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review 2018-03-21 19:32
The Accusation by Bandi
The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea - Deborah Smith,Bandi

This is a collection of short stories criticizing the North Korean government. Purportedly, it was written by an anonymous North Korean official still living in the country, and smuggled out as a handwritten manuscript. Upon reading the first couple of stories, though, I began to wonder if that backstory is a publicity stunt. I’ve read a lot of contemporary English-language fiction, and a lot of fiction from countries around the world, and what struck me about this collection is that it is written in a style characteristic of modern English-speaking authors. This makes it easy reading for those audiences: it’s written with the immediacy and emotional intimacy with the characters that one typically sees in English-language fiction; it has that pleasing balance of dialogue and narrative, that easy-to-read plot-driven flow, that immersion in the characters’ thoughts and feelings that characterizes most popular fiction today. Authors from cultural traditions very different from the mainstream western ones rarely write this way unless they have immigrated to an English-speaking country, even though almost all of them would have ready access to popular fiction, unlike someone living in North Korea.

Having these doubts, I poked around on the Internet for more information about the book (the New Yorker article is worth a read). No one has proven it to be a hoax, and a vocabulary analysis apparently indicates that the writer used North Korean language, which has diverged somewhat from South Korea’s over the decades of separation. However, I found it significant that journalist Barbara Demick, author of the fantastic Nothing to Envy (a nonfiction narrative of life in North Korea, based on her research and defectors’ accounts) also doubts the official version. Her doubt seems to stem primarily from the author’s keen awareness of the regime’s internal contradictions; this is apparently an understanding that takes defectors significant time outside the country to fully comprehend.

As for the book itself, each of its seven stories is a quick and easy read, though they average around 30 pages each. However, after the first two or three stories, which were fairly enjoyable, I began to tire of their incessant drumbeat. All of the stories are about how the regime and life in North Korea crushes a character in one way or another (usually metaphorically, but in one case physically): there is no conflict that doesn’t have the Party at its base and no possibility of happiness. At the end of the final story, a character, gazing at the red-brick local Party office, reflects, “How many noble lives had been lost to its poison! The root of all human misfortunate and suffering was that red European specter that the [party official] had boasted had put down roots in this land, the seed of that red mushroom!” Perhaps I ought to take the idea that the government could be the cause of all human suffering as evidence that the author does in fact live in North Korea, but in any case, such a simplistic view of the world doesn’t make for high-quality literary work.

Whoever the author may be, the fundamental storytelling skills are certainly there, despite a singular political focus, and it will be an especially interesting book for those who haven’t read much about North Korea. But for those who want to learn more about the country, I recommend starting with the brilliant Nothing to Envy.

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review 2018-03-21 13:40
4.2 Out of 5 Never Stop, Never Forget Stars
Never Never - Colleen Hoover; Tarryn Fisher;





Never Never

Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher



Charlize Wynwood and Silas Nash have been best friends since they could walk. They've been in love since the age of fourteen. But as of this morning...they are complete strangers. Their first kiss, their first fight, the moment they fell in love...every memory has vanished. "I don't care what our real first kiss was," he says. "That's the one I want to remember." 

Charlize and Silas must work together to uncover the truth about what happened to them and why. But the more they learn about the couple they used to be...the more they question why they were ever together, to begin with. 

"I want to remember what it feels like to love someone like that. And not just anyone. I want to know what it feels like to love Charlie."






This is so much better when you have all three books in one.  No stopping…just reading straight through.  I read the first book in this series a while ago.  I liked it…but it was just too unfinished to get high enough rating from me. 


Never Never is a teen love story with a forever kind of feel.  I inevitably felt like I could have done without the blatant promiscuity between Charlie and Silas but their love story is super sweet, so I'll try to let it slide.  If you are turned off by stories that have a splash of paranormal then this might not work for you.  I myself, really enjoy stories like this, though.  Maybe, even more than full-blown paranormal…I just feel like I connect when it's more subtly done.




4.2/5 STARS - GRADE=B+








Main Characters~ 4.2/5

Secondary Characters~ 4/5

The Feels~ 4/5

Pacing~ 4/5

Addictiveness~ 4.2/5

Theme or Tone~ 4/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 4.3/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4.2/5

Originality~ 4.5/5

Ending~ 4.3/5  Cliffhanger~ Nope.


