O! what Man will do fore a Rime!

Self-proclaimed bibliophile, culture nut and nerdfighter. English lit. and linguistics geek. Future career in publishing.

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

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

Note: This review was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


I'm not docking bits of star off because I don't find this story interesting or incredible or amazing, because I do and I think it is. To be born in a political labour camp and to escape to freedom and regular human beings? That's amazing. I don't think I could ever have the guts to do it.

And I think this is a very important piece of work. It's a reminder that the Kim regime actually willingly destroys its population with famine, labour camps and a military state; they're not just there for us to make fun of -- they actually ruin ordinary people's lives with crimes against humanity and terror. This is nothing to make light of.

What is influencing my decision to strip stars off this book is, when it comes down to it, the writing. Harden may be a great journalist (I don't know, I don't have personal experience with his journalism), but he's not that good with a book. The story is phenomenal, but Harden's technical abilities with prose don't humanize the story in a way that Demick's Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea does. In the hands of a skilled story-teller, this book could have been better told.

A nitpicky thing is the subtitle: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West. Specifically Freedom in the West. That is both false advertising (that's not what happens in Shin's story, unless by "West" Harden means geographically west -- China, which does not exactly qualify as "freedom" for North Koreans) and pandering to a political audience (Doesn't it just make you feel good inside knowing that us Westerners are better than the North Koreans? Yay!). It could have just been left as One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom. Boom! Story outlined and no overly obvious political leanings.

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey #1) - Arthur C. Clarke


Note: This review was taken directly from my Goodreads account.



I know I shouldn't compare 2001: A Space Odyssey to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but since I recently read both, I can't help it. I'm sorry, but 2001 was just so much better. Especially in terms of story-telling and prose.

Fans of the film (like myself) may be surprised how true to the book the movie is (the end note to this edition is about how Clarke wrote the book concurrently with the movie, which I didn't know but the Wikipedia article states). The book, while expertly descriptive and wonderfully written, doesn't have the same impact on the senses as the visuals in Kubrick's film. Because, let's be honest, that movie is visually stunning, especially during the Jupiter Mission part.

If you like the movie, you'll like this. But if you like the movie for superficial reasons like pretty cinematography, you will like this but not as much. Clarke has fantastic descriptions, but they really don't hold up to Kubrick's cinematography.

Still not down with the space fetus though.

(show spoiler)

I'm interested to see where the rest of the series will go, so I'll be reading the next three books.


Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick, Robert Zelazny

Note: This review was taken from my Goodreads account.


Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is about a bounty hunter who "retires" humanoid machines (androids or "andys") and he has to take a case in which he must retire six andys with advanced model brains (Nexus-6), which ultimately make them harder to catch.

First, a warning: Thar be spoilers below. These spoilers are for both the novel and its film adaptation Blade Runner.

I think that Blade Runner is better than this book (even with its terrible '80s music. I mean, who really needs that much synth?). And here's why:

1) There's more action in Blade Runner.

In the book, the action does not feel like action. There's no tension and it's so horribly dull. When there's some shooting going on, it goes like this:

He ran at me. I shot him with my laser tube. The laser hit him in the head and wrecked his face. He didn't move.

Well, just wow. That's about as exciting as painting my nails. Same amount of tension, too.

There's also parts where Deckard just flat-out says, "You're an android" and there are no dangerous repercussions. I mean, what? We know these androids have killed so that they can escape and other people have been sent to hospital with injuries, and yet Deckard doesn't seem to think that telling them that he knows they're not human won't land him in hot water.

2) The romance with Rachael Rosen.

The movie is, I admit, not great on the romance either. Physically restraining her and then she's turned on? Shame on you, Ridley Scott. But, the romance in the book isn't better. We don't see how Deckard's relationship with Rachael escalates to the point of love--in fact, it doesn't really at all. He doesn't think about her much aside from the times when he interacts with her, and then suddenly they're in a hotel room and he's like, "I'm in love with you" and she's like, "Don't retire those andys" and he's like, "I have to" and she's like, "I don't love you, I only slept with you because usually when I sleep with bounty hunters (count: 9) they can't go on to retire their next targets." Hot damn.

Then later we keep hearing that one of the androids is the same make and model as Rachael Rosen, so it will look like her and that means Deckard won't be able to retire her since he's too into Rachael and it'll be too hard for him. Didn't really turn out that way since he zapped her so fast with his laser tube that it seemed like he wasn't torn up about it at all.

3) Are androids "alive"?

