Jump to content
pontalba

pontalba's 2013 reading list

Recommended Posts

The Last Day on Earth by R.M. Allison is a novella detailing a young woman's last day on earth. 

A meteor is scheduled to strike the earth at an unknown location, one that is reported to be bigger than the one that destroyed the dinosaurs.  So.  Even if there is anything left in parts of the planet, it certainly will not be close to "normal".  The population is told of the meteor about a month before it is due.  The background is told in flashbacks, chronicling how various ones react to the news. 

 

One family in particular is zeroed in on, located in Australia.  It's interesting to see different reactions of city dwellers, and the rural population. 

The novella is fairly Young Adult imo, and well worth the read.

Recommended

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor 5+/5

 

Young and fairly innocent Amber St. Clare knows she is destined for better and higher things than the sleepy hamlet in which she is raised.  Amber is the product of a secret union between two young people from opposing families...Royalists and Rebels, Oliver Cromwell's rebels.  We all know where that led. 

 

Amber is unaware of her antecedents, only knowing the family that kept her after her mother died in childbirth.  No one knows what happened to the father, he most likely was killed in the war.  In any case no one knows who her real family is.  But she is as a beautiful flower in the middle of a field of weeds in her beauty and natural carriage. She is 16 years old and ripe.

 

When the Royalists make their return, groups of Cavaliers make their way through her village, one in particular,  Bruce Carlton is taken with the beauty.  She persuades him to take her with him.

 

Her story is entwined with the Restoration Era...a hellions ride in history.  Winsor combines the events of Charles II's return of the monarchy to England with the insanity that overtook London. 

 

This chapter beginning takes place after the Great Fire, the Plague, and war with the Dutch...

 

"London had grown as hysterical as a girl with the green-sickness.  Her life these last years had been too full of excitement and tragedy, too turbulent and too convulsive, and now she was uneasy, nervous, in a constant state of worry and fear.  No prospect was too dismal, no possibility too remote--anything might happen, and probably would.

The new year had opened despondently, with thousands of homeless men and women and children living in tiny tar-roofed shacks that had been thrown up on the sites of their former homes.  Or they were crowded together in the few streets within the walls which had been spared by the Fire, and forced to pay exorbitant rents.  In a winter of unusual coldness and severity sea-coal was so expensive that many could not afford it at all.  Most of them believed, not unreasonably, that London would never be rebuilt and they had no faith in the present, saw no hope for the future.

An evil star seemed to be ascendant over England."

 

At heart Forever Amber is a love story, but not only Amber and Bruce's story....it is London's story, London's turbulent love affair with both Charles II and itself.  The details Winsor includes of class struggles, the aristocracy, and the palace intrigues make fascinating reading.  It's always the details that make a book, and this has a plethora of detail.  Perfection.

 

Highly recommended!

Edited by pontalba

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read Forever Amber a few years ago and Amber still stands out in my mind, which I think is the sign of a really well drawn character. It's a great book, so I'm glad you enjoyed it too :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good reviews Pontalba I liked the sound of all the books but I think I will make a point of looking for the Morgue Drawer series that looks quirky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read Forever Amber a few years ago and Amber still stands out in my mind, which I think is the sign of a really well drawn character. It's a great book, so I'm glad you enjoyed it too :smile:

 

Thanks bookworm, it's really one of my all time favorites. :)

Good reviews Pontalba I liked the sound of all the books but I think I will make a point of looking for the Morgue Drawer series that looks quirky.

Thanks VF, :) 

I've now read the third of the series, but haven't done a review.  I should.  The series improves with each entry.  I really loved the third one, Morgue Drawer for Rent.  The author really made me want a 4th installment. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Replay by Ken Grimwood 5/5

 

There is so much that can go wrong with a story of this nature. Confusion upon confusion.

Didn't happen. No confusion, just fantastic storytelling.

Suppose you died at 43, of a massive heart attack, only to wake up in your college dorm at the perfectly delectable age of 18? hah Jeffery does just that, makes mega bucks betting horse races and with stocks. After all, isn't money the thing that makes you happy? Come on, don't you think money would solve all your problems? Surprise. Suppose you died again at 43? That life cycle keeps on spinning.

How long does it take us to learn a lesson, how many lifetimes have to happen to us in many different patterns to learn to be happy, or at least content?

In the end, everything.....and nothing is explained.
Life is a circle.

