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Anakina "Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli" (Cagliari, Italy)

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Dayworld
Dayworld
by Philip Jose Farmer
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant dystopia of other times, 17 July 2016
This review is from: Dayworld (Mass Market Paperback)
I’m not wild about contemporary dystopian novels, but lately I started to appreciate this sub-genre of science fiction when it comes to books of a few decades ago, destined to become classics. The inevitable anachronism of certain elements of the plot gives “Dayworld” by Farmer a special charm and originality that I can hardly see in the most recent stories.
Specifically, one of the topics of this novel is suspended animation, which is described from a different angle than the usual one for which this technology is assumed to be used in the future: to deal with overpopulation. Since there are too many people in the world, it is decided to let them live only one day a week, reducing to one-seventh the number of active individuals on the planet. This crazy idea is the basis of the story of Jeff Caird, a “daybreaker”, i.e. a person who, instead of living one day per week, lives them all, by taking seven different identities. And here immediately a second brilliant element comes up: Caird changes his name, life, but also personality every day. Each of its seven versions is a distinct character, which is also obvious to the reader, and it’s even hard to him to “connect” with his other versions.
As if that was not enough to have a main character who lives on the brink of madness because of the presence of seven personalities in his head, Caird (and the others) is a rebel of the Dayworld system and he ends up rebelling against those who want to overthrow the system, too. And for this reason he risks to be killed, revealing that neither side is really “good”.
The structure of the book, in which the many facets of the protagonist are shown to you one after another, is a perfect mechanism, which still manages to engage the reader, despite the constant changes in point of view.
In addition, although more than thirty years have passed after the original publication of this novel, it holds well the passage of time. Anachronisms are not excessive and sometimes could also be seen as a natural regression.
There are amazing and exciting action scenes, totally unpredictable developments including the ending, which it is impossible to predict.
Overall it’s a really good book, the first in a trilogy that promises to be very enjoyable.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return


Revelation Space
Revelation Space

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but gloomy space opera, 13 April 2016
This review is from: Revelation Space (Kindle Edition)
This is a complex novel and I liked certain aspects of it. One of these is the fact that, despite the main characters are not few, the author still managed to deepen them. It’s easy to create a bond with one of them that allows you to immerse yourself in the story. In my case the character with which I was able to immediately establish a bond was Dan Sylveste, perhaps because it is one of the first to make its appearance in the novel.
The world building is very good, too. Reynolds shows to possess an enormous imagination when creating planets, societies, and unimaginable aliens, like the Pattern Jugglers that, in fact, are living oceans. While creating from nothing a complex universe with very few references to our reality, the author still managed to make it believable. You don’t feel a sense of detachment that could be typical in this kind of stories. In this sense it is of considerable help the beautiful, engaging, and poetic prose.
Finally, the story ends with an open ending better than that of another book I read (Century Rain), as the main characters have a growth that is realized thanks to the ending.
But there are aspects that have prevented me from giving full marks to this book.
While reading, it soon becomes clear that it presupposes certain knowledge by the reader of some aspects of the story, the names, and the characters themselves. At the beginning of the book there is a written glossary for this purpose, but you cannot really think that someone gets to read it, and then maybe they remember it, before they start reading the novel. Thus one has the constant impression of reading the second book in a series, in other words, that a part of the story is missing. Further explanations within the novel would be useful, where they were required to help the reader's understanding.
The same open ending that I mentioned before, even if in itself it is a well-crafted resolution of the events, however, causes me a sense of dissatisfaction that I cannot decipher, perhaps because I didn’t like the role of Sylveste, because he undergoes the events, without being able to do anything to alter them.
In addition, there is pessimistic view of the future, both in the images and tones, which does not fit at all in my comfort zone.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return


The Shadow of Fate: Gemma's Prequel (The Touched Saga Book 1.5)
The Shadow of Fate: Gemma's Prequel (The Touched Saga Book 1.5)
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nice young adult novella to discover a brand new paranormal romance saga, 18 Mar. 2016
I'm not exactly the right target reader for this novella. I have never loved teenage stories, not even when I was a teenager. But I must recognise that this is a text with a certain merit. It's well written, it has got a very good prose. The narrated story recalls vividly many more stories concerning young Americans: the less than innocent games, the skirmishes, the best friend fallen for the heroine but irremediably confined to the friend zone, the heroine who isn't interested in love in real life but lives in the books she reads. They are well-known themes to which the author was able to give a personal touch. The fact it causes in me the same sense of annoyance that I usually feel for this kind of stories means that it works and that the fans of this genre will surely love it.
Being myself a fan of mystery and suspense, I surely preferred the final part of this book, with the cliffhanger (one of my favourite narrative tools) which wants to push the reader towards the first book in the saga.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of The Mentor