I personally think that the movie deals with this better. While in the book Deckard does think about empathy and androids and whether we should regard them as beings, he doesn't do it that much. And when he does, it doesn't seem all that revelatory or important. Most of the time, he doesn't seem that interested. I think that's a fault in Dick's writing, though. There are a couple moments in the book where the androids clearly show their lack of empathy and especially understanding of the humans around them, but overall Dick's agenda is fairly obvious: even if it's mechanical, it can be alive. We see this with the electric animals throughout the novel, as well. I think that Dick just doesn't handle the subject matter as well as the movie does.

Plus sides to the novel are that Dick throws us into his world from page one. It's alien and interesting and I want to know more about this post-apocalyptic Earth where the people with the right IQ can emigrate to Mars and other off-world colonies. We've got mood organs for you to change how you feel, hovercars which just straight-up fly, and humans obsessed with real animals (Deckard has an electric sheep, which I found annoying because it relates to the title in a concrete way--blegh).

Also, the idea that sentient things are still alive, even if they don't grow or their cells don't regenerate or that they lack fundamental human qualities like love or empathy.

Another plus is the title of the novel. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is one of the best titles ever.

Grand Unification and the New Look of the Atom by L. N. Smith

Grand Unification and the New Look of the Atom - L.N. Smith

Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.



I received a free copy of this book in PDF format from the author. I wasn't explicitly told to give a review in return, but I'm doing it anyway because I figure it's the nice/polite thing to do.

Grand Unification and the New Look of the Atom is actually two short stories that seek to explain concepts of physics ("Grand Unification": E-comets and the universe; "The New Look of the Atom": How atoms are structured).

I had a little trouble actually understanding if this was supposed to be tales describing some process of physics, or if these physics processes were incorporated into science fiction. So that explains something if my shelves are all messed up for this.

I really liked "Grand Unification" and I think Smith did a great job describing the complexity of the universe. I also like the way he sets up and tells this story: through a planetarium scientist, one who is more like a regular non-scientist (in that he's not so great at formal sciences or even physics itself), to us as we go through an exhibit in the planetarium meant to explain the Big Bang and other questions about the creation of the universe. Instead, we get Norbert explaining e-comets, or how the universe is made up of little non-existent pockets (or something; I'm not as great at explaining it, to be honest).

I will admit that the entire "your scientists" bit was a little irritating. Is Norbert an alien? Why is he referring to the scientists of the world as only ours and not his? He also came across as a little condescending at times.

As for "The New Look of the Atom," I found it to be a tad overcomplicated for something I find to be so simple (the structure of an atom). The metaphor was too complicated to fully get the picture until the very end and so I thought it ended up being a wasted learning opportunity. I didn't really enjoy that part.

Overall, I think this book is a short, quick and easy to understand explanation about certain aspects of physics, but if you're more used to scientific articles and in-depth, non-metaphorical, non-fable-styled looks at science, then this book may be too -- I don't want to say juvenile, but that's all I can think of -- for you. I can definitely see people reading it to their kids (not toddlers, of course!) in the hopes of promoting a love for science.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

White Teeth - Zadie Smith

Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


I think this is my favourite Zadie Smith novel. She has a wonderful way with words and I love the themes she's always tackling. In this one, she looks at immigrants: the difficulties being a PoC in a white-dominated society, especially one that colonized the countries of these PoC; the discrepancies between first-generation and second-generation immigrants; the pressures that come with being a part of immigrant families, like expectations and the visions that your parents have of you. Aside from that, Smith also looks at teenage life versus middle-age life, the histories that tie us down and our inability to really shake off our roots. And through all of this, Smith is able to keep her trademark wit and humour.


American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods - Neil Gaiman

Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


Warning: There are probably minor spoilers below.



American Gods is about a man, released early from prison due to a tragic accident, who travels across America for work with a strange man. It's about what happens to the gods from the old country when people immigrate to America. It's about what happens when people begin to worship new things and forget what they used to sacrifice to.

I think American Gods is written really well. I liked the story and I liked the characters. I liked that we got gods from multiple corners of the earth: Norse, Hindu, Egyptian, Russian, Native American, Biblical figures and (small appearances of) Chinese and Japanese. Some of the gods I didn't figure out who they were because I didn't really have a drive to Google their description and I am woefully uninformed about a lot of pagan gods.

I like that there is a mystery rooted in the story and I liked that there was a bit of romance too. I liked that tourist attractions were considered holy places and abandoned places were unsettling to the gods. I liked the idea of new, young gods challenging older ones. I liked that there was a twist and I didn't expect it. I liked the ambiguous ending and the resolution of the romance. I liked the supporting characters, especially Samantha Black Crow and her sister Marguerite Olsen.