Highly Recommended!  And, thanks to all who recommended it!  You know who you are! :flowers2:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So many positive reviews for this book! I might have to buy it and read it for myself XD..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Star Trek Into Darkness 2013


 

We saw Star Trek Into Darkness, the movie, today at a sparsely populated, mid-week, mid-afternoon showing. There have been numerous, varying reviews of this latest installment of the franchise. As a fan of the show from the very beginning, back in 1966, I have a rather possessive feeling, and quite a bit of emotional attachment to the characters and the Star Trek Universe in general. Having read the negative reviews listing the various ways J.J. Abrams did not live up to Gene Roddenberry's vision, I was braced for the worst. The way some reviews read, I expected this installment to be more or less the 'person of dubious parentage' son, the ultimate cringe worthy death knell of the franchise. I had to go. I had to see for myself, somewhat like having to actually see a loved one in the coffin to convince themselves of the trueness of the death.


 

Phew!


 

J.J. Abrams has brought the franchise into the 21st Century. Comparisons to the Original Series are not easy to make and probably not entirely fair. This is after all, an Alternate Time Line brought on by events from the first "new" installment of Star Trek. The characters will be different, yet, the same difference. Kirk has had pressures that were never brought to bear in the original, this version lost his father almost before he was born and Spock has had to deal with the loss of his entire planet.


 

This version of Kirk is not as mature as Shatner's Kirk. With good reason...this version has been thrust into the Captaincy at a younger age than before, and the immaturity and lack of experience shows. This film has the effect of tempering the young Kirk, helping him come to the maturity a Star Ship Captain requires. Kirk will always be a cowboy, that is imprinted on his DNA, but he is learning to balance.


 

Some reviews bemoaned the militiarization of Star Trek, and in that attitude have entirely missed the thrust of this film. Every bit of this film is dedicated to the honoring of the Star Trek philosophy of peace. The very plot of the film is Kirk against the Dark Forces that have developed in Star Fleet Command, Kirk is the man that fights that injustice. He and Spock, the entire Enterprise crew, become a team that fights for right. Of course there are fantastic explosions, dare devil stunts that amaze us. The modern palate is far more jaded than 50-odd years ago, and demands those explosions, the fantastic feats that were impossible in those days.



 

There are many issues that could be brought out, but suffice it to say we have to roll with the punches, we have a new Star Trek. I for one, welcome it, and believe Roddenberry's vision is alive and well.


 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Death Will Have Your Eyes by James Sallis 5/5

 

An existentialist spy story. Sounds a bit odd, yes? It is odd. But so well done, with such feeling and hope the pages speed by. Sallis is first a poet and his prose shows it.

Highly Recommended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad you enjoyed Star Trek, pontalba.  And Replay, it goes without saying! :cool::D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez 2/5

 

Bleak.  Black.  Humorless.  The title says it all really.  A death foretold, an unnecessary, and probably unjust death, nay, murder.  How can an entire village know of a murder about to happen, and do nothing about it.  Not even warn the intended victim?  Class differences?  Jealousy?  Indifference?  Whatever the reasoning, this is an indictment of human nature that is the closest I've seen since Roberto Bolano's 2666.    Fortunately this book is only about 1/10th of that tome, otherwise I could not have finished. 

 

The only reason I give it two stars is on account of the clear and well written prose, and the impact of the book.

 

Not recommended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although I'd not seen the film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, I none the less went into the book with certain high expectations. Some of said expectations were gained by osmosis through dribs and drabs I'd heard over the years, but some were only because of the fabulous Miss Maggie Smith's reputation and personal charisma. /sigh/ What a disappointment.

 

The book, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was a portrait of a self-centered, and sad woman attempting to mold young women, and only certain young women, to what she considered.......what? Her ideal? In her image? In what she wished she'd become? She seemed to choose girls that were not pretty, or were insecure, so therefore, susceptible to influence.  I have not had children, so I cannot speak from experience. However. If a child of mine had a teacher that flouted what I held dear, a teacher that bragged, yes bragged, of her love life to her, I'd be mighty upset. I'd be upset enough to raise Hades with everyone in sight.

 

A teacher that encouraged an extra-marital affair of one of her students is someone that should certainly not be in charge of young and pliable minds.

It came upon me slowly, I could hardly believe my eyes when I first read some of the things she spoke of to the girls. Had the woman no sense of privacy? No sense of the affect such telling would have upon the girls?

 

I understand she was terribly disappointed in life and fate that had been dealt her by Her Hugh having been killed in the War, but thousands of women face that very thing, so special or alone in that she was not.  I actually somehow doubted the truthfulness of those "Hugh" tales.

 

On top of all of that, I simply didn't like the style in which the prose was written. It seemed rather dry and unimaginative. So glad it was only a 130-odd pages. Sheesh.  I'm still trying to figure out why I gave it as high a rating (2.5/5) as I did.  The only reason I can come up with is that it really made me angry, so it must have had someting! :)

 

 

I don't know how to start... First off, let me hand you a nice bouquet of flowers! :flowers2:  And then let me say I laughed while reading that review... I don't particularly like it when people don't enjoy their books, but with this one.... I gained a soulmate :giggle2: A very, very apt review, in my opinion!

