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pontalba's 2016 reading list

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I've finished Bridge of Spies by Giles Whittell, rating it, probably 3.5/5, leaning to 4/5. 

 

It's pretty much a straight narrative of the Gary Powers/U2 affair in 1960.  Whittell gives all the data backing up the whys and wherefores of the case.  He covers Powers background and the American student that were exchanged for the Soviet spy.  And when I say cover, I mean cover.  Not that the details were not interesting, its just that IMO, some of the minutia could have been excluded.  I admit to skimming a small handful of pages.  For the most part though it was a fascinating read that gave me details that I was unaware of.  I was only 10 years old when these events took place, so my knowledge of the affair was quite slender. 

 

Basically, Gary Francis Powers was shot down by the Soviets May 1, 1960 while making a sweep of Russian airspace, looking for ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) sites. He was flying a super secret U2 plane that was truly amazing.  Just learning about it was fascinating.  Around the same time an American student drove into East Berlin and was accused of spying, attempting to gain economic knowledge of the East Germans.  A few years earlier a Russian spy was put on trial in the United States and sentenced to prison.  

This book gives backgrounds on all the players, and their final exchange in Germany.

 

What I didn't care for, was the summation, and some of the suppositions that Whittell made about the reasons for some of the causes of the events.  Pretty much pure supposition, and sketchy at that.  He does temper his opinions, admitting that they are in fact opinions, not solid provable facts.  But still.  He plants seeds that border on the paranoid, IMO. 

 

If you are at all interested in Cold War policy, or causes, this is the book for you.

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Thanks, Gaia. :) 

It was, I've ordered the next two to follow up on it. :D

I hope you enjoy them :D!

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Cataract surgery, flu all over with, thankfully!  Howze 'bout you?

 

* Shuddders* Yikes ! Though - also - yay that you`ll be able to read well !  :D

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* Shuddders* Yikes ! Though - also - yay that you`ll be able to read well !  :D

 

LOL  Actually, no "yikes" about it.  I can honestly say the surgeries were a breeze.  The most annoying part was putting drops in my eyes in ever decreasing numbers for a month after each surgery.  Now my far sight is 20/20, but I still need reading glasses, almost the same ones as before.  No problem!  I'll take it! :D

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A Darker Domain by Val Mc Dermid  3/5

 

Originally my rating of A Darker Domain was a solid 4/5, nudging upwards.  The story is well presented, quite twisty, and generally pulled me along.  In fact I finished it in a 24 hour period.  My gripe with it is toward the very end of the book.  Told from several points of view, the story comes together.  No real red herrings here.  The clues are there for the seeing, if one will but see them. 

 

Two cold cases come to light from completely different sources and angles at approximately the same time.  One a kidnapping and murder, the other a seemingly straight up disappearance that occurred 20 years prior to the present day telling.  The story is told in partial flashbacks, thankfully dated.  The present day Detective Inspector in the small town near Edinburgh, Scotland has recently been put in charge of the Cold Case section. She is a great character, and an interesting and intuitive detective. 

 

My gripe, and I must confess one of my pet peeves, is when an author "tells" instead of "shows" the reader.  At almost the very end, the author uses the device of a letter left by a deceased participant of the above story threads.  The character spells out the crucial happening, the event that everything turned upon in a letter to an affected relative.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!  Then in a few pages several key events are summed up quickly, as though the author only had two more sheets of paper with to finish the story.  /sigh/ 

 

I will read another of McDermid's books, if only to see it that sort of ending/"telling" is her modus operandi (method of operation, aka M.O.) or not.  We shall see.

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LOL  Actually, no "yikes" about it.  I can honestly say the surgeries were a breeze.  The most annoying part was putting drops in my eyes in ever decreasing numbers for a month after each surgery.  Now my far sight is 20/20, but I still need reading glasses, almost the same ones as before.  No problem!  I'll take it! :D

 

Do they do cataract surgery in the US like they do in the UK - under local anaesthetic ?  :hide:

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Do they do cataract surgery in the US like they do in the UK - under local anaesthetic ?  :hide:

I looked up what cataract surgery is, it sounds horrific :hide:! I'm glad you got it over with, Pontalba.

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Shame this wasn't as good as it could've been :(.

