Friday, February 26, 2010

Review: Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility
by Jane Austen

Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis (Minnesota), 2010

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publisher

Sense and Sensibility is the first published book of Jane Austen; next year is the anniversary: 200 years. A book without age and wrinkles; full of wits, surprises, change of scenes and characters described inside their soul (Does Jane Austen describe the psychology of the characters? No, we're lucky, Freud and friends not yet born!).

A tale of two sisters opposite until the end of the book. Elinor and Marianne, following different paths, at last find love and happiness.

The themes of Sense and Sensibility are the conjectures of the soul and concealed feeling, rational (Elinor) and irrational (Marianne). At the turn of the century, Jane Austen presents old and new cultural movement: classicism and romanticism. The first as Elinor with judgment and moderation, the second as Marianne with extravagance and imagination. Within the other characters I liked Willoughby: he follows the evil's path whom 'had led him likewise to punishment' (p. 295), and Willoughby also is the man who is forgiven by Elinor.

This edition comes with notes about historical anecdotes, unscientific ranking of the characters, themes of faith relate to Austen's life and references from Sense and Sensibility's movies (I like these notes!). It seems another book to take to school; I don't think so: Sense and Sensibility is not so boring, take it in your everyday life.

Sense and Sensibility is a classic book, or as written by Italo Calvino 'A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say' (the translation in mine).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Review: This World We Live In

This World We Live In
by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Harcourt Children's Book, (2010)
I received this free ebook from NetGalley.

I admit I hadn't read the two previous books of these series, so my thoughts concerned just this third book.

Miranda is a girl who tells the story of her family and friends after a disaster: a meteor hit and move the moon close to the earth. Apart from this science fiction's event the story is very plain, some bike riding, and a love story.

This book is structured like a journal wrote by Miranda.

Pfeffer uses the obsolete idea about a deserted world, many dead bodies, nothing to eat, and so on. "The things we used to take for granted. Water. Power. Sunlight" (p.6) are vanished.

In my opinion this is a good educational book for kids: the question 'What could we do without sun, water, food?' The answer is in this book. Beyond an educational target I don't recommend this book to science fiction's fun.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Review: The Surrendered

The Surrendered
by Chang-rae Lee

Riverhead Books (A member of Penguin Group, USA), New York, 2010
I received this free book as ARC from Penguin Group

Just a first sentence: when you start reading this book never stop listening to the tales of Chang-rae Lee.

This book is the story of June, Hector and Sylvie and also an excursus in Usa, Korea and China's History of the 20th century (30s, 50s, and 80s). The background is the Korean War in which a child, June (the war started in June 1950), lost her parents; an orphanage runs by two missionaries, Reverend Tanner and his wife Sylvie; and an ex-US army soldier, Hector.

The narrative style: Lee postpones the stream of the events, while telling the stories of these people he goes back and forth; but eventually you are impatient to know what happens next and keep reading.

The theme of responsibility and feeling of guilt runs through most of this book:
- Hector's guilt, a character escaped from some book of Dostoevsky, was to leave alone his drunk father at the pub, so the same night he fell down in the canal and died drowned. In my opinion this event will change forever the rest of Hector's life. Hector eventually meets someone to be happy: Dora, a woman no wanted by anyone (as Liza or Sonya in Dostoevsky); but something will stop this happiness. "He (Hector) felt he might like to be adopted away, too. (...) in a circumstance in which he would have no responsibilities except for some strenuous job or chores." p. 151
- June, ("a dusty little moon" p. 111), despite her willing of life, only once found her sickness undertsands why she has lost her son: "you could never love someone out of his nature, love someone out of his fate." p. 244 And when June was a child running away from the war, decided to climb atop a crowed train where, after an accident, her sibling dies. These 'wrong' decisions will be mate of June's life.
- Sylvie's feeling of guilt came from her willing of mercy and her beloved book Battle of Solferino by Dunant which inspired the creation of the Red Cross; but mercy and compassion have limits, as Reverend Tanner teaches to his wife Sylvie.

Lee seems to tells us that the Fate has lost somewhere these people; or the questions 'Could you change your destiny?', or "Could one ever reroot her own ... self?" p. 395, they have no answer.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Review: The Canal

The Canal
by Daniel Morris

Create Space (2008)

I received this free ebook from Daniel Morris on Librarything's Member Giveaway.

Detective Joe Lombardi and his collegue Alan D'Angelo are searching the killer of a man found dangling under a bridge. All the clues lead to the canal nearby the bridge of the killed man. But this time something happens other than the usual detective stories.
"The canal was like the world's greatest library of scum - archived, compiled and presented" p. 7

This is not an e-book, it's an e-smell-clean/dirty-book. Joe Lombardi is the image of an old fashioned idea of detective: strange, with unusual habit, dirty. Sometimes this book is confused as a garbage bin: horror?, thriller?, mystery?, Fbi X-files?

Morris takes a lot to change gear (next time, Daniel, automatic transmission), but almost at the end of the book he manages. So, dear reader, don't surrender ...

Some ideas of the Enterprise (the beast of The Canal) remind me of another book: Maldoror by Lautreamont; so those who manage to finish reading this book, could read the other one.

A quote: "The cigarette eventually squiggled from his hands (Joe Lombardi), landing in a stack of other half-formed failures, ... Meanwhile his hands played on. A very avant-garde, Jazz type tune." p. 93