 

"Had the woman no sense of privacy? No sense of the affect such telling would have upon the girls?"

 

I had this image of the 21st century Jean Brodie joining the cast of Jersey Shore.... :lol:

 

I read the book for my English class (what kind of a professor chooses this title instead of so many other novels, that are actually wonderdul??), and it was my least favorite (well, to be completely honest, my leasts favorite was Tess by Hardy and don't get me started on that one! But Brodie came a close second... at least it was a short book!) and I'm still very bitter about having to read the book. What bothered me the most about it was that

in the blurb, or in the beginning of the novel the reader, i.e., was lulled into believing something really, really unexpected and shockworthy would happen. But no. The 'shockworthy' thing was revealed right at the start and then it was just discussing it and Brodie and the girls over and over again. Blah!! I don't even remember what the 'shock' was...

 

 

What annoys me the most, is that lately I've been feeling like re-reading the book just to see if it was as awful as I remember it to be. But why would I want to do that to myself? I quite like myself, on occasion, and wouldn't want to subject myself to such a novel again... :rolleyes:

 

Edit: Oh and I've been meaning to tell you for ages: I really like your new avatar! It's nice to put a face to the username, and I like it that the bookcases are there behind you :D Very prettyful!

 

Edited by frankie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Edit: Oh and I've been meaning to tell you for ages: I really like your new avatar! It's nice to put a face to the username, and I like it that the bookcases are there behind you :D Very prettyful!

x

I agree! It's a great, bookish, personal avatar :).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know how to start... First off, let me hand you a nice bouquet of flowers! :flowers2:  And then let me say I laughed while reading that review... I don't particularly like it when people don't enjoy their books, but with this one.... I gained a soulmate :giggle2: A very, very apt review, in my opinion!

 

"Had the woman no sense of privacy? No sense of the affect such telling would have upon the girls?"

 

I had this image of the 21st century Jean Brodie joining the cast of Jersey Shore.... :lol:

 

I read the book for my English class (what kind of a professor chooses this title instead of so many other novels, that are actually wonderdul??), and it was my least favorite (well, to be completely honest, my leasts favorite was Tess by Hardy and don't get me started on that one! But Brodie came a close second... at least it was a short book!) and I'm still very bitter about having to read the book. What bothered me the most about it was that

in the blurb, or in the beginning of the novel the reader, i.e., was lulled into believing something really, really unexpected and shockworthy would happen. But no. The 'shockworthy' thing was revealed right at the start and then it was just discussing it and Brodie and the girls over and over again. Blah!! I don't even remember what the 'shock' was...

 

 

What annoys me the most, is that lately I've been feeling like re-reading the book just to see if it was as awful as I remember it to be. But why would I want to do that to myself? I quite like myself, on occasion, and wouldn't want to subject myself to such a novel again... :rolleyes:

 

Edit: Oh and I've been meaning to tell you for ages: I really like your new avatar! It's nice to put a face to the username, and I like it that the bookcases are there behind you :D Very prettyful!

 

Gawd, I know what you mean...everyone lets it all hang out...!! gak.   I'm actually happy we don't have TV piped into the house anymore, and only watch DVDs of what we like.  All those commercials and "reality" shows....whose bloody reality is it, I wonder!  sheesh!

 

And, thank you. I truly disliked the book, and was very disappointed that I did.

Oh, please, don't reread....once is enough contamination.  :roll:

 

Also, thanks re avatar...this computer has a built in camera, so that's me at the computer in the study. 

 

x

I agree! It's a great, bookish, personal avatar :).

/curtsy/  Thank you so much! :blush2:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley 5/5


"Dear You,

The body you are wearing used to be mine. The scar on the inner left thigh is there because I fell out of a tree and impaled my leg at the age of nine."


Thus begins one of the strangest book journeys I've taken.


Myfanwy Alice Thomas, or her body at least, awakens in a park, in the rain, with many bodies surrounding her, all wearing latex gloves. No memory, soaked to the skin, with two black eyes, she finds two notes in her jacket pocket. What follows is at first a missing person mystery. But, what if you are the missing person, and you haven't a clue? The story evolves into a spy story as it becomes obvious Myfanwy is.......just what she isn't sure at first.


In what I consider a fantastic twist, she finds she has amazing, "powers". The notes found in her pocket give her some information, and a choice. I'll leave it to you to find out what those choices are, and the course she decides upon. Whoever "she" is. Perhaps she is Myfanwy, perhaps not.