Book Cover~ Love the new cover for the combined books in the series.

Series~ Never Never (The Complete Series)

Setting~ NOLA

Source~ Own Kindle eBook



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review 2018-03-21 13:15
The Dark Side of an Author
The Dark Half - Stephen King

Well I haven't read "The Dark Half" since I was a teen. I realize now why that was, probably because teen me was bored reading parts of this as adult me was now. I do think that parts of the book are fairly good (I loved the sparrows and the growing realization of who George Stark was)  but think that the book gets bogged down a ton with way too much talking that goes nowhere and an ending that kind of fizzles. You end up having to read the other Castle Rock books in order to find out what happens to the characters mentioned in this one which is okay, but does make it that "The Dark Half" is not a true standalone book. 


"The Dark Half" was written in response to when Stephen King was outed as writing as Richard Bachman. I have to say that "The Dark Half" really does read like a Bachman book (go read "The Long Walk," "The Running Man," and "The Regulators"). Most of those works seemed to have violence for violence sake. Not my favorite of King's works, but still interesting. "The Dark Half" is mostly brutal with parts broken up by characters talking to each other about things we as readers are already privy to. So most of the book you are just waiting for everyone to figure out things and for the ending to come. 


"The Dark Half" is about author Thad Beaumont who has recently come out and admitted that he has written under the name of  George Stark for years. Thad and his wife decide to declare George Stark dead after a man tries to shake them down for money to keep their secret hidden that he really is George Stark. Thad has started to find some success writing under his own pen name and thinks now is a good time to lay Stark to rest. Unfortunately, someone takes significant pains to go out and murder anyone connected with the "death of George Stark." When all signs point to Thad or someone close to him being responsible for these deaths, Thad starts wondering if someone is delusional enough to think that they are really George Stark.


The character of Thad intrigued me in this one. I do feel bad about what ends up happening to him (see "Needful Things" and "Insomnia"). Thad has a good life and when you realize his connection to "George Stark" I ended up being moved to mostly pity for the guy.

The other characters in this one come in and out and don't really sing to me. We have Thad's wife Liz that felt like an afterthought after the first couple of hundred pages. I wished for more from that character.

Sheriff Alan Pangborn I honestly didn't care for in this one. I liked him much better in "Needful Things" he is also referenced down the line in "Bag of Bones." I think the issue for me is that the sheriff blames Thad for what has occurred, but I didn't and thought it was weird how the book ended. 


We also get a plethora (not really but it felt like it) of characters who ended up being murdered by George Stark and reading all of their bad ends was gruesome after a while.

The writing was okay, but as I said, there was way too much talking going on. I found myself really bored after we get to Part II: Stark Takes Charge. Also since I had this in paperback format, it was hard to read some of the writing that was included in this book that was in cursive and showing what Thad and Stark's writing looked like. I honestly wish I had a magnifying glass.

The setting of this book is pretty familiar to Constant Readers. We are back with Castle Rock, Maine the site of some insanity that has gone on in many a King book. I always wonder why people never move away from that place. The first book in the Castle Rock series would be "Cujo". After "The Dark Half" you can read "Needful Things" where you can follow up with Sheriff Alan Pangborn and hear about Thad Beaumont again. 


The ending was a meh to me. I mean I liked how King dealt with the problem of George Stark. It sounded awesome and terrifying (I will never look at sparrows the same way again) but it just took way too long to get there. 

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text 2018-03-21 13:00
Reading progress update: I've read 592 out of 592 pages.
The Dark Half - Stephen King

Eh. This was okay. Not the best King or the worst, it was definitely a middle of the road book. I honestly think reading about what become of Thad in "Needful Things", "Insomnia", and I think he is even mentioned in "Bag of Bones" makes you wish that King had ended this story a bit stronger. 

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text 2018-03-21 01:57
Reading progress update: I've read 354 out of 592 pages.
The Dark Half - Stephen King

The book is dragging a bit for me. This also reminds me why I was kind of meh towards most of KingsK works as Bachman. It's not bad, but we have George Stark murdering and Thad Beaumont, his wife's and the sheriff (Alan Pangborn) just sitting around talking everything to death.

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