I just didn't like that the buildup left me with a bit of an anticlimactic end. And that's why I knocked half a star off.


Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea - Barbara Demick

Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.



Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea is a mix of tales about life in North Korea relayed by six North Korean defectors currently living in South Korea as told by a journalist, Demick.

This book isn't the first time I've encountered glimpses into North Korean life (I've seen the Vice documentary), but it is the first time that I've fully understood the restrictiveness and oppressiveness of the regime. It's also the first time that I got any background knowledge of North Korea before its economic collapse. I've previously studied Asian history, but only in the specific niche of Asian-Canadian history, so it was a huge shock to me when Demick wrote about North Korea being more economically sufficient than South Korea during the 1960s. They had modern(ish) homes, they had electricity and worked in factories. TVs and radios existed (albeit only tuned into Workers' Party and the regime's programming). It's such a stark contrast when we look at satellite photos of North Korea now where it looks like a wasteland, a dark zone, like it's stuck so far in the past.

I found that the most impressive part of these stories (which are woven together expertly by Demick to make a narrative that is both biography and history, and all together humanizing) was that everyone managed to survive and believe the propaganda that was fed to them. Of course, the six people that this book follows become increasingly disillusioned with the regime and the famine, among many other things, drives them to defect.

A very good and well-researched book into what life in North Korea is like: over-run with famine, a terrible class system they claim to reject in favour of communism, God-like reverence for Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, and people forced to go to jobs that haven't paid them since the economic collapse. A terrible, haunting portrait, but with a bittersweet end; these people made it to South Korea and enjoy a freer, happier (but not completely happy -- not when half of the family is on the other side of the DMZ or lost to labour camps) life. This is not the book to delve into the Kim regime itself: how it got into power, its economic and social policies, etc., but it does a good job of creating a tangible, believable reason for the mythology surrounding the family.


American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis

Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


Warning: Spoilers be down below!



I feel like I should do a PSA for this book before my review, so here it goes:

Warning: This book contains graphic sex and violence. If you have a queasy stomach or don't like non-missionary sex, then this book may not be for you.

There are a lot of things I really enjoyed about this book, and none of them are the gruesome bits, which I'll admit is a bit surprising. The real reason I found this book so enjoyable was Patrick Bateman as a character. He's just so fascinating.

(1) The Nail that Sticks Out

Fitting in is a big part of American Psycho. Bateman is constantly stressing out about what people think of him and he wants to be accepted into his group of fellow yuppies. But at the same time, he doesn't want to be just another dude in a well-tailored suit; that's why he is constantly letting slip to his coworkers and friends about his murderous feelings. Of course, none of them seem to actually hear what he's saying. At one point, a character hears "murders and executions" as "mergers and acquisitions".

Bateman blends in so well with his fellow yuppies that multiple people throughout the novel mistake him for a multitude of different people. One person mistakes him for two different people in the same night! Bateman becomes an interchangeable face of corporate America, which also seems to drive him to commit the acts he does.

(2) Gym, Tan, Laundry

Bateman is obsessed with fashion and high brow restaurants and luxury items. He is constantly going to get a pedicure, a massage, etc. He works out at the gym for two hours every morning before work. He goes to the tanning salon regularly (and regularly gets complimented on his tan) and is jealous of a colleague who buys his own tanning bed. Every time a person is introduced into the scene, Bateman recounts their wardrobes in extreme detail. In fact, it looks like Bateman is the go-to guy for fashion advice. He freaks out multiple times about whether his hair looks good. Besides that, he is so over-invested in material items that he gets envious of another man's business card because it has, what he deems, the perfect font, colour and detail.

All of this attention Bateman pays to his appearance demonstrates his obsession with being attractive and putting on a facade (an interaction with an old friend hints that Bateman comes from a very wealthy background and doesn't actually need to work on Wall Street).

(3) Break It Down Now

Bateman goes through an interesting breakdown throughout the course of the novel. It appears at the beginning that he has his life together, aside from the casual outbursts of murderous intent, but slowly loses control of it. We see this in the way that he builds up to the first kill we see in the novel to the frenzied murder spree that occurs near the end of the novel.

