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      March Supporter Giveaway   03/02/2019

      So March has crept up on us and I'm thrilled to finally show you the GREAT (he he...) March giveaway!     This time we have a gorgeous print of The Great Gatsby's most famous line from thestorygift.co.uk AND a Great Gatsby tea from the Literary Tea Company! This particular tea is Peach Blossom (which sounds delicious and I kind of wish I could keep it myself...) and the tin features another Gatsby quote.  If you'd like to see the other literary teas available (there are lots, I spent ages looking) you can find them both at the Literary Tea Company's etsy store (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LiteraryTeaCompany) or at their own website, theliteraryteacompany.co.uk .   As always, supporters are automatically entered into the giveaway and if you're not a supporter but want to be included in this months giveaway you can become a supporter on patreon here... https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum .   A winner will be chosen at random on the last day of the month. Good luck!  
pontalba

pontalba's 2017 reading list

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12 hours ago, pontalba said:

The Mists of Avalon by M.B. Zimmer  3/5

 

I read this book many years ago when I was a teenager. I liked it at the time, though I didn't love it. I'm not sure how it would hold up today, whether I'd still like it, but I plan to re-read it some day and we'll see then.

 

I'm glad you had some nice reads :).

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On 4/18/2017 at 7:44 PM, pontalba said:

The Mists of Avalon by M.B. Zimmer  3/5

 

A retelling of the Arthurian Legend through the Lady of the Lake's and her acolytes eyes.  I've had the book for at least 10 years, maybe more.  My now husband sent it to me before we lived in the same city. :) 

 

It was an interesting version, albeit very different to Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy.  Stewart's was told through a very human Merlin and I absolutely fell in love with it.  Zimmer's version certainly has it's human aspects, but the backdrop of magic is more apparent and more........raw, I think.  There is a great deal of Christian bashing, and considering some of the "Christians" she ran into, well deserved.  It's not a spoiler to say though that in the end the Lady sees the good side of Christianity and while certainly not converted,  she is content living cheek and jowl with it.

 

The only reason for my lower rating is that I found the story too drawn out, an editor could have cut some without losing any of the ambiance.

 

Zimmer's work is certainly worth reading, but a much better Arthurian writer is the little-mentioned Parke Godwin. You might like to try him.

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On ‎4‎/‎19‎/‎2017 at 1:59 AM, Athena said:

 

I read this book many years ago when I was a teenager. I liked it at the time, though I didn't love it. I'm not sure how it would hold up today, whether I'd still like it, but I plan to re-read it some day and we'll see then.

 

I'm glad you had some nice reads :).

 

Thanks, Gaia! :) 

 

On ‎4‎/‎19‎/‎2017 at 9:56 AM, Little Pixie said:

I`ve got The Mists of Avalon in my TBR ; I liked the TV adaptation (Edward Atherton, Michael Vartan ) :)

 

I'll have to look for it, maybe Amazon..... ;)

 

On ‎4‎/‎19‎/‎2017 at 3:54 PM, Lilliputian said:

Zimmer's work is certainly worth reading, but a much better Arthurian writer is the little-mentioned Parke Godwin. You might like to try him.

 

I'll have to look him up.  Thanks. :) 

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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.

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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!

 

 

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On ‎5‎/‎30‎/‎2017 at 8:10 AM, Athena said:

Hey Kate, how've you been :)?

 

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. :)

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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. 
 

Quote

 

Cicero to his daughter Tullia....

"A man who can command the very dregs of a nation, and who has no love for his country, and who is revolutionary and hating and vengeful and envious and evil and a traitor, is not to be laughed at or ignored. My friends are too complacent; they believe that Rome is founded on rock and our Constitution invulnerable and our law too strong. They love to consider themselves tolerant of all men’s opinions and refuse to believe that some men are profoundly wicked and monstrous by nature. They look at their own pleasant and fatherly visages and believe that their mirrors reflect all others’. Do you know what they tell me? That Catilina’s following is a very small minority in Rome!""

 

Atticus (his publisher)  to Cicero...

"Atticus his publisher wrote: "There are only two kinds of politicians: Those who love tolerance for its own sake and believe all men love it by nature, and those who espouse tolerance in order to hide the activities of the vicious who support them.""

