Monday, February 17, 2014

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

This is the next one in the book club I have yet to attend and I finished it!

I chose a Librivox audiobook for this even though I had the actual book because I needed to keep knitting! The version I downloaded was 4 hours and done quite well (version 2).

I am unsure what to say about this one. I am unsure that I really like Wharton's books. I keep listening and reading because there is something about the story that gets me, but in the end, I wonder why I did. Ethan is a not very old man (52, I believe) when an outsider to the town meets him. He was crippled in an accident and we get the whole sad story. Sad. Depressing story. With a sledding accident.

At the time, Frome is about 28 and his wife's cousin comes to live with them because she has no one else. His wife, Zeena, is quite the woman. Suspicious and a hypochondriac. Mattie, her cousin, is young and pretty and she and Ethan take a liking to each other.

I suppose I could have thought this book would be hopeful. I suppose they could have went off and lived happily ever after. But a miserable existence was in their cards. And what a miserable one it is.

I need an uplifting book to read now.

Storm Front by John Sandford

And here's another Fuckin' Flowers book. Can I say I love Virgil?

I downloaded the audiobook from because I was too busy knitting for the Ravellenic games to actually *gasp* pick up a book. I needed my hands free for this one...

Because it's an audio book, I have no idea of the spelling of anything in this book. Somehow I grabbed my first ever audio of a Sandford book and it's filled with Israeli and Lebanese names. So pardon me if things are misspelled in this review...

Elijah Jones is a religious man who has been on many archeological digs in Israel and just so happens to find an artifact that could change the biblical face of things. So he naturally smuggles it out of Israel and straight down the road from Virgil Flowers. Lucas Davenport, his boss and main guy of the Prey series, assigns Virgil to pair with an Israeli agent to get the stone back.

Things get much worse as Jones puts the stone up for auction and many "bad guys" come in to town to place their bids. Bad guys is in quotes simply because it felt more comical than scary. Even with the Turks who cut off testicles....still seemed more funny. The baddies just weren't....bad.

The search for the stone wasn't as nail-biting and there wasn't a lot of mystery.

This sounds like I was unhappy with the book and that's not true. I still love Flowers and it was a new take on what he can do (or who he can do). I'm happy it didn't get all biblical/Dan Brown like and it was a good story.

I was happy to go along for this less-bumpy ride.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

While googling, I just saw this is a movie now. This was such a powerful book, I don't know that I'd want to see the movie. But I did just add it to the queue....

I do think this is a really great book but I was bothered by some aspects. So onwards.... Sarah of the title is a little girl in WWII Paris and, unfortunately for her at the time, Jewish. The only way you don't know about Nazis and what happened during WWII is if you live under a rock or are willfully ignorant. But, I have to admit, that I did not know about the situation in Paris at the time.

Sarah was part of the Vel' d'Hiv roundup (aka Operation Spring Breeze - really??) where over 13,000 Jews were arrested and placed in "holding" in a a Velodrome that quickly became a filthy, sickly, horrendous place to be. From there, they are moved to "camps" and, at that point, most people knows where things go.

Julia is an American journalist in Paris who is tasked with writing about the anniversary of this event. The more she learns, the more horrified she becomes, and the more she realizes that the French would rather pretend it never happened. What's the good of reliving the past? (So you don't repeat it??). Her marriage to Frenchman, Bertrand, is in trouble and becomes more troubled when she finds out she's pregnant.

As the stories separately continue, we start seeing where they mesh together. Past and present are linked and the journey for the truth of what happened to Sarah becomes a quest for Julia.

I loved the story. It kills me the monstrous acts that humans inflict on one another and each time I think it's as bad as we get... I find it gets worse. The majority of the Jews arrested that day in Paris? Children. Around 4,000 of those rounded up were children.

The youngest on record being sent to Auschwitz? 18 months old.

Dads went sent directly away while later on, mothers were forcibly ripped from their children and sent to their death.

Everyone has to face their history. This is the history of our world, that everyone was involved in. Either fighting against or going along with. I strongly encourage everyone to do research into this and learn.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

I read this one for a new book club, that I have yet to get to. This time I failed to make it because my car blew a radiator hose and I was unable to make the drive. But I finished the book!

I don't actively seek out Jane Austen because the romantic goo is not up my alley. I want to say that if you go back and re-read any of my Austen reviews, I'll say the same. Usually something has to prod me to read her books.

Jane Austen? Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book. ~Mark Twain
Sorry, I had to :)

Sense and Sensibility focuses on the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. I disliked them both. I disliked their brother, his wife, their neighbors and friends. I wanted to actively punch Mrs. Palmer and Lucy Steele. I don't know if this was the desired effect but it was the effect.

Elinor is the steadfast, mature sister while Marianne is the dreamer and self-centered sister. They have moved to Barton Cottage after the elder Mr. Dashwood has passed. The Middletons are their neighbors (re: Sir John "He's as stupid as the weather") and leave little to be desired in the name of entertainment.

The gist, I gather, is the stringent search for a man to marry. Marianne and Elinor both believe they have found their mate only to be disappointed. No one really comes out and says YES HE'S MY MATE, it's all guessed at and hinted at and gossiped about so it's not surprising how jacked up things get.

The ending was a non-surprise and a surprise. In the end though, I have to say the characters, as much as I disliked them and would never want to be near such people in real life, entertained with their audacity and shallowness.

A great audio version of this is available at Look for version 4 by Karen Savage. It really is excellent.