Tag Archives: The Orphan Master’s Son

WWW Wednesday, 23-July-2014

23 Jul

I was so determined to finish a book for MizB’s WWW meme. I’m going on an audio binge for the next week or so, so I was glad to finish a physical book!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  I’m making steady progress through  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien on my phone. I’ve had a lot more time to read eBooks this past week than I thought I would. On audio, I started The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe and I’ve made decent progress over the last week, which means I’m spending a lot of time alone in my car even though it was an Ozone Day on Monday (but I carpool so often!) Speaking of, my carpool buddy and I started Looking for Alaska by John Green and she is loving it, as am I. I hope we can finish it before it’s due back at the library! I started  The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen as I’d hoped to. I’m really loving it and forgot how much I enjoy books about royal courts. Yes, I do love Philippa Gregory. And because I love having more stories going than I can keep straight, I started an audiobook on my phone, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick. I’ll listed to this while I’m cleaning and cooking around the house. I think that’s enough books to be in at once!

Recently finished: I finished The Coward by Kyle R Bullock over the weekend. I enjoyed it and I’ll have a review up soon, as I promised Kyle I would by the end of the summer, which sadly is fast approaching! I posted a review for The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson if you want to check that out.

Reading Next:  My husband and I are road tripping to New York this weekend, so I’ve got Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs on audio for us to enjoy. We’ll likely finish it on the way home, but if not we’re going camping the weekend after and will have another two hours in the car each way. I’m so lucky my husband loves stories as much as I do!

Does anyone else get really excited over road trips because of the audiobook potential? Or is it just me? What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (3/5). A story that confirms living in North Korea must be terrible.

22 Jul

I made it through my second ebook! I never thought I’d read ebooks, but having these on my phone for the spare minutes of my life has been nice. I’m already getting into another, shorter, title on my phone that will cover a missing period for my Historical Fiction challenge. But I digress.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

Pak Jun Do lives at an orphanage, but he’s not an orphan. His father runs the orphanage but treats his son like the other boys, sending them to work during the day and sleeping on the ground at night. Escaping that life, Jun Do works in a prison mine where he learns to fight in the dark with such skill that he’s used to kidnap Japanese citizens off the beach at night. His military career develops to being an English-speaking spy and later traveling to Texas to retrieve something for the Dear Leader. When his team returns unsuccessfully, Jun Do is sent to prison again and he never emerges. At least, he doesn’t emerge as Jun Do, but as Commander Ga: husband of the most beautiful woman in Korea and a close adviser to the Dear Leader. He only has one goal; to get his new family out of North Korea and into safety.

This book had so much going on. Jun Do’s life was never stable, always changing location, job, loyalties, and goals. The story is told from several perspectives; Jun Do, later Commander Ga, the interrogator trying to figure out Commander Ga’s story, and the daily loudspeaker announcements telling the citizens about Commander Ga and the terrible ways he hurt the country. Despite all the voices, locations, and times of his life, this book worked. It worked really well and won the Pulitzer Prize.  It took me a while to get into this book, but I think it deserves the accolades and praise it’s received. Johnson gave a voice to a part of the world most of us ignore and know nothing about. I was really impressed with his subject matter.

It’s hard for me to know how accurately Johnson has portrayed life in North Korea because it’s not something I’ve been keeping up on in the news. From what I do know of it, Johnson’s portrayal met my expectations and exceeded them in details. I suspected these characters would be scared, vigilant of their words and actions. I loved how the characters wanted to fight back and oppose the Dear Leader and did so in their own little ways. These small acts together amount to almost nothing but keep hope alive in the hearts of the people. Their actions seemed logical to me; trying to stay in line just enough to be stay out of trouble, but trying to enjoy every aspect of life that’s denied to them.

Jun Do as Commander Ga was my favorite character. I loved the idea that he’d taken over someone else’s life and was hardly questioned. That he could win that life in a prison fight is so contrary to the confines of North Korean oppression that it made me cheer for someone who was a murderer. I’m not sure if this makes sense, but I was glad he killed Ga. I didn’t like Sun Moon’s character very much because she was so moody and whiny. I wanted Jun Do’s accomplishments to be more celebrated and respected and Sun Moon seemed very bitter toward someone who’d eliminated her despised husband.