Funny Girl
Funny Girl
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Almost true, 18 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Funny Girl (Kindle Edition)
Nick Hornby is an author I tend to return to periodically, although every time I read one of his books I’m partly disappointed by the ending, but with his writing style, his ordinary characters who are original at the same time and his plots pregnant with the typical absurdity that one can only observe in real life, where reality always exceeds imagination, he succeeds in riveting me to the pages of his books as much as only a few other colleagues of his do. Eventually I appreciate the time I spend on reading his novels more than the way the plot develops and ends.
But with “Funny Girl” he has really surprised me.
The way he tells the story of the main character is a perfect blend of reality and fantasy in which it isn’t possible to see the border. For the duration of the book, I wondered if it was a true story, hypothesis corroborated by the many photos accompanying the text.
The illusion is fuelled by the fact that this is sometimes narrated as an account, with the typical distance of an external narrator.
Therefore the credibility of the story becomes total. Hornby abandons the absurd and over the top situations of his previous books, the ones which eventually disappointed me with an ending not matching his brilliant strokes of genius, weaving from beginning to end a balanced storyline, fun but without ever becoming comical or excessive, that leaves you with a sense of fulfilment and makes you close the book with a smile.
How hard I try, I just cannot find any fault with this book.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of The Mentor


Moon Hunter
Moon Hunter
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Hunting for rovers on the Moon, 21 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Moon Hunter (Kindle Edition)
Once again I find myself reading a hard science fiction book set on the moon, which in itself ensures a considerable degree of appreciation from my side. And indeed, this book has many positive aspects.
Morgan builds with precision a complex plot and creates a greatly detailed world. It is clear that the author has been working on this book for a long time, probably several years. The scientific part is quite plausible, at least most of it. The action sequences are so well shown that you feel to be there in the characters’ shoes and live them. And, in fact, the identification in the main characters, especially in some scenes, takes place in a spontaneous and effective way. Finally, the epilogue is pretty intriguing, leaving the reader with an open ending that allows you to fantasise about what might happen next.
Despite all these positive considerations, not only I am not able to give it the fifth star, but at times I was in doubt whether to give even the fourth. The reasons are many. Let’s see them one by one.
First, in the book there is just too much info-dump. I definitely love the books with many details, especially if they concern some topics of personal interest, such as space travel, but here the author goes further. He continuously stops the action to give all the details at once, instead of mixing them with the events. In this way, then when the action resumes, the reader, who had the impression of being dragged into a non-fiction book, does not remember what had happened before, but mostly loses contact with the characters, is detached from the story and in fact their imagination is torn from the world the latter created while reading.
In particular, then, in the first half of the book the author makes a thousand digressions to tell the back-story of totally secondary characters that have no importance in advancing the plot.
In addition, the flashbacks are not well positioned; they aren’t in a logic position or would need a well-defined demarcation to indicate their position in the past. One gets the impression that some scenes were written and then only later fitted together. Many authors do so and there is nothing wrong with this practice, but the reader should never have this impression (whether it corresponds to the truth or not).
The three previous elements (info-dump, digressions and flashbacks’ position) continuously interrupt the main action, making the reading lose its dramatics.
In the final part of the novel, moreover, after the climax, the story drags in a long told (not shown) resolution, which isn’t necessary at all and which damages the book as a whole, also because of the illogical behaviour of the characters and the lack of realism of certain events.
There is to say that my suspension of disbelief has wavered a lot for the numerous times in which the characters are exposed to the vacuum for a long time and survive almost as if nothing had happened. From the way these scenes are shown, it seems that the only problem is the absence of oxygen (and they are already too much resistant to it, especially in scenes of “fatigue”) and, secondly, the void itself (but that looks almost like a minor problem). We never read a mention of problems due to the low temperature in the dark (which instantly freezes) or to the very high temperatures and other effects of direct solar irradiation under sunlight (which, if possible, causes even worse damage).
In general I would say that several cuts would benefit the pace and the ending of the book, perhaps many of these passages would have a better position in some notes in the appendix or even in spin-off short stories (especially, but not limited to, those relating to secondary characters ).
Anyway in the end I decided to give four stars to this book, because you feel there is really a great research work and imagination of the author in it.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return