 

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, pontalba said:

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. :)

 

Hi Kate, I'm glad you're doing well :). How is Charles?

Unfortunately, no way of getting away from the awful news :(.

The only positive news bit that I've seen recently, here, was about two panda's in a Dutch zoo who were allowed outside for the first time. It was really nice to see how much they liked that :). That was a few days ago, maybe last week somewhere.

But the rest of the news is mostly awful :(.

Two bodies were found in the Netherlands in / near a town, belonging to two teenage girls :(. Police suspects the cases may be related.

 

Nice reviews :)! A Pillar of Iron sounds interesting.

I'm doing well, thanks :). Things are going well here. My family are all okay and so are the animals. My sister and her boyfriend just had their PhD defenses. My brother and his girlfriend are still on their trip.

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On 6/5/2017 at 3:15 AM, Athena said:

 

Hi Kate, I'm glad you're doing well :). How is Charles?

Unfortunately, no way of getting away from the awful news :(.

The only positive news bit that I've seen recently, here, was about two panda's in a Dutch zoo who were allowed outside for the first time. It was really nice to see how much they liked that :). That was a few days ago, maybe last week somewhere.

But the rest of the news is mostly awful :(.

Two bodies were found in the Netherlands in / near a town, belonging to two teenage girls :(. Police suspects the cases may be related.

 

Nice reviews :)! A Pillar of Iron sounds interesting.

I'm doing well, thanks :). Things are going well here. My family are all okay and so are the animals. My sister and her boyfriend just had their PhD defenses. My brother and his girlfriend are still on their trip.

 

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.

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On ‎4‎/‎28‎/‎2017 at 1:49 PM, pontalba said:

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!

 

 

I have read all of the Flavia series and thoroughly enjoyed them Yes, I think the earlier books were maybe a little bit better but really loved them all. The last book, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd was the slowest read until the very end and then a surprise. Peacefield put me onto the Flavia books.

Edited by muggle not

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13 hours ago, pontalba said:

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'm glad Charles is doing well too :). It's nice you're both enjoying Star Trek: The Next Generation. We've just started season 7 and I've really been enjoying seeing all these episodes (new to me). It's nice some episodes were new to you too :).

 

Quote

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.

 

I checked in AdminCP and it does appear everything is checked the way it should be. It's really weird :(. Your email address seems to check out as well (at least, it's the same one you used when you emailed me some time ago, I presume it hasn't changed?). I don't understand it at all, it should all work based on what you've set. I've been able to get notifications and I presume so have others or otherwise we would've heard about it. I'll send you a PM and an email so we can perhaps try to figure this out.

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Nice reviews. :)I wasn't that keen on Bird Box, mainly because 

Spoiler

it was never revealed what made people go insane. I don't think the author could come up with anything credible enough so he just left it open-ended. :lol:

 

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On ‎6‎/‎10‎/‎2017 at 10:09 AM, bobblybear said:

Nice reviews. :)I wasn't that keen on Bird Box, mainly because 

  Hide contents

it was never revealed what made people go insane. I don't think the author could come up with anything credible enough so he just left it open-ended. :lol:

 

 

Hah.  Yeah, true......but I kind of liked that.  When left to the imagination it's that much scarier, yes?  :D

 

 

On ‎6‎/‎15‎/‎2017 at 0:15 PM, Alexi said:

The Glasgow trilogy sounds very interesting. Wish list ahoy!

 

Yays!  :D  The middle one was the best, IMO, but all in all I enjoyed the series and will look for more by that author. 

 

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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.

 

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Hi Kate, good to see you again :)! I'm glad you read some nice books. I hope all has been well with you and yours?

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I got fed up with Sue Grafton's series around R, still have the first few letters of the alphabet to read though!

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Bit behind on this, but delighted you loved Bird Box. It's one of my favourite horrors. Did you know they're making it into a movie? No idea how that's gonna work, though low production value if it's a black screen for 90 mins :D

 

@bobblybear you do have a point with your spoiler, I can see how that would be offputting for some people. I usually like things to be revealed, but I was okay with it in this book!

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