 

I know.  But I'll certainly read another of hers.  Charles has read one.....different, and liked it.  So, all is not lost. :)

 

 

Do they do cataract surgery in the US like they do in the UK - under local anaesthetic ?  :hide:

 

It's local, but I was also given something to relax me, and believe me........it did!  heh.   The first surgery, I was completely "out of it", and only remember seeing a bit of dark red and black toward the end.  The second surgery, I was a little more awake, but not too much.  There was absolutely NO pain, or discomfort.  I think I felt a bit of tugging, but it didn't hurt.  And frankly, I'm not too sure I really sensed anything. 

My doctor is very reassuring and careful, and I've known her for years.  She is the same one that did my Aunt's cataract surgery about 15 years ago, and she did Charles' last year.  So, we go way back.  I was able to go out to eat afterwards, but then slept the rest of the day and most of the night.  Had to go back the next morning to have the bandage removed.  We stayed overnight at a hotel, as it was at a hospital across the lake, and I didn't want to be 80 miles from her if something did go wrong in the night. 

 

 

 

I looked up what cataract surgery is, it sounds horrific :hide:! I'm glad you got it over with, Pontalba.

 

:friends0:  Thanks, Gaia.  As I posted above, it really and truly sounds a lot more scary than it turns out to be!  I admit, I was a little nervous for the first one, but it was a breeze.  Well, almost a breeze. :D

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:friends0:  Thanks, Gaia.  As I posted above, it really and truly sounds a lot more scary than it turns out to be!  I admit, I was a little nervous for the first one, but it was a breeze.  Well, almost a breeze. :D

I'm glad it wasn't so bad :).

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Finished a couple more.....no real reviews but ratings.  :)

 

Prime Suspect 2  4/5 by Lynda La Plante  second (duh! :) ) in the Prime Suspect series, of which there are, unfortunately only 3.  Drat.  Loved the TV series with Helen Mirren and it really did stick closely to the books. 

 

Virgins by Diana Gabaldon    4/5 Novella that is a precursor to the original series featuring Jamie and Ian.  Takes place in France after Jamie's terrible whipping by Black Jack Randall.

 

Abandon by Blake Crouch (the author of the Wayward Pines series)  4/5  only mostly on account of a little bit too much stretching out the story.  While excellent, it went on a bit too long, imo.

The story covers two time frames, one in the past, 1893, and then the "present" 2009.  Crouch tells the stories of an abandoned gold mining town in the American Rocky Mountains in tandem.  Excellent story telling. 

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Thanks, Gaia.  Yeah, I was on a losing streak with books for awhile.  Glad that is over!   :D

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I've now read two of Hakan Nesser's books.  First and second in his "Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery" series.  Excellent.  Both at least 4.5/5 rating.

The first one, Mind's Eye, introduces us to Van Veeteren.  An Inspector that is not quite as depressed as Henning Mankell's  Wallander, but is as introspective.  An intuitive detective, his methods are fascinating.  In the second one, Borkmann's Point,  it's the same modus operandi.....I love it.  :) 

 

This is a series I will certainly follow!

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It's always exciting to find a new series you really like. I hope you enjoy more books in this series :).

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I've now read two of Hakan Nesser's books.  First and second in his "Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery" series.  Excellent.  Both at least 4.5/5 rating.

The first one, Mind's Eye, introduces us to Van Veeteren.  An Inspector that is not quite as depressed as Henning Mankell's  Wallander, but is as introspective.  An intuitive detective, his methods are fascinating.  In the second one, Borkmann's Point,  it's the same modus operandi.....I love it.  :)

 

This is a series I will certainly follow!

 

It`s always such a great feeling to discover a new series !  :D  How do the Van Veeteren books compare to Wallander or Harry Hole ( don`t know if you`ve read those ) in terms of violence ?  :smile:

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It's always exciting to find a new series you really like. I hope you enjoy more books in this series :).

 

 

It`s always such a great feeling to discover a new series !  :D  How do the Van Veeteren books compare to Wallander or Harry Hole ( don`t know if you`ve read those ) in terms of violence ?  :smile:

 

It really is a good feeling!  Agree with you guys. :) 

 

Sara, I'd have to say that the Van Veeteren books don't compare violence-wise to either Mankell/Wallander or Nesbo/Hole.  There is a violent crime, true.  However it isn't dwelled upon in the VV books as opposed to the others.  To compare the detectives though, I really like Wallander but not Hole so much......I do like Van Veeteren more than either.....so far that is.  He is still a developing entity.  Plus some of the peripheral characters are interesting as well.  More so than in the others I mentioned.  Its as though there is more "spreading out" of the character development.