Cold Trap
Cold Trap
Price: £0.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Moon: fascinating and lethal, 3 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Cold Trap (Kindle Edition)
I’ve always been intrigued by the Moon and the stories set on our natural satellite, so when I came across this novel, which is also very cheap, I couldn’t hold my index finger and in less than a minute it was already in my Kindle. And I can say it was one of the best purchases made in the recent years, concerning books.
The story is set in the near future in the lunar South Pole, where a research base was created in the vicinity of the so-called “cold traps”, i.e. those impact craters whose bottom, being at very high latitudes, doesn’t receive the solar rays since when they exist and in which water ice is trapped, mixed with regolith and other materials, including some rare elements of considerable economic interest.
The author skilfully blends a plausible science, very accurate in the details, with the evocative settings, shown through the senses of the characters, which in turn are well developed and realistic. The impression of being on the lunar ground during the reading is real. And so are the emotions of the protagonists during the daring scenes full of action and suspense. In other words, this book has everything I look for in a hard science fiction novel.
I read it in a few days and I was so taken by the story that I was looking forward to getting in bed with my Kindle to continue reading.
The story ends with a great plot twist, although I had expected it, but I liked even the fact of seeing it arrive because of its perfect logic within the plot and the smart way in which the author has orchestrated the various clues that have led me to predict it.
If I have to indicate a defect, but it isn’t going to affect my final judgment, I must say that I would have preferred that the flashbacks related to the character of Moochy were shorter and interspersed with the main line of the narrative. Instead they are placed practically in the middle of story, breaking completely the action to tell the story of Moochy, threatening to make you forget the details of the main plot and pushing the plot itself away from science fiction.
Despite this, I can only judge it as a great debut novel.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return


Green Mars
Green Mars
by Kim Stanley Robinson
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars So much politics so much Mars, but unrealistic characters, 20 Aug. 2015
This review is from: Green Mars (Paperback)
After reading, a few years ago, the first book in the trilogy, “Red Mars”, I finally found the courage to try my hand at reading “Green Mars”. I’m sorry to say that, in my opinion, it doesn’t stand comparison with the first one.
As always Robinson is very good in world building, i.e. he can create an imaginary future on Mars that is very well detailed and credible, thanks to his vast imagination and a clear thorough research work. And he does so with a wonderful prose. There are really beautiful passages that deserve to be read regardless of everything else.
Compared to “Red Mars” I read it all in the sense that I have not skipped some parts as had happened to me in the first book (the theoretical disquisitions of psychology, for instance). Since such a book that also has an informative purpose tends to be plagued by some info-dump, I’ve never felt like this, perhaps because the author succeeded in better spread his arguments throughout the text without overloading certain parts, but also because these are topics that I found most interesting and related to the story. But I admit that, although I have read everything, I occasionally got distracted in some passages where in fact nothing happened, but I never lost the thread of the plot.
Nevertheless I could not make myself like this book. The reason is simple: I haven’t identified myself with any character. There wasn’t one that has caught me, and at the same time has maintained a consistent role throughout the book, as had happened with Frank in “Red Mars”. In this sense the enormous leaps in time didn’t help; as soon as I found an interesting character (for example, Arthur), the part abruptly ended and from that point on it became negligible in the economy of story.
The problem is that this book is not made by the characters and neither by a well-crafted plot, but it is an attempt to reconstruct a possible socio-political situation of the future on Mars. The characters, instead of creating the story, are just puppets, as if it were a non-fiction book.
Within the individual parts, moreover, the pace is so slow that you get the impression that nothing happens, and when something happens, it is reported in a manner so as to seem a detached account. Then, moving to the next part, you discover that so much time has passed and what had a prominent role in the early part becomes negligible now. As a reader you feel a bit betrayed by this way of telling, as you tend to project your own feelings, expectations and emotions on the characters and events, only to discover that it all happened without you to know and doesn’t matter anymore.
But let’s get to some aspects of the plot.
In the first book there was the possibility of prolonging the life of the protagonists with some treatments. It is a narrative device that allows to use the same characters for a longer period of time. The problem is that in this second book you find out that the treatments let them live indefinitely. The very idea that the characters don’t have some time reference to measure their life is quite disturbing and contributes to put some distance from them. One wonders what the purpose of life of these people is.
In reading this book it would seem that all the characters are only interested in the situation of Mars (terraforming, independence from the Earth), i.e. everything turns around some big issues, so that it seems that they don’t have a real life, made of small things. The small elements that define the humanity of people are missing. And, when there are some, they are narrated in a didactic way, as if they were secondary. But for real people their own purposes are all that really counts. As much as one can devote to a cause, this cause must come after, otherwise the person becomes a potentially dangerous fanatic. Sure, there are fanatics on Mars too (and indeed some are described as such), but it is not credible that all are like this. In fact, the characters don’t seem real people.
As for the scientific aspect, despite the obvious research done by the author, I have the impression that the process of terraforming described happens a bit too fast and the conditions to accelerate it are too easily created. But this is a minor problem, since it could be a license taken by the author to bring the plot in a certain direction. Besides, it is a trilogy about the terraforming of Mars. It must be said that the partially terraformed Mars, described in this book, in my eyes has lost the charm it had in the first book.
Finally, I hadn’t appreciated the catastrophism at the end of the previous book. We get something similar here, but not as much dramatic. But, while in “Red Mars” the catastrophic event determined the climax of the story and then had his narrative purpose, the tension in “Green Mars” remains low for most of the novel and fails towards the ending to increase as it should.
In short, once I reached the last page, the only word that came to my mind, exhausted by a heavy reading to say the least, was: finally!