Adam Johnson Image via the Stanford News website

Adam Johnson
Image via the Stanford News website

I loved Commander Ga’s desire to see his family to safety. His compassion was commendable. He fell in love with Sun Moon long before meeting her but still wanted to keep her and the children safe. He had compassion for the rowing American as well and did everything he could to keep her out of harm’s way. I could relate to his desire to see his family safely to America while sacrificing his own life. He was a great hero.

The ending was my favorite: when Ga sneaks Sun Moon and the children aboard the American plane. I loved the sacrifice involved and the entire set-up the Dear Leader had to convince the Americans that North Korea was functioning better than their own country. The idea of giving Americans aid for their hungry was funny because it was juxtaposed with the hunger Ga’s family endured despite being upper class. The Americans were nodding along, trying to get out of Pyongyang as quickly as possible and the whole situation was comical to me. It was a great way to end the book.

I found the beginning of the book harder to get through. Jun Do’s time as a spy got repetitive for me. Toward the end, I understood how important it was because so many of the things Johnson revealed about Jun Do in those parts played a roll  in the ending, but I think it could have been shortened. It made me reconsider reading the book early on.

I saw two major themes in this book. The first is sacrifice. Even though Jun Do has finally realized his dreams, he has to sacrifice that life for Sun Moon. I think it’s a beautiful message and I love his devotion to her. The second theme I see is that everyone can change their life even in the dimmest circumstances. In a country where it’s almost impossible to move above his station in life, Jun Do excelled through his intelligence, physical prowess, and loyalties. I’ll say it again, he makes a wonderful hero.

Writer’s Takeaway: Johnson used a lot of writing styles in this one book. I think it was a risk, but it really worked out. A lot of writers will use a variety of styles in a book. In Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell used chapters from Cath’s fanfics between her prose. Johnson’s short chapters of radio announcements reminded me of this. I think this style can be really effective as long as there is balance. Johnson focused his novel on the story and less on the retelling of it. Rowell did the same. I think this style takes some practice, but can add a lot to a story.

I thought the book was a bit wordy for it’s message, but it was beautifully written. Three out of five stars.

This book fulfills Foreign Country: North Korea for my Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
The Orphan Master’s Son ~ Adam Johnson | Thinking in Fragments
Adam Johnson: The Orphan Master’s Son (2012) | Books, Bikes, and Food
Adam Johnson, The orphan master’s son (Review) | Whispering Gums
Book Review: The Orphan Master’s Son (Adam Johnson) | the elephant on the roof

WWW Wednesday, 2-July-2014

2 Jul

A bit of progress for MizB’s WWW. Enough that it’s respectable.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  I’m at the final stopping point of The Maze Runner by James Dashner and I plan on plowing through it come July 5th. I’m so excited to finish this one. On audiobook I’m half way through Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and I’m hoping to make more progress soon. I’ve been driving a lot this week (vacation!) and getting through it well. I picked the final ARC off my shelf, The Coward by Kyle R Bullock. I just finished Part I but I’ve slowed down a bit to finish ‘Orphan Master.’

Recently finished: I soared through A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. I can’t put my finger on what was so awesome about it, but I really really loved this book. I’m excited to discuss it with my book club in August. Last night I finished off The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. This had a solid ending, I really enjoyed it.

Reading Next:  There are a few. My book club is reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe which I have on hold for audio. Hopefully I can start that soon. I put Looking for Alaska by John Green on hold for my carpool buddy and I to listen to so that should be started soon. And I want to start The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen soon. This will fulfill the 1500s time period of my When Are You Reading? Challenge. I’ve also put the eBook for The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien on hold to fulfill the 1950-1969 time period.

I hope to finish at least one for next week but I’ll be out-of-town for the 4th. My cousin is getting married! What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 25-June-2014

25 Jun

As expected, not much to report for MizB’s WWW though I’ve been progressing nicely!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’ve slowed down just a bit onThe Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. It’s good, but not so gripping that I can’t put it down.. I’m at the final stopping point of The Maze Runner by James Dashner and I’ll remain there until after the 4th of July holiday so don’t expect any movement there. And please be a dear (unlike Nicole) and don’t tell me who dies at the end. On audiobook I started Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser but I’m still on the first disk. I guess I haven’t driven anywhere alone in a while. My carpool buddy and I are almost done with Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Final disk! I’m getting close to finishing A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. It’s very unlike his other book that I’ve read but I’m really enjoying it so far!

