a quasi-Victorian world similar to our own, but with a dash of steampunky alternate technology, this is one that should appeal to those who like plucky kids caught in complicated situations, where not much happens in the way of outright adventure, but plenty of locks are picked, clues uncovered, and suspicion clashes with friendship. Charlie doesn't actually accomplish all that much--she never exactly saves the day and sets things to right. Her story is not a hero's quest, but rather a satisfying journey from life as a forgotten pawn to an active and intelligent participant in her world, capable of making true friends and assuming responsibilities.

It's not a cheerful, cozy read--it is, after all, set somewhat clausterphobically in a castle of shadows, and Charlie's life is pretty horrendous. The ending comes with surprising, sudden darkness, that was somewhat distressing, involving a gruesome death (so those who don't like gruesome deaths should be warned!).

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