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return


A Case of Need: A Novel
A Case of Need: A Novel
Price: £5.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another pearl from the master, 19 Jun. 2015
Crichton manages to amaze me, always. Whether it’s one of his last books (also posthumous) or one of those written decades ago, his writing and the way he deals with the themes of his novels are always damn topical. Although his way of creating a novel is always to find a topic that is at the centre of the work, and then build a story around it, his ability to address different topics but always in a very thorough way is something unique I have never found in any other author so far.
But let’s speak about this novel, “A case of need”, written by Crichton during the Easter holidays (he says it in the introduction) when he was still a medical student, published under a pseudonym and become a bestseller to the surprise of the author himself.
The novel itself is very technical and the fact that Crichton at the time was studying medicine is obvious. Its being so technical, for me, is a great value. Despite being written forty-seven years ago (!) and many things have changed in the field of medicine, it is still very topical and provides an opportunity for an out of the line reflection on a controversial topic such as abortion.
The story is about a doctor who was arrested because they thought that a woman had died because of an abortion performed by the former, when this practice was still illegal in most of the United States. The main character is a friend of the arrested doctor who struggles to uncover the truth. We follow him in his investigations and soon, although the structure of the thriller is elaborate and well-built, we eventually get passionate to the medical and moral implications, which are then examined in the accurate notes reported in the appendix.
One thing I appreciate about Crichton is his ability to ask the questions without imposing his point of view to the reader (as opposed to what happens with many other authors that address ethical issues). He exposes the facts, the various points of view and possible developments, and let you to reason on them and form your own opinion on the subject, without influencing you. All of his books are food for thought and enrich your mind, as well as entertain you.
I conclude by saying that I was particularly amazed when I noticed in various sites that this novel has a quite low review rating, just because readers complain that the medical argument is a bit bulky. Such a thing is at least bizarre. Sure, I understand that it isn’t easy for those without a biomedical education to follow all the details of the plot, but then it is a medical thriller. What do they expect?

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return


To Kill a Mockingbird (Harperperennial Modern Classics)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harperperennial Modern Classics)

4.0 out of 5 stars Simple, short, deep, 19 Jun. 2015
It is always difficult to judge a book that is considered an undisputed masterpiece of modern fiction, a modern classic. I don’t even try. I just want to try to summarize in a few words what this book left to me.
It’s surprising that a book of fifty years ago “sounds” so modern while reading, especially if the events described are from decades earlier. It’s a quite short and uncomplicated novel that you can read and enjoy at any age.
The narrative voice is that of a little girl, and as she tells us the trivial facts of her daily life, she assists to events bigger than her, but she deals them with the simple wisdom and innocence that only a child can have. And so a racist incident in the thirties of the twentieth century, a racism that was still a sad reality in the time of the writing of the novel and that unfortunately partly still is today, becomes an opportunity to portray an overview of the southern United States, where things happen as everybody expects and where the little light of an almost heroic gesture at the end of the novel illuminates a resigned and disillusioned reality.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return


Cold Fire
Cold Fire
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Believable characters and beautiful prose, 19 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Cold Fire (Kindle Edition)
I rarely read supernatural thrillers, because I have a hard time finding these kinds of stories credible. So I was pretty sceptical as I approached this book. I read the beginning in which the protagonist, Jim Ironheart, is driven by a voice in his head to leave his city to prevent that a certain event takes place. It isn’t clear exactly what it is about.
What won me and pushed me to go on was the author’s style and his beautiful prose. Koontz with a few words takes you inside the mind of the character and does so with a very suggestive language. It works so well that I decided to put aside my distrust of the paranormal theme and continue reading.
And I haven’t regretted it at all.
Although the paranormal element is central in this novel, the way it is told, the empathy that the author manages to create towards the two main characters (Jim and Holly) and being able to live their emotions firsthand shifts the focus from the supernatural to the characters themselves. The novel becomes their story. The ambiguity of Jim (and ambiguous characters are always my favourite) and the fears of Holly catch you. And that’s what makes the difference, because, when you create a bond with the characters, they become credible and with them everything that surrounds them, resulting in a solid suspension of disbelief.
Faced with this, had the book treated any other theme, it would still be able to conquer me.
In fact, although the events are impossible in real life, which usually makes me lose interest in the story (unless it is science fiction), this has not happened with this book, because the way they are presented makes them perfectly logical.
Finally, to conclude in the best way this novel, there is the open ending that makes you smile imagining what might happen next.

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return


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