Recently finished: Nothing finished. This gives me a sad face because I’ve made so much progress with all of my books! I did review Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan which you can enjoy.

Reading Next:  I have  The Coward by Kyle R Bullock next on my shelf. After that I’m going to seriously attack my When Are You Reading? Challenge and try to knock out the remaining time periods as fast as I can! I’m starting to get nervous on this one.

I should have some progress to report next week! Possibly two books. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 18-June-2014

18 Jun

Thanks to MizB’s WWW, I’ve been motivated to power through some books!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m slowly continuing The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Still not sure if I’ll finish it before it’s due, but I’m at 70% now and making decent progress forward. I finished the next section of The Maze Runner by James Dashner so no new progress there. On audiobook I started Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I’ve been told it will make me never eat fast food again. Yay? My carpool buddy is back so we’re still working on  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I started a new book last night; A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. I enjoyed the other Eggers book I read and this one sounds really interesting. It’s for my book club that doesn’t meet again until August so I’ll have some time to take it leisurely.

Recently finished: Two! I finished two! The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian was an audiobook and I really enjoyed it. I met Bohjalian a few weeks ago and found him inspiring. I’m glad I got to read this gem so soon. I also just finished O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn which was an ARC I won on First Reads. I wasn’t a huge fan, to be honest, but enjoyed the setting. I’ll work on a review in the next week or so. Also, I posted a review for The Language of Flowers which I’m sure will have a Book Club Reflection coming soon!

Reading Next:  I have one more ARC on my shelf to clear off which is The Coward by Kyle R Bullock. Kyle contacted me on my Facebook Fan Page and I’m so honored that he was the first to do so! I’ll be glad to get his book read this summer.

I’m hoping there will be some progress next week, too! What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 11-June-2014

11 Jun

One down! But know I’m working on each of the other books; just not enough to finish any of them. I wish there was more to report for MizB’s WWW .

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson came in and I’ve been able to make more progress on it. I don’t think I’ll finish it again before it’s due, but I’ve made a lot of progress. I finished the next section of The Maze Runner by James Dashner and I’m not sure how I picked such a cliffhanger of a stopping point but DANG. I can’t wait to keep going.  On audiobook I’m listening to The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. My carpool buddy is on vacation so I’m plowing through this on my commute. I think I’m a little over half way and I’m loving it. Since carpool buddy is on vacation,  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is on hold this week. My physical book at the moment is an ARC; O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn. I’m only reading it at lunch so I’m making slow progress but I’ll take it on vacation this weekend and see what I can do. Yes, that’s right, I’m going on vacation! We’re taking the bus so I’ll have plenty of time to read.

Recently finished: With the push of having to make this update, I stayed up and finished reading my NaNo last night! Woooo. Nothing to add to my Goodreads challenge, but hey! I did review The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker but that’s all.

Reading Next:  As my book club doesn’t meet until August, I might have time for something in between. I want to concentrate on finishing O, Africa! next, but there could be one more ARC in line. On audio, I have Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser on reserve at the library. Stay tuned!

Let’s see if I can finish my audiobook by next week. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 4-June-2014

4 Jun

SO MUCH PROGRESS!!! It feels good to participate in MizB’s WWW and be able to brag about it.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m making more steady progress on my NaNo. I’m about 3/4 of the way done with it and I’ve realized there’s a lot of filler I need to cut out. It will be an interesting revision process. I’m still on hold for The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson but I am next on the list. I’ll start on The Maze Runner by James Dashner again this weekend. I bet I’m done with the next section by the time I report back.. On audiobook I’m listening to The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. It was the first book on my long list that the library had in non-CD-but-still-audio form. Go figure. My carpool buddy and I are still working on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I’m not sure how I feel about it still and we go long times without listening to it so I’m not sure how long this will take! My physical book at the moment is an ARC; O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn. I’m still trying to figure out the voice of the narrator and it’s making it hard for me to get into, but I’m excited about something rooted in the 1920s!

Recently finished: Two! I finished two books! The first is The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This is for my informal work book club and I was the first to read it so I could pass it on. We’ll meet to discuss when the third woman has finished it. I also finished  Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan on audio. This was for one of my book clubs as well and I liked it a lot. The writing was a good mix of scientific fact and memoir. Look for reviews soon.

