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review 2018-02-18 02:35
A Thousand Miles to Freedom: My Escape from North Korea
A Thousand Miles to Freedom: My Escape from North Korea - David Tian,Sébastien Falletti,Eunsun Kim

I learned a lot from this book. My cartoonish visions of North Korea become less of a caricature with every good new information source, but I'm seeking these things out. It's way too easy in the US to see the DPRK in a two-dimensional way -- much like we saw the USSR during the Cold War, but with even less information. So I'm glad for anything that can give me more information about the North Korean people and the country. For instance, the fish is apparently excellent!


This is an incredibly interesting memoir told in the most bland way possible. I really wanted to love it, and I'm quite impressed with this woman and her family. I don't know whether it was the translation or the writing itself, but the writing could not have been more dull. It's a real shame, since the story could have been thrilling. Perhaps with a helpful co-writer, this would have made a bigger impression.


It feels a bit like the author wanted to please everyone. She works hard not to offend, so every negative comment is offset by a positive partner. "America seems X, but I love Y about America." The only thing that doesn't get this overly level-headed treatment is Kim Jong-un and family. I wondered from time to time if even that was done to please her readers. (I doubt they're handing out copies in the DPRK.) It was clear she tried not to make this book political, but how can you write about an "escape" from your home country without it being somewhat political. 


One thing that caught my interest is how many successful escapes there are from North Korea. This isn't expanded on in any way, and it's hard to get an actual "count" since many people stay in China illegally (and dangerously, as Eunsun Kim's story portrays.) I did some interweb searching afterward and apparently the defectors who make it to South Korea (the most common place to head) are usually young women much like Eunsun Kim, so reading her story is a good example of the dangers and perils involved in getting out of the DPRK and eventually safety in another country.

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review 2018-02-17 23:23
The Last Arrow
The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life - Erwin Raphael McManus
Title: The Last Arrow
Author: Erwin Raphael McManus
Publisher: WaterBrook
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five

"The Last Arrow" by Erwin Raphael McManus

My Thoughts....

What a very interesting inspirational read where I enjoyed the stories that came from the Bible of Elisha and Elijah where one will learn how to embrace ones future. From this read I had thoughts of wanting to change my way of thinking about my future and just what I need to be now doing. This read will definitely give one a good understanding of what is asked of 'you and what is God's will not selling yourself short or giving up.'

This is definitely a inspiring read for one who wants a change in ones life where you find yourself just existing. One will be inspired and challenged to live a 'bold, purposeful and intentional life' where you can rise up and believe God for much more.

In the end "The Last Arrow" will definitely be a challenge and motivated to see you where you are now and what you are doing with your life. All in all 'The Last Arrow' deals with 'leadership, personal grown and most of all Christ like living' where one is given direction in just how one can be active in God's plan for our life's. Would I recommend this read? YES! It is a wonderful good read for ones soul.
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review 2018-02-10 03:04
How to Stop Time: Ohh, I just LOVED this book!
How to Stop Time - Matt Haig

“History was, is, a one-way street. You have to keep walking forwards, but you don't always need to look ahead. Sometimes you can just look around and be happy right where you are.”                     ― Matt Haig, How to Stop Time


This was just released this week in the US, and I snagged myself a copy after seeing that the library waitlist would take up one of my hold spots for ages. I made a big mistake whilst waiting in the line to pay for it: I started reading. (You see, I have library books out and ARCs to review...) I have never been so impatient on a ride home. I really wanted to read this book. I got home, kicked off my shoes and hopped absurdly around until I got into PJs -- all the while reading, or at least trying to read. Once I'd wrangled myself into comfy clothes, I read straight through the night.

Why? I wish I knew. It's not that the story is a crazed page turner. It's more that the protagonist, Tom Hazard, is the most lovely and poignant man I've read in a while. I fell in love with this guy. Tom has a condition that makes him grow old veeeerrrrrry slowly. He is broken-hearted after losing his wife and child and has decided never to get close to anyone again, lest he hurt them or get hurt himself again. All he wants is his child, wife and to be a teacher. He needs to keep moving at least once every eight years, not lay down roots, not allow his picture to be taken, make connections to nobody and certainly not tell his secret. Because of this, he -- not unreasonably -- feels exceedingly unique and alone. He's miserable and self-protective all while he just keeps living. It's a lot like a deep depression that goes on for more than 400 years. 

