Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. This page lists all the books that I have finished reading in between 2001 and 2009.
This page is built leveraging the goodreads API.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War cover
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
by Max Brooks (2006)
My review: The novel is a collection of individual accounