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      May Supporter Giveaway   05/03/2019

      It's May! The height of spring and a truly beautiful time of year so, when I saw this beautiful book cover, I knew we had to have it for the giveaway! May's winner will also receive the very first, completely unique, BCF bookmark!     As always, supporters will be entered into the giveaway automatically and a winner will be chosen at random at the end of the month. If you want to enter the giveaway but aren't currently a supporter, you can become one at https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.


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Everything posted by pontalba

  1. Happy Announcement!

    Wow! Changes ‘pon changes! Amazing! Looks great! Congrats and many thanks to Hayley and Michelle!
  2. Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita

    "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Le. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at achool. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita." Humbert the Horrible. Yes he was horrible. Horrible for the pain and theft of life he visited on Lolita, horrible to himself for the destruction of his own life. Horrible to his first wife, and Charlotte. Ah Charlotte, without whom none of the story could have happened. Selfish Charlotte, Curious Lolita. Innocent Lolita. And in the end.....well, that would be telling. The first time I read "Lolita" I did have a difficult time getting through the book. I was so outraged at.........everything and everybody in the story. Then upon dissection the reader is able to begin seeing underneath the layers of the story. There is a quote on the front cover of my copy from Vanity Fair, it says "The only convincing love story of our century." I am still not sure if I agree with that or not, but I do know this--it is a love story, and a story that will rip your heart right out, and ultimately a story of freedom. The pursuit of freedom at any cost. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
  3. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    Books Read in 2017 JANUARY The Children's Home by Charles Lambert 4/5 The Greatest Knight by Thomas Asbridge. 4/5 The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson 4/5 The Long Surrender by Burke Davis 5/5 A Death in Sweden by Kevin Wignall 4/5 FEBRUARY The Night Manager by John LeCarre 5/5 A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by. (Read 36%, couldn't finish, depressing) The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood 3/5 The Edge by Dick Francis 5/5 Hawaii by James Michener 5/5 The Perseid Collapse by Steven Konkoly 3/5 Event Horizon by Steve Konkoly 3/5 Watchman by Ian Rankin 4/5 Assignment: Amazon Queen by Edward S. Aarons 3/5 MARCH Extraordinary People by Peter May 4/5 The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George 5/5 The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek 5/5 If Kennedy Lived: The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy: An Alternate History by Jeff Greenfield 3/5 The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz. 2/5 (if that, I'm being kind) APRIL The Mists of Avalon by M.B. Zimmer 3/5 Triple Crown by Felix Francis 3/5 The Quiet Game by Greg Iles 5/5 Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon 5/5 As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley 4/5 How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain by Gregory Berns 5/5 Bird Box by Josh Malerman 5/5 MAY The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm MacKay 3.5/5 Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century by Nancy Schoenberger 3/5 Mystic River by Dennis LeHane 4/5 A Pillar of Iron by Taylor Caldwell 5/5 JUNE Days Without Number by Robert Goddard 5/5 How A Gunman Says Goodbye by Malcolm MacKay 4/5 The Sudden Arrival of Violence by Malcolm McKay 3.5/5 U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton 4/5 JULY Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane 4/5 Star Trek:TNG, Vendetta by Peter David 3/5 The Drop by Dennis Lehane 4/5 The Dark House by John Sedgwick 4/5
  4. Athena's Reading List 2017

    WOW!! Just saw your pictures of your fabulous new library! I am truly impressed! Absolutely beautiful, Gaia. What a great job of it you made.
  5. Athena's Reading List 2017

    I haven't seen the book....have to find it. Also agree about The Best of Both Worlds, it was better. I've seen most of the ST movies, and in First Contact is probably my least favorite. The Borg part of it was kind of miserable. The Borg Queen was kind of icky.
  6. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves 5/5 I love this series. Vera is absolutely marvelous in her slightly crumpled way. Most would be felons/murderers, etc. drastically underestimate her, to their detriment and final sorrow. Cleeves' writing and descriptive powers had me stuck right in the thick of the elements, and her humor is giggle worthy just when one probably shouldn't. It's a grim enough tale. Woman found dead in the steam room of what happens to be Vera's latest venture into "healthy living". Naturally Vera finds her and the convoluted chase begins. Twisting first this way, then another, Vera and her Sargent Joe follow a decades old mystery. If you've seen the BBC Vera series and enjoyed it, you'll love these stories. Also finished The Late Show by Michael Connelly also a 5/5 Its the first of his new series about (another LAPD) detective, Renee Ballard. They call the late night, all night shift "the late show", and she's been banished there because she called out a superior of hers for sexual harassment. The only witness refused to back her up in the complaint so she lost her place in the day shift. But in all truthfulness, she loves the shift. The story revolves around two cases that come her way. There is lots of character building and much grist for later stories. Ballard's personality is beautifully crafted and Connelly does an excellent job of showcasing the underbelly of Los Angeles. I had to laugh, they even mention Bosch.
  7. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    Hey Gaia, thanks....yeah, I've been reading more the last few days and really enjoying it. Sometimes we get away and stuck on bingeing on Netflix. lol Both fine here, just putting along. Oddly enough, I'd originally started with R, didn't care much for it but somehow I later began at the beginning and enjoyed them all the way up to S, as mentioned above. But now I'm pretty much finished with the series. But, I won't say I'll never read the rest. Just not in the foreseeable future. That makes two of us! I can't wait to see how they present it. Nollaig, have you read The Silence by Tim Lebbon? It was great, and BB, we did see the monsters!
  8. Health and Fitness

    I've tried more diets than you can shake a stick at. Yes, I lost weight, but it came back. What every expert in the field says is Right! You have to change your way of eating and thinking about food. Your diet has to be something you know you can live with for the rest of your life. It ain't easy! I think, at the ripe old age of 67 I have hit on The Method. Eat smaller meals, fewer meals, and no, or hardly any sweets. Yes, I still eat a few Dove chocolates, one can't give up everything! I have lost 27 pounds in 7 and a half months. Yeah, its slow, but it is sure. Plus it's a diet I can keep indefinitely.
  9. What Are You Watching Now? - 2017

    We just finished Season 7 a few days ago, loved it! Those last two episodes were mind-boggling! Watched a few eps of Deep Space Nine, but I don't care for it as much as I did when first seen. It might grow on me though. We watched the three seasons of the English version of The Killing. Fascinating stories, superb acting. It was a re-watch for us. Also watched the first season of The Crown. Liked it a lot, the actors were all good and most were very reminiscent of the real people.
  10. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    As mentioned above, I've read the final book in the Glasgow trilogy, The Sudden Arrival of Violence by Malcolm MacKay. I'd have to rate it a teeny bit lower, a 3.5/5. But it cleaned up the loose ends and gave a satisfying ending. Even though I'd sworn not to read another Sue Grafton's alphabet series after my disappointment in S is for Silence, I gave in and (thanks Muggle!) borrowed from the e-library U is for Undertow. Actually I quite enjoyed it. Surprised myself. Interesting mystery, good characterizations and the physical settings were great. I love Dennis Lehane's books. The Drop is a wonderful story about ordinary people, in grubby circumstances and the choices they must make to survive. Its one of his shortest books, even so, the first time I tried to read it I thought it depressing. But. I went back about 6 weeks later and absolutely loved it. I also read his Since We Fell, and honestly I think it might be his best. His portrayal of a woman possibly losing her grip is so on target, her fight for sanity and survival is right on target. To trust or not to trust when there is no obvious reason to trust. Good stuff. Finally I read The Dark House by John Sedgwick....4/5.....provisionally. Sedgwick's prose first seemed to me to be too simple, too immature. Finally I realized that he was simply reflecting his characters personality with the style.......not exactly immaturity, more incompleteness of self. A man so damaged, so unsure of himself that he finds it difficult to relate to others. His rather peculiar habit of following random automobiles at night leads him into a swamp of murder, stalking and possibly, oddly enough, love. Excellent characterization.
  11. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    Hah. Yeah, true......but I kind of liked that. When left to the imagination it's that much scarier, yes? Yays! The middle one was the best, IMO, but all in all I enjoyed the series and will look for more by that author.
  12. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    Glad to hear your humans and critters are all fine. Charles is doing well too, reading up a storm and we both are now in the 5th season of Star Trek, the Next Generation. Turns out I missed quite a few episodes back then, so some is new to me as well. I finished the the last of the Glasgow Trilogy mentioned above, and was satisfied with it. I'll certainly read more by that author. For or some reason I'm not getting any notifications, I've checked my settings, and even adjusted them some. But, still, no dice. They're not going into Junk mail either, I checked. '''Tis a puzzlement.
  13. Bobblybear's Book List - 2017

