Beside a Burning Sea
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Beside a Burning Sea

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3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  1,274 ratings  ·  296 reviews
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 m...more
Paperback, 419 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by NAL Trade
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Debbie
From Hilary Hatton at Booklist:
It’s the fall of 1942, and the U.S. hospital ship Benevolence is cruising the waters of the South Pacific when it is torpedoed by the Japanese. Only nine people survive, and they eventually wash up on an island: the captain Joshua, and his wife, Isabelle, a nurse; Isabelle’s sister Annie and a woman named Scarlet, both nurses; Ratu, a teenage Fijian stowaway; Jake, a black engineer; Nathan and Roger, two officers; and Akira, a wounded Japanese soldier.

Okay, first...more
Marie
Dec 08, 2008 Marie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in historical fiction, WWII, Japanese-American relations, Japan
Shelves: fiction, asia, japan, war
I really enjoyed this book. John Shors is the perfect writer for me, because his books (so far) are based in Asia and have strong female protagonists (which both appeal to me very much!).

I would give Beside a Burning Sea four-and-a-half stars, but that's not possible on goodreads. I didn't love it quite as much as Beneath a Marble Sky--mostly because in that book I learned so much about Indian history and the building of the Taj Mahal. But I couldn't put this book down and was desperate to disc...more
Gaile
I loved, loved, loved this book! When their hospital ship is torpedoed, nine escape including one Japanese POW and take refuge on a lovely island. Unfortunately one of the nine is a traitor who enjoys tormenting and killing. While with the group he tries to act civilized but he is soon suspected especially by the Japanese Akira. A child, Ratu is also with the group. He had stowed away in search of his father. While the traitor communicates with the Japanese bringing them to the island, the survi...more
Eileen Granfors
This book is filled with stereotypical characters making long speeches and lots of "telling" rather than "showing." I know Shors writes better than this. If you're in the mood for "Survivor" meets "Lord of the Flies" plus a love story, go for it, but I wouldn't recommend this book to those who loved "Beneath a Marbled Sky."
JQ
Dec 15, 2011 JQ rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nobody
I wish there were negative stars to rate the books, that's how much I disliked this book. Truly awful writing. I do not understand the heaps of praise given to this book on the cover, etc. Do they not use editors anymore? This book could have used one, or two. The dialogue was atrocious to the point of being (unintentionally) hilarious. I also think that an author should know the difference between "affect" and "effect"; apparently this one does not. I only finished this book because I wanted to...more
Kari Gritzan
This is such a beatifully told story. The characters are all so fully realized, I can't believe the book is not longer. You really come to care about the folks stuck on this island.

It's a great read for history buffs, but also for anyone who likes a good adventure tale. Very suspensful, but so poetically done.

I'm sorry I'm not better at writing reviews...I really enjoyed Shors' previous book about the Taj mahal, and this one confirmed that he's an author to keep reading. I can't wait for his n...more
Deborah
John Shors has done it again! His novel, Beneath a Marble Sky was a wonderful, historical read. Beneath a Burning Sea is much the same. Once I began reading, I don't want to put it down. It follows 9 people marooned on an island in the South Pacific after their ship has been bombed in World War II. The characters are well developed and the story is intriguing!
Liz
I loved Beneath a Marble Sky, so I was really looking forward to reading this and was sorely disappointed. Repetition and head-hopping jerked me out of the story at far too many points. It seems as if this is a second or third draft of what would have been an excellent tale, had it been edited properly.
Zeek
I loved Shors's debut novel Beneath a Marble Sky and though I can't say I fell for his second endeavor, Beside a Burning Sea, quite as hard, I did enjoy it.

A historical, set during the most strategic time of WW2 in the pacific theater, BABS is a gripping story of a group of mostly strangers stranded on an obscure island in the pacific after the hospital ship Benevolence is attacked and sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

In the heat of battle, two sisters stationed as nurses on the Benevolence are l...more
Tami
LOVED this book!! This is my first foray into John Shors' novels, but it definitely will not be my last!!

On the face of it, this one is a pretty predictable story of a small group of survivors from a bombed WW2 US hospital ship, who find their way to an island and await rescue by the American military, or discovery by the Japanese.

However, it's the richness with which the author draws his characters, and their relationships with one another, that ultimately makes this novel a real shining star!...more
Louise
The novel opens in September of 1942 in the Solomon Islands where the ship Benevolence, a U.S. hospital ship of five-stories high is cruising through the South Pacific at a speed of twelve knots per hour.

The ship held five-hundred beds which were full of soldiers who suffered injuries and psychiatric disorders. There were several dozen navy doctors’ and nurses’ caring for them. The smell was unbearable from the unclean bodies, disinfectants, bleach and burnt flesh. In total, there were five-hund...more
Claire
Beside a Burning Sea chronicles the fate of nine survivors of the sunken World War II hospital ship Benevolence. The survivors wash up on one of the deserted Soloman Islands and each chapter represents one of the eighteen days on the island.

The novel opens aboard the ship, where nurses and sisters Isabelle and Annie are dressing the wounds of Japanese soldier Akira. They are discussing Isabelles husband Joshua, the ships captain, when the explosion occurs. Unbeknownst to the nurses, Akira can s...more
Nenette
This is the second book of John Shors that I've read. If there is one thing that I can say about them, it is that they were written with the intention to show that goodness abounds.