I’ve posted a review for I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak yesterday. Enjoy!

Reading Next:  It’s going to be A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers for my ‘edgy’ book club. This book sounds really cool so I’m excited to get started on it!

My goal is to finish reading my NaNo in the next week. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 28-May-2014

28 May

So there’s progress to report for MizB’s WWW but no finished books. I guess you win some and you lose some, eh?

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’ve made slow progress on my NaNo novel. I try to read it when I’m not really tired and can devote my whole brain to critiquing it, so I guess I’m saying I haven’t been reading it a lot. Still working on it. My other physical book is The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This is my work-book club book and I’ve got to read it first so I can pass it on to the next person.

I’m still on hold for The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Update pending. I finished the third part of The Maze Runner by James Dashner. This book is getting hard to put down which makes it difficult to stick with the Read Along timing. I’m doing my darndest! On audiobook I’m listening to Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. I’m really enjoying it so far! The narrator is good and the story is really moving. It’s a great mix of medical study and human interest story. My carpool buddy and I are still working on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It’s a bit slow going because we don’t carpool every day and I had a call-in meeting last week, but we’ll get there.

Recently finished: Nothing finished, but my review for The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa went up last week. Enjoy!

Reading Next:  I’m really hesitant to say anything right now. I’m in the middle of so many that I’m not ready to look forward to another just yet. It might be a book club selection, but I’m hoping it’s an ARC!

Hopefully I can get one or two of these finished in the next week! What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 21-May-2014

21 May

I’m so glad to have progress to report for MizB’s WWW after having so little last week. I think this spurred me into action.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m finally reading my own book! It’s the really really rough draft of the book I wrote for NaNoWriMo. It’s in rough shape, believe me. Hopefully I can gain some semblance of a structure and consistent characters when I do a re-write.

I’m on hold with The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. Someone put a hold on it and I didn’t know, so I have to wait three weeks to start back on it. Those bastards. I finished the second part of The Maze Runner by James Dashner. My first Read-Along post went up on Thursday last week. If you’re interested in joining, let me know soon before we get too far along! We’re just starting chapters 10-19 and will be done with them by 26-May. On audiobook I’m listening to Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. It’s a true story about a reporter who was almost institutionalized while suffering from a rare disease. This is my book club selection for June. In a lovely turn of events, my carpool buddy agreed to try some audiobooks! After day one, she’s fallen asleep and I’m pleased. We settled on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley which she’s read and enjoyed and I’ll be reading for the first time.

Recently finished: Two books finished!  The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker is an ARC I’ve been wanting to read for months. I’m glad I finally did. The memoir focuses on Walker’s mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s; a similar battle to the one my protagonist faces in my NaNo. I also finished I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak on audio. The narrator was great, but I’m confused about the ending. I’m not sure I really understood it.

Reading Next:  I’m going to take a jump on these ARCs. Next up is O, Africa by Andrew Lewis Conn. It’s set in the 1920s, so you can judge my excitement from that.

I’m feeling better about books moving forward. I see a bright light full of words and libraries. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 7-May-2014

14 May

As anticipated, my carpool has slowed down my audio book consumption. It’s still at an okay pace, but nothing like it was before. I’m sad to say that my edition of MizB’s WWW will, for the first time, report little progress!www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: I’m trucking through The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker. I should be able to finish this before next week! It’s a bit slow right now. A little too much memory and not enough action. The flashbacks are long and seem disjointed. On my phone I’m reading The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. It’s still a slow drive, but I’ve been reading in very small pieces. I’m on m second part of The Maze Runner by James Dashner. My first Read-Along post will be up tomorrow so check back to read that. If you’re interested in joining, let me know soon before we get too far along! We’re just starting chapters 10-19 and will be done with them by 26-May. On audiobook I’m working on I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak. It’s nice that this audiobook is on my phone because I can listen to it while I do house chores.

Recently finished: Nothing new to report! I posted a review of The City & The City by China Mieville, but I finished it a few weeks ago. Hopefully there’s more progress next week.

Reading Next:  Still planning on reading my NaNo. I’ll get a new book club selection on Monday but I hope that doesn’t slow me down! There’s a Poets & Writers on my nightstand I need to read, too!

Expect slower progress from me in the future, unfortunately. I’m trying to figure out a way to balance this carpool and my book obsession. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!