This breakdown throws Bateman's reliability as a narrator into jeopardy. Does he actually tell colleagues that he wants to mutilate these people or is it all in his mind? Are the murders he commits even real? (A homeless man and his dog, both whom we are meant to believe Bateman severely mutilated, make a re-occurrence, but the second time the man says he is a blinded Vietnam veteran--is the truth that Bateman blinded him with a knife or that something happened during the Vietnam War that resulted in the loss of his eyesight?) Everything falls under scrutiny and speculation.

(4) Misogyny at Its Finest

I don't think Ellis himself is a misogynist, but Bateman sure as hell is. He hates women with a vengeance and only seeks to use them for their bodies: sexually or for murder. His favourite scene in a movie is when a woman gets drilled to death, and he jerks off to it. He skull-fucks dead girls, hates his girlfriend and treats women he has affairs with like shit. Women do not fair well when looked upon by Patrick Bateman.

Not only that, but he's a racist and a bigoted homophobe, too. Also, an animal abuser.

(5) A Sociological Approach

This book is full of satire and it shows. Bateman mocks people for not wearing haute couture, designer clothing, but the thing is that no one cares except his yuppie friends and himself. He can't get a table at the hottest restaurant in town, but his stoner brother can. No one is impressed by his platinum American Express card because everyone else has one. His girlfriend overly worries about the salad that she didn't even make at her Christmas party; it was catered. His colleagues call him up to ask what the proper etiquette is for wearing a cummerbund. There's no way Ellis isn't mocking people with this attitude. No wonder Ellis makes Bateman a psychopath; it's hard to stay sane with the people who surround Bateman.

I don't have much else to say about the book because I can't really remember what I fully wanted to say (I admit that I'm watching Hell's Kitchen as I do this, so my attention is kind of divided). It's a very good book and I enjoy Ellis's style, but it can be off-putting. I definitely think it's worth the read though if you can stomach it.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


I was doing a Kubrick marathon (well, just Full Metal Jacket (the best), The Shining and A Clockwork Orange) the other day, and I realized that although I'd seen A Clockwork Orange a few times now, I'd never read it.

So I did.

I really enjoyed the different ending. It makes it a great tale about growing up and the recklessness of youth, rather than psychopathic teenagers. But both endings work equally well.

The best part of the book is its language. Burgess is amazing at incorporating the new slang he's created (nadsat) and, once you're about 5-10 pages in, you pick it up pretty easily. The only real beef I have with the language is that there is no explanation in the world-building as to why Slavic-based slang is being used. Did the Soviets win the Cold War? I don't get that part. Still, it feels very true to a teenager from Alex's background, even if the slang is a little heavy most of the time.


Various Positions by Martha Schabas

Various Positions - Martha Schabas

Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


First, I want to say that Georgia is probably one of the stupidest protagonist I've ever read. She is thicker than bricks and denser than the water pressure in the Mariana Trench. Besides being completely air-headed, I'm so displeased with how she acts and reacts. While I don't doubt that her emotions do seem kind of realistic given someone just coming into puberty and realizing that they and others are sexual beings, but come on! She purposefully reads more into Roderick's actions than there ever is, and she forces an unhealthy lifestyle onto a nice girl. And does she ever learn her lesson or get an appropriate punishment? No, she gets off scot-free. Georgia doesn't have to take responsibility for anything. Not only that, but she doesn't even learn that ballet and its pressures are damaging her mental health. I also don't like her slut-shaming/sex-shaming or her refusal to call her friend Laura by her real name--she only calls her Sixty and it wasn't like it was the name Laura said she could use. Laura is more than a number from the audition.

Second, I don't like the parallels that were made between the romantic/sexual relationship of a professor and PhD student and that of a high school teacher and his 14-year-old student. Those are not the same and Georgia is stupid for even remotely thinking they are.

Third, I don't like that Georgia is portrayed as a life-ruiner (which, she kind of was because her actions were a result of her stupidity), but it gives women more flack than they need and paints them as slutty seductresses. Women were also shown as overly emotional creatures--prone to emotional fits and psychosis. I don't like that men are seen as hypersexual perverts through Georgia's eyes, because 1) that's so one-dimensional and incorrect, and 2) at 14, Georgia shouldn't be this stupid about men, realistically.

Fourth, I don't like the way this book deals with eating disorders and body image. I get that it's about ballet and one must be thin and fit to be a ballerina, but the message overall was: Don't be fat; being even a little bit heavier than others (even if that heaviness is still considered thin by normal standards) means you are disgusting and should be bullied. Being thin means you are not bullied.

I do admit that I liked the confusion Georgia had and struggled with in regards to the antithesis of striving for sexlessness and growing into her own sexuality. The writing, while not very good at the beginning, did develop nicely and became okay at the end.