Matt Haig describes the human experience so beautifully, I couldn't wait see what philosophical "pow" was on the next page. I stopped and read many parts aloud simply because they felt so terrible and wonderful and true all at the same time. The whole book is basically about how to navigate the pain of human existence. Along the way we meet Shakespeare, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, other luminaries; we see historical events and watch the map get larger and more detailed, the industrial revolution, the jazz and internet ages; we watch the "New World" come to life, go from Tombstone to Trump.

All of this comes via Tom with his aching pain, isolation, the absurdity of his own existence, intense love, fear of loving or hurting those he loves, and his withdrawal from other people...all while he keeps trudging through century after century (with extremely modern viewpoints.) Tom's a music lover and a reader. So we get insight on those things, nature, some very quotable bits on everything from plastic surgery to toilets, facebook, the theory of relativity... "Change is just what life is. It is the only constant I know."

Lest that all sound boring, which it does to me (good thing I don't write books!) there's also a mysterious "helper" who doesn't seem so great, a dark and shadowy organization of "albas," daring rescues and hit jobs along the way, danger and romance. 

But the real story here is how, even when someone is completely extraordinary in some ways, we're all still human, complete with all the foibles that come with that situation. So while this is a sweeping historical novel in some ways, a romance in some ways, a mystery, a comedic tour-de-force, it's perhaps the most existential book I've read in a very long time, and it's worth a read with a notebook nearby so you can write down all the quotes I haven't added yet.

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review 2018-02-09 17:43
I'm sure I would prefer the movie
Wuthering Heights - Richard J. Dunn,Emily Brontë

A tale of revenge, envy, pride, love denied, family strife, with an orphan in it? This should be my jam! Alas, it was not.


This was a weird read for me. I kept trying to figure out why it was such a slog. I usually love to read about people I love to hate, and almost every character qualifies. Instead I hoped Lockwood and Nelly would just have sex already so they'd shut up. (Also, I'm sure I cheated in high school. I definitely did not read this on the dates I've scribbled in the front cover. Bad Ella!)


I do admire the twisted way Emily Brontë told this tale. It's a complex way to get a story out and very smart. While this is clearly brilliant writing, I just didn't fancy it. It's a bit like some Bach -- I can appreciate the technical skill and accomplishment, but I just don't enjoy listening to it.


I never know how to award stars in this situation? It's not really a matter of I liked it versus I didn't. There's an added dimension that demands a few stars... Anyway, I'm glad I finally forced myself to finish the last 18 pages. At least it's over, and I can now say I've read it. I do wonder why I had the idea that this was a romantic story, and I'm sure I would have liked it less if it was. I can't honestly figure out why I disliked it, but I did.


(This is one where I'm almost positive I would prefer the movie.)

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review 2018-02-09 12:43
long book!
River - India R. Adams River - India R. Adams
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted my copy of this book direct from the author. This is book 2 in the Stranger in The Woods series, and you really MUST read Rain, book one first. I really enjoyed that one. This one?? Not so much. Mostly because this book is LONG!!! Rose had her baby, Rain right at the end of book one. This one is about the run up to River's birth. Ryder is River's father. It is again written first person, present tense, multi point of view, mostly Rose and Ryder, with some Gunner and a few other, less savoury characters, but it is right that they have a say. And it bothered me more here, than in Rain, the present tense thing, and I've no idea WHY! There is a huge chunk of the book that was kinda...trippy....for want of a better word. When Rose and Rain are kidnapped by King and are dwelling in another plane, I got lost. There are two or three names for the same body that is inhabited by King. Sometimes his speech is in italics, and sometimes not. I'm still not entirely sure about the past life thing between King and Rose! There is, I think, a MUCH bigger picture that still isn't clear for these characters, and sometimes that's a good thing but here?? I'm thinking not so much. I have no idea, not a single clue, where this story is going, and I felt that right down to my bones as I was reading. I began to skim far far more than usual, and that is never a good thing. I did, however, read this book in one single sitting, and it ain't no novella, let me tell ya! Not sure how many pages it is, but it took me 5 hours! So it kept me mostly engaged, except the trippy bit which was confusing to say the least! So, because I read it in one go, because everyone who needed to has a say, and because I really do need to know where this is going... 4 stars **same worded review will appear elsewhere**


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