Beside the Burning Sea tells of the struggles of survivors from a fallen hospital ship during World War II. Nothing fanciful, nothing extreme, but endearing, and heartwarming, and emotional, and suspenseful all the same. It's a fictional account of people during a very important historic event, and so the familiarity,...more
LCW
In this WWII melodrama the eight survivors of the sinking of a hospital ship find themselves stranded on a nearby tropical island in the middle of the pacific ocean. This ships sinking is due to sabotage by an American Lieutenant in league with the Japanese who masquerades as a survivor along side them.

There is a love story that develops between two of the survivors, a Japanese prisoner and nurse. Akira teaches Annie about the art of haiku poetry while she nurses him back to health. There is ver...more
Neselle
I borrowed this book from the library on a whim, and I'm so happy I did. John Shors is my new favorite author after reading this novel. I'm not a fan of historical fiction, or any novel that has to deal with history for that matter, but there is something about this novel that pushed that aspect aside. Perhaps it's the fictitious drama that compliments the historical significance. Whatever it may be, Shors did an excellent job in plotting the scenes. At the conclusion of each chapter, I was neve...more
MaryPat
While I liked this book very much, I am glad I did not read it right after reading Beneath a Marble Sky. This is a very good read. I like stories centered around WWII but this story didn't feel like a war story. I also liked the South Pacific setting bc so many stories about the war are set in Europe. Most people don't even realize or they forget that a war was going on in Asia. Shors has a great talent for being a gifted storyteller. He is able to describe places so beautifully you really can s...more
Pamela Pickering
Incredibly average. For me no surprises or anything to make me really think. The dialogue did not seem realistic and apparently the author has never watched an episode of Survivor since his castaways were faring extremely well. Not bad enough to give it one star though, I made it through 260 pages or so before I just lost interest and skipped ahead to read the last 15 pages or so (something I NEVER do anymore).
Tonya
Outstanding! This book isn't my normal kind of read. However, it sounded intriguing so I thought what the heck. It got my attention in the first 5 pages and didn't let go. 9 people are stranded on an island after a bombing of their ship. Of course there are such different ranges of characters. Such description I felt I was there with them. Pick up this book today, you won't be sorry!
Susie
I really liked this book. I enjoyed the charactors. The villian was villiany in all the right spots and the lovers were lovey in all the right spots (if not a little too sugary sweet). This story of the castaways in WWII was a good easy read. I do have to say that this authors first book, Beneath a Marble Sky, captivated me more though.
Cinnamon Dickens
There are some beautiful sentences in this book. Several that I read over more than once. I was friends with John in high school so I was very excited to read it. (He was an all-around lovely person!) I found it to be a light, entertaining book. To be fair, my 3-star rating could simply be that this is not my genre. For me, once the danger started on the island, it started to read like a television melodrama. More than that, though, I felt conflicted through most of the book which in hindsight w...more
Ann Marie
John Shors showed again that he is an amazing writer. Although I still like Beneath a Marble Sky better this book showed the skill he has. It was a wonderful story about loss, sacrifice, love, acceptance, and betrayal. The characters were easy to fall in love with and sad to lose. Beautiful story.
Lisa Topp
A wonderful book to get swept up in and read away some dreary winter days. I love Shors' style, and he does a great job with the voices created in this novel. I enjoyed the dual perspective. Another excellent story from Shors - looking forward to his next novel.
Alison
This book was for me a wonderful read. I have always loved John Shors stories and this one really drew me in. The story takes place on a small deserted Island in the South Pacific, where 9 survivors (6 men, and 3 women) managed to swim ashore. The survivors were from a WWII hospital ship Benevolence, which had been split in two by a Japanese torpedo. The author has a wonderful way of describing the look and feel of their surroundings, and the wonderful personalities of the diverse group of peopl...more
Marta
I thought this book a good, but I didn't love it. I thought it was a little predictable, and the love story was cheezy. It did keep my interest, but wasn't great.
Fredsky
A fantasy soap, 1.5 stars. It was readable, but I got to resenting every word.
Natalie
I wish I could give this 1/2 star more but honestly it was not the relaxing read I was hoping for...from the very first chapter there is suspense knowing what is coming but not being able to see any way around it. So much of the description is about the sea...it was funny because I listen to ocean sounds to relax but while I was reading this book, every time I heard the ocean sounds, I would tense up for fear of what was happening to the people in the book!

If you like suspense and the tension of...more
Sarah Gruwell
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 go...more
Karen
This was the perfect book to read while vacationing on an Island in Maine. Shors is in my opinion, a very gifted writer. I love his short powerful sentences. The words flow easily from page to page and the plot line unfolds without nonsense or meandering prose. There is an underlying sense of poetry in his writing and his descriptions are original and lack cliche. This book takes place during WW two over the course of 18 days. A US hospital boat is sabotaged and blows up leaving only 8 survivors...more
Rebecca
I was really looking forward to reading this book, as I truly LOVED Mr. Shors first novel, Beneath a Marble Sky. Unfortunately, his second attempt didn't measure up, in my opinion. The plot didn't move at all until about 80 pages before its end and I thought the writing was overly dramatic and unrealistic at times; I found myself rolling my eyes and saying "come on? seriously?" far too often. With "Marble Sky" I remember not ever being able to put it down because I was so emotional invested in t...more
Kristina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Hi, everyone. I hope this message finds people well.

I'm the bestselling author of Beneath a Marble Sky, Temple of a Thousand Faces, Cross Currents, Beside a Burning Sea, Dragon House, and The Wishing Trees. My novels have won multiple awards and have been translated into twenty six languages. I have also spoken (via speakerphone) with more than 3,000 book clubs around the world.

For more informatio...more
More about John Shors...
Beneath a Marble Sky Dragon House The Wishing Trees Temple of a Thousand Faces Cross Currents

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