I truly loved the fascinating combination of mystery, spy story, and science fiction/fantasy. The combination is just right for fans of all of the above genres.


Oh, yes. O'Malley is writing a sequel.


 

Highly Recommended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The rook sounds like a fantastic read, added to the ever growing wishlist!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The rook sounds like a fantastic read, added to the ever growing wishlist!

 

It really was an unexpected delight! 

It's going on my wishlist too. Nice review :)!

Thanks Athena, glad to hear the word is spreading!

 

I can't wait to read what he does next!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Over the weekend I finished a couple of books, the first being Mary, Queen of France by Jean Plaidy.  For one thing, I didn't realize that a sister of darling Henry VIII had married Louis XIII of France.   It was, evidently, his third marriage, shortly before he died.  Plaidy tells the story, fictionally of course, from both Mary's POV and Francois, the would-be Dauphine of France.  Would-be because said Louis has no male heir, and Francois is the closest male in line for the throne, unless of course, Mary happens to conceive. 

It could have been a fascinating telling of intrigue, suspense and heartbreak and happiness.  Instead it was rather dryly told, in simplified prose.  Meh.

 

Then I found Dust Angel by Jutta  Profijit on my kindle.  She is the same (German) author that wrote the Morgue Drawer series that I've reviewed up thread, here.

She is funny, irreverent, and full of surprises.  Nothing terribly deep in the stories, but there is an underlying theme of female empowerment that doesn't hit one over the head.  With a fast moving mystery, a certain level of suspense, and a bit of surprising romance thrown in, I'll certainly read any of her books. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Six Years by Harlan Coben 4/5

 

Jake Fisher and Natalie Avery are in love, it is the real thing. Then, suddenly, Natalie announces she is marrying someone else, an old flame turned up again. Jake cannot believe it, but watches the wedding ceremony and is forced to believe. Natalie makes Jake promise that he will leave the new couple alone. But will he, can he?

Now, six years later, he reads of her husband dying, murdered. What follows is a well written tale of intrigue, love and devotion. Coben places his protagonists in seemingly impossible situations, and twists them around until the reader cries, Uncle!

Yes, Coben's stand alone novels are somewhat formulaic, but it's a formula I love, and there are enough twists and turns to keep them interestingly different. And, we are never quite sure how it will turn out.

Recommended

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Replay book sounds very interesting ....like my kind of book . Something that makes you think long after finishing it ~~~~~

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That sounds really good. Another one for the wish list.

 

Oh, that is great! :D

The Replay book sounds very interesting ....like my kind of book . Something that makes you think long after finishing it ~~~~~

Julie, so very, very happy to see you back.  :bye2:  :friends0:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That you kindly  , Kat --

 

Good to be back .  It sure looks like you have been on a major reading mission lately !  Good job  -- I need to get more back into the groove myself. I've read a bit here and there ,but not as much as usual , so I'll see if I can step it up a notch .   :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking From Among the Bones by Alan Bradley 5/5

 

Flavia's story gets better and better, and more and more interestingly layered with each new installment of the series. 

An 11 year old, yes, old for her age is the youngest of three sisters, their widowed father tends to be a distant, but it's obvious he loves the girls.  Their mother disappeared on a ski slope when Flavia was but a baby.  It's only one of the many mysterious layers in Flavia's life.  There is Digger, who was her father's, I guess you'd call him a 'dog's body' that lives on the fairly vast run down deLuce estate.  It's 1950's England and the tax man is at the door. 

 

Oh, and bodies have an annoying way of showing up in Flavia's village.  Here, there, and everywhere.  The relationships of her family, and the village are well thought out by the author, and have taken on a life of their own.  A wonderful series.  I highly recommend it. http://www.flaviadeluce.com/

--------------------------------------------------------------------

The Lolita Man by Bill James 5/5

 

Detective, noir...straight forward prose, told with a bit of a different flair.  The story of a murderer/pedophile is told from three perspectives.  The detective that hunts him, the latest targeted young girl who longs to meet the "mystery" man she has seen following her, and the pedophile himself.  Absolutely riveting. 

Highly recommended for fans of detective novels.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The Night Gardner by George Pelecanos 5/5

 

Ahh, now, this is detective noir, American Style...or should I say in the style of the television series, The Wire.  Pelecanos was one of the writers for The Wire

 

An old, unsolved case of three murders of young men, and 20 years later, another body with the same MO turns up.  Is it, could it possibly be the same perpetrator?  This is the story of the police and detectives that find answers however they are able, and their own, very personal stories interwoven.  I don't think you'll see the solution to this one coming.  More twists and turns than the law allows.  A story of redemption, pain, and finally understanding.

There are no easy answers. 

Highly recommended.

Edited by pontalba

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×