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Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors
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Beside a Burning Sea (2008)

by John Shors

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Anyone who believes that men can't write romance really need to reads John Shors! The relationship between Akira and Annie is simply perfection, romance-wise, for me. They balance each other out, complete each other. They're gentle and sweet with each other and just beautiful in their expression of their love. The obligatory sex scene was even beautiful and sweet rather than out-right passionate. Then there's the added bonus of it being a forbidden love scenario (my favorite kind!) and you've got a fantastic novel, romance-wise.

The writer also never leaves his readers unbalanced when it comes to story-flow. The narrative is equally balanced with fast-paced action and relaxing downtime on a paradise island. There never was a spot where I had to slog through pages and pages of descriptive dialogue with no redeeming factor to save it. Nor was there so much happening action wise that my head was left spinning. Very nicely balanced.

There are a few instances of stereotypical characterization, too little characterization on secondary characters, and a antagonist that I felt was revealed far too soon. I also had to raise my eyebrow at who some of the survivors were (thinking husband and wife here). Seemed a bit too lucky for me... But at the end of the day, these minor irritants were enough for me to mark this book down further than one star off.

This book was a lovely novel of romance and survival in the South Pacific. I enjoyed the story and the relationship between Akira and Annie. A few things made me grit my teeth a bit, but really, not that big of a deal. I would definitely recommend this novel if you're looking for a good WWII story set in the Pacific. ( )
  Sarah_Gruwell | Jan 12, 2016 |
This was my first john Shors book and I found it quite good. I was a little predictable, but the story was well written and enjoyable. ( )
  zmagic69 | Jun 4, 2013 |
Absolutely loved this book! I really like Shors' writing. Am anxious to read Beneath a Marble Sky. ( )
  GrannyNanny | Mar 20, 2012 |
Another beautifully written book by John Shors about redemption, realization and unlikely love. Set on an Island in the Pacific, survivors of a torpedoed ship must band together to survive against the one who betrayed them. ( )
  winecat | Mar 11, 2011 |
If I were to describe the perfect story for me, [Beside A Burning Sea] by John Shors would be a very close fit. Set in 1942 the hospital ship Benevolence is torpedoed and nine survivors make their way to a deserted South Pacific island.

A story of survival and redemption. These people struggle against the elements, their fear of discovery by the Japanese and even against each other. Unbeknownst to them, one of them is a traitor, he betrayed their ship and now is about to reveal their location to the Japanese. More than this, he is a true psychopath eagerly anticipating the damage he will do, the terror he will inflict. The survivors are a mixed crowd, three nurses, the ship’s captain, two naval officers, an ship’s mechanic, a young stowaway and a Japanese prisoner of war. Many of these people have conflicts within themselves and how they bond together and help each other survive makes for a wonderful story.

Each chapter is the equivalent of a day and as we are drawn deeper into the story the suspense rises. I literally couldn’t put the book down, I had to know how it would end. Not a perfect book but I found myself willing to overlook some minor flaws and simply savour the story. This was so much more than a simple action story, the characters are well developed, the writing extremely lyrical and the story telling rich and varied. Like the haiku that start each chapter, this book is a small gem. ( )
9 vote DeltaQueen50 | Mar 5, 2011 |
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Epigraph
Through the misery of war, love is loss and love is found. Like all things of green and flesh, Love dies when republics collide. Yet amid the wreckage of minds and memories, Love can quickly emerge, As if a fresh rain that tries to wipe clean a field of battle. - Anonymous
Dedication
For my family - Allison, thank you for the gift of always believing. I love you. Sophie and Jack, nothing else compares.
First words
Ten minutes before a torpedo sliced through the sea and slammed into steel, most everything was normal aboard the U.S. hospital ship, Benevolence.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451224922, Paperback)

From the author of Beneath a Marble Sky comes an inspiring new novel of a man and a woman from different worlds whose love is put to the ultimate test as they struggle to survive an extraordinary set of circumstances.

View our feature on John Shors' Beside a Burning Sea.

One moment, the World War II hospital ship Benevolence is patrolling the South Pacific on a mission of mercy—to save wounded American soldiers. The next, Benevolence is split in two by a torpedo, killing almost everyone on board. A small band of survivors, including an injured Japanese soldier and a young American nurse whom he saves from drowning, makes it to the deserted shore of a nearby island.

Akira has suffered five years of bloodshed and horror fighting for the Japanese empire. Now, surrounded by enemies he is supposed to hate, he instead finds solace in their company—and rediscovers his love of poetry. While sharing the mystery and beauty of this passion with Annie, the captivating but tormented woman he rescued, Akira grapples with the pain of his past while helping Annie uncover the promise of her future. Meanwhile, the remaining castaways endure a world not of their making—a world as barbaric as it is beautiful, as hateful as it is loving.

With the blend of epic storytelling and emotional intensity that distinguishes him as a unique talent, John Shors reveals a powerful story of redemption focusing on unlikely lovers, heroes and villains, and war-torn countries—all, in their own ways, fighting to survive.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:50 -0400)

One moment, the World War II hospital ship Benevolence was cruising through the Pacific. In the next, she was engulfed in chaos, split in two by a torpedo. A small group of survivors makes it to the deserted shore of a nearby island, including a wounded Japanese soldier who saved a young nurse from death. Akira has spent five years engulfed in blood and horror. Now, surrounded by those he is supposed to hate, he instead finds solace in their company. Sharing the mystery and beauty of his favorite poems with the beautiful American woman he has rescued, he watches as the others confront their own passions and demons. Meanwhile, a secret held by one of the castaways may determine whether any of them will ever see their homelands again.… (more)

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