    Some good and some not so good.....but good reviews, all. Glad to see you're still cracking along.
  14. Little Pixie`s Bookshelf 2017

    LOL I see you're still at it! Happy to see your reviews and lists. Well done!!
  15. Athena's Reading List 2017

    Hey! Just stopping by to say hey there. Glad to see your reading is still going strong.
  16. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    Bird Box by Josh Malerman 5/5 What if the very sight of something.......something that the sight of which no one has been able to impart forced everyone to remain locked in their homes, windows closed, curtains drawn, shutters closed....whatever it took to thoroughly cover the window, drove a person insane. Violently insane with an overwhelming desire to murder. (yes, I love run on sentences) How would you protect your children, how could you manage any of the multitudinous everyday things we all take for granted? This is the possibly impossible task a young mother faces. How or if she manages this horrendous undertaking is the storyline here. The outcome is uncertain. Imagine attempting to canoe down a river blindfolded with two young children. Just imagine. The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm MacKay 3.5/5 First in MacKay's Glasgow Trilogy, this novel, a bit dryly, tells of the life of gangsterdom in Glasgow. It is told from many first person point of views and is strangely compelling. Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century by Nancy Schoenberger 3/5 /sigh/ Although sometimes extremely interesting, it is too repetitive by far. There are some good insights into both Burton and Taylor's psyche, and biographical details that I found interesting. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane 4/5 Three kids playing in the street are approached by an automobile, one of them enters the vehicle and disappears for two weeks. A young woman with no known enemies is murdered. Her father an ex-con that has gone straight and his childhood friend, now a policeman try to unravel the mystery. How the author gathers these disparate threads together and makes everything tick along is wonderful. Lehane's writing is superb. His descriptions are flowing and evocative of time and place. The characters are well drawn and diverse with the good and bad in them well portrayed. A Pillar of Iron by Taylor Caldwell 5+/5 One of my favorites of all time. The life of Marcus Tullius Cicero, the greatest orator, author, Roman that ever lived. A decent man in indecent times. He was a contemporary of Julius Caesar, Pompey, Crassus, Sulla, in other words, the entire entourage of Roman destroyers of the Roman Republic. Caldwell covers his life from birth to death, using for much of the dialogue Cicero's voluminous correspondence, and his hundreds of essays and manuscripts. Cicero's essays could have easily been written in our time. Some things never change. Days Without Number by Robert Goddard 5/5 A murder mystery....or was it murder? Generational infighting, historical mysteries, and persons that are not what they claim to be. Intricate plot lines, gorgeous writing combine in a wonderfully told story of deception, love, murder and covers ground from England to Vienna. Good stuff. How A Gunman Says Goodbye by Malcolm MacKay 4/5 Second in the above mentioned Glasgow Trilogy. Progression on above, well told.
  17. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    Hey there, Gaia. All fine here, just not getting online as much. Trying to concentrate on the awful news, and reading to escape it! Hah, as if. I'll try to catch up my lists, and thumbnail reviews. Hope all is well with you.
  18. Little Pixie`s Bookshelf 2017

    Beautiful kitty, beautiful Japanese plum trees, and loverly book pics!
  19. Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita

    Hmmm, I'm curious too. What was implausible about the last third? Regarding the name "Humbert", https://www.behindthename.com/name/humbert/comments Note "bright hell".......
  20. Athena's Reading List 2017