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It really is a good feeling!  Agree with you guys. :)

 

Sara, I'd have to say that the Van Veeteren books don't compare violence-wise to either Mankell/Wallander or Nesbo/Hole.  There is a violent crime, true.  However it isn't dwelled upon in the VV books as opposed to the others.  To compare the detectives though, I really like Wallander but not Hole so much......I do like Van Veeteren more than either.....so far that is.  He is still a developing entity.  Plus some of the peripheral characters are interesting as well.  More so than in the others I mentioned.  Its as though there is more "spreading out" of the character development.

 

Sarah with a huh at the end. ;) Thanks, that sounds enticing. Shall go and have a Kimple now.  :D

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Sarah with a huh at the end. ;) Thanks, that sounds enticing. Shall go and have a Kimple now.  :D

 

Agggggg!  Many apologies!  :blush2:   Can only ascribe my slip to brain freeze  and/or senility! :flowers2:

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Agggggg!  Many apologies!  :blush2:   Can only ascribe my slip to brain freeze  and/or senility! :flowers2:

 

Aww.  :blush2:  You were close enough. And it sounds the same.  ;)

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Hi Kate

 I see you had a bout of the flu, then cataract surgery on top of that. Glad you are on the mend from both and back to normal .

How long did you have to go without a book during the cataract surgeries, and how close together did they do them ?

 

Do you listen to audiobooks ? You could have kept up that way for awhile if need be .

 

Looks like you are plugging right along again now .

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Hi Kate

 I see you had a bout of the flu, then cataract surgery on top of that. Glad you are on the mend from both and back to normal .

How long did you have to go without a book during the cataract surgeries, and how close together did they do them ?

 

Do you listen to audiobooks ? You could have kept up that way for awhile if need be .

 

Looks like you are plugging right along again now .

 

It's great to see ya here, Julie!  :doowapstart:

 

Hah, yes, but at least they were all spread out over 5 and a half months!  First cataract surgery was last November, then the second in January.  Flu didn't come along till the very end of February. 

 

Didn't go a minute without reading, or watching TV.  You can do any and everything almost immediately.  The only restrictions were not to lean over (so fluids would remain where they were supposed to be), no rubbing of the eyes, and when showering don't let the shower beat down on your eyes.  What was a royal pain was the amount of drops I had to have.  For 4 weeks!  The first week, two different drops 4 times a day, then decrease by one drop each week, till gone.  That was fun. :D

Both were on an outpatient basis.  Went in early in the morning, prepped, had the surgery which itself only takes about a half hour.  My doc is very cautious, so she had a patch super thick, on my eye till the next morning.  Then I went back and she removed it, tested my eye and we came home.  She said all doctors don't use the overnight patch, but I'm glad she did. 

It was funny, after the surgery we went to a shopping mall to the food court.....ah wuz starvin'!! 

People sure gave me funny looks. :giggle2:

Since we went down to New Orleans for the surgery, we stayed overnight in a hotel.  I think I slept 12 hours that night.

 

I can't listen to book recordings much.  They either put me to sleep, or, if I try to do any work whilst listening, I can't manage it.  Guess I can't walk and chew gum at the same time.  :tease:

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I'm glad you got them both over with , and had a good Dr to do it for you . Lots of people put that off as long as possible. I think it's the fact that they are sticking something in your eye . but if you are put out or close to it, then you won't even know what they did to you .

 

Audiobooks do take some getting used to . I listen to a lot of them now, but in the beginning, it was hard to train my brain to concentrate with my ears instead of my eyes .

 

Glad you didn't have any "down time" without books. That'd be like taking FOOD away from most people !

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Glad you didn't have any "down time" without books. That'd be like taking FOOD away from most people !

 

:giggle2:  :giggle2:

 

I went to the acupuncturist not long ago and realised I`d forgotten to put my book in my handbag. I seriously considered going to buy a book in a nearby charity shop, just to `cope` with the 15 minute wait.  :smile:

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