Finally, I want to say that if you want to really look at the pressures placed upon ballerinas, just watch Black Swan.

The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis

The Rules of Attraction - Bret Easton Ellis

Note: The review below was taken from my Goodreads account.



"No one ever likes the right person," I say.
"That's not true," he says. "I like you."
That's not exactly what I meant or wanted to hear, but I ask him earnestly, "Do you?"
There's a pause. "Sure. Why not?" he says.

I really like Ellis's writing style. He captures the blasé attitude of a large portion of college kids perfectly. I also really like the interweaving of other characters of his, like Clay from Less Than Zero and Patrick Bateman from American Psycho; and also the small mentions of the Classics kids who are from Donna Tartt's The Secret History. The entire entry in French was awesome, as well, especially if you can read French.

The best part, though, was the fact that none of the people in the love triangle seemed to truly care about any of the others. Sean, Paul and Lauren proved that, as Lauren says, you can't really know anyone.

The Final Solution by Michael Chabon

The Final Solution - Michael Chabon, Jay Ryan

Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


The Final Solution is about an old man, once a famous detective but now resigned to old age, who decides to solve one last mystery: the case of a missing African parrot belonging to a young Jewish boy refugee from Germany during the Second World War.

If it wasn't obvious, the title alludes to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story "The Final Problem" in his Sherlock Holmes stories, and also the Third Reich's Final Solution of the Jewish question. Chabon does a great job in emulating Conan Doyle's writing style and it shares much of the same feel. The characters are given surprising depth for such a short novel, the mystery of the bird itself and the boy's backstory are intriguing, and the culprit is quite unsuspecting.

However, where Chabon falls short is the unresolved mystery of the boy and the bird. It's pretty obvious that the old man will find the bird thief, but the blurb promised me a "wrenching resolution" to the boy and the bird's story and I don't think I got that.

Or maybe I was just too tired when I finished this book last night and missed it. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Gold by Chris Cleave

Gold - Chris Cleave

Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


Gold is about two women cyclists who are training for the 2012 Olympics and who also happen to be best friends. One, Kate, has a daughter with leukemia; the other, Zoe, has intense hang-ups.

Cleave's writing has really improved and it's noticeable. His prose has better flow and he can alternate points of view without rupturing that flow. I do think he hasn't mastered character voice, as many of the characters sounded the same (except for Tom and Sophie). Overall, Cleave has vastly improved over Incendiary, and even Little Bee. I did find the pacing to be a bit slow, though -- the book builds up to the two women racing each other for a spot at the Olympics instead of the actual Games.

As for the characters, I liked them all, but they were not overly descriptive. I think the coach, Tom, was the most fleshed out; whereas, with Zoe and Kate I'm confident I can describe them in one word. It's true that they get more dynamic as the story goes along, but I just don't think their characterization was as nuanced as it could have been.

I liked the ending, which I didn't think was overly sentimental compared to Cleave's first two books. I also really liked the glimpses into the pasts of characters, Tom and Kate especially.


Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Little Bee - Chris Cleave

Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


Warning: There are minor spoilers in this review.



So, so much better than his first book. It doesn't feel as gimmicky, the writing itself is better and the story is more interesting (personally). Cleave seems to have done his research, which is nice to see. The only thing I think was detrimental was certain parts seemed to be fishing for sympathy, almost; like, certain parts were so sappy that I couldn't take it seriously. However, there were moments of great emotion where it didn't feel like Cleave was forcing me to feel sad and felt genuine (the scene at the beach near the end with Batman/Charlie and Little Bee, the deportation scene, the very final beach scene where Little Bee gives herself up for Batman/Charlie and Sarah's safety).

Things that made a reoccurrence from the first book:
- cheating spouses
- four-year-old children
- main/secondary characters who are journalists

Really liked this one so much more than Incendiary.

Incendiary by Chris Cleave

Incendiary - Chris Cleave


Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.


I wanted to like this book because it had the makings of something I would like (Britain, a terrorist attack and the aftermath as seen through the eyes of a victim), but also because my friend recommended it to me and we usually like a lot of the same things. No dice this time.

Unfortunately, Incendiary was too gimmicky, too implausible and the characters were barely sympathetic.

The book is comprised of four letters, all written to describe the four seasons, with the terrorist attack happening in Spring. The letters are written by the protagonist, a woman from London's East End who has lost her husband and son in the attack, and she is writing them to Osama bin Laden.