    Oh, Gaia. Sorry to hear about William. It's always so difficult when that happens, but as others have said, he had a good life with you and was happy and well cared for. I've never had any goats, but they do seem intelligent and adorable. Some great reviews above, I'm particularly interested in the Koch novella. I'll check to see if it's translated yet.
  21. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    Two more to add to the list! As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley 4/5 A nice addition to the Flavia series. I don't know if it's just me, but I think the author is tending more toward Young Adult type stories here. I know some criticized Bradley for making Flavia "too adult". I disagree with that theory, but apparently he has taken it to heart. I preferred her character as it was previously. All in all though a pleasing entry. I already have the next in the series, we'll see if Bradley continues this tendency. In this story, Flavia is banished to the wilds of Canada to a girls private school which happened to be attended by her Mother as well. The secret society plot line continues with some interesting additions. Recommended for series fans. How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain by Gregory Berns 5/5 Berns combines science and his love of dogs beautifully in this wonderfully told story of how he managed to successfully get MRI scans of dogs. Not of sedated or unconscious dogs, but dogs trained to remain still long enough for the scans to take place. No Easy Feat!! Lots of real science, so if you are bamboozled by science.......read it anyhow and skim the science-y parts. A definite must for dog lovers!
  22. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon 5/5 What a sleigh ride! Numerous narrators, some seeming reliable, some obviously unreliable, timelines that skitter all over the place and somehow Chaon brings them all together so we the reader finally understand how these characters connect. The clues are all there, scattered throughout the story if only we have the wit and clarity to notice them while holding on for dear life in our toboggan. Con men, gangsters, murderers and the like populate the story that is, in the end, about identity. How we view ourselves and others, how even our nearest and dearest don't always know what is driving us. Chaon also tackles the idea of what we consider "normal" as opposed to......not.
  23. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    Thanks, Gaia! I'll have to look for it, maybe Amazon..... I'll have to look him up. Thanks.
  24. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    I found this great article regarding Faulkner's quote. Love it! https://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2008/03/-the-past-isnt-dead-it-isnt-even-past/218789/
  25. pontalba's 2017 reading list

    The Quiet Game by Greg Iles 5/5 This is the first in Iles' Penn Cage series. Cage is a Natchez (Mississippi) born attorney that has practiced in Houston (Texas), he is a writer of legal thrillers and an ex-prosecutor in Houston. The story opens with Cage and his young daughter in Disney World, Orlando (Florida). The child is hysterical as she insists she has seen her Mother. Problem is, her Mother has, tragically died 7 months previously. He decides on the spot that he has to return Home to Natchez and his parents. The balance of the book is 98% based in Natchez. The opening sequence is heart rending. Iles prose is flowing, precise and just beautiful. Iles sees the shame of the past, is cognizant of our "present", and sees hope in the future. He sees the South with clear eyes and a burning desire to make it better. Loving eyes, even with all the terrible things that have happened. He sees race relations in the Deep South the way they have been, the way they are, and the way they could and should be. And, please God, will be. There is a great para at the beginning of Chapter 25, page 270 that I must quote. "Einstein said the arrow of time flies in only one direction. Faulkner, being from Mississippi, understood the matter differently. He said the past is never dead; it's not even past. All of us labor in webs, spun long before we were born, webs of heredity and environment, of desire and consequence, of history and eternity. Haunted by wrong turns and roads not taken, we pursue images perceived as new but whose provenance dates to the dim dramas of childhood, which are themselves but ripples of consequence echoing down the generations. The quotidian demands of life distract from this resonance of images and events, but some of us feel it always. And who among us, offered the chance, would not relive the day or hour in which we first knew love, or ecstasy, or made a choice that forever altered our future, negating a life we might have had? Such chances are rarely granted. Memory and grief prove Faulkner right enough, but Einstein knew the finality of action. If I cannot change what I had for lunch yesterday, I certainly cannot unmake a marriage, erase the betrayal of a friend, or board a ship that left port twenty years ago. And yet......."