I can't decide what I found the most irritating. There was an extreme lack of commas which, as I understand it, is supposed to be stylistic; it was more frustrating than anything as I had to backtrack some sentences (which would have been run-ons anyway) to follow. The characters were similarly annoying -- the protagonist wasn't sympathetic, didn't really grow on you and was defined by a horrible character flaw; the secondary characters were all overwhelmingly terrible people with the exception of Terence Butcher, though he wasn't particularly likeable either. Finally, there was a bunch of capitalization when there didn't need to be any (e.g., This guy is dressed like what young adults call A HIPSTER). Stylistics again, but still not compelling.

My main issue with the protagonist is her character flaw: when she gets nervous (which she admits in the book is all the time) she fucks around. It's a stupid flaw and is only there to throw together the protagonist and the main male character and cocaine-riddled douchebag, Jasper Black. Jasper's girlfriend, Petra Sutherland, is a bit more likeable and understandable than the others, but still not sympathetic. Terence Butcher is a dickhole, but he actually seems to have issues of guilt and so becomes a bit more interesting than the others.

The part that I found gimmicky and implausible is styling the book as letters to Osama bin Laden. The letters didn't give off much depth and were told more as semi-omniscient with direct conversations repeated back. I don't think it worked well and it seemed to serve as a way to capitalize on the sentimentality of the reader. The implausibility comes from the amount of story the protagonist puts in the letters: there is no need to recount your sexual assault in the bathroom or clothes-shopping at Harvey Nichols. Why? Because Osama would not care and it isn't even important to tell him those things.

I do want to give Cleave credit for making the aftermath of the attack descriptive and grotesque, and the lead-up to the attack itself was phenomenal. He also deserves praise for the final section (Winter), which is a million times more action-packed than the rest of the book (aside from the attack itself and its aftermath), gives more growth to the characters and actually made me feel something for some of them. I just suggest he never write sex scenes again because they come across as awkward. Shudder.

Considering an E-reader

I've recently gotten accepted into a position teaching English in South Korea for a year starting next February. After being extremely excited and telling my friends and family, one of the first things to pop into my head was this: how am I going to read my books?


I have a large collection of physical books, with some that I haven't read and want to. South Korea, while I'm certain has a few English bookstores or sections in larger retailers, will still be full of Korean books. (My Hangul is great, but my actual Korean comprehension is poor. Korean books will be helpful in learning the language, but altogether won't be able to fulfill my reading needs.) I don't want to run to Seoul every time I need to make a book purchase and there is no way in hell that I'm lugging a large amount of books with me on the plane or having some mailed. I will be bringing a few physical books, like my TOEFL methodology textbook because it will be helpful and a few other mass-market paperbacks. It became pretty obvious that I needed to finally get myself an e-reader, something that I never thought I would purchase. But the next question becomes: which one?


I don't want to get an iPad because of multiple reasons, mostly the price and then the fact that it's an LCD screen and painful on the eyes for an extended period of time. So, Apple is out of the question. The main contenders are the regular Kindle, the Kindle Paperwhite (without 3G) and the Kobo Touch.


I've made a small pros and cons list, but I'd still like input about what you guys think is a good idea. I've already got one person telling me about their own e-reader choice and how it's working out for them, which is definitely making me partial to Amazon at least.




- cheaper at $79 CDN

- Amazon is the leading e-reader producer

- most of the comments and feedback have been very positive

- supports Hangul so I can read Korean books



- doesn't include wall plug-in charger, which is sold separately for $14.99 CDN

- no Adobe DRM support that I'm aware of

- no ability to expand e-library with Micro SD cards

- doesn't work with Canadian libraries


Kindle Paperwhite


- better quality screen than Kindle

- front-lit screen

- sharper contrast

- Amazon is the leading e-reader producer

- supports Hangul so I can read Korean books



- a bit more expensive at $139 CDN

- no Adobe DRM support again

- no expandability with Micro SD card

- doesn't work with Canadian libraries


Kobo Touch


- works with Canadian libraries

- can expand amount of e-books with Micro SD card

- supports Adobe DRM



- terrible customer service based on customer reviews

- screens break easily

- not very good quality based on customer reviews

- no Hangul support



Any thoughts? I would love to hear from other people who've purchased e-readers and how it's working out for them. I would also love to hear what any of you have heard about these three e-readers in particular.

Currently reading

Christopher Paolini
Progress: 346/860 pages
Le Morte d'Arthur
Thomas Malory, Elizabeth Bryan
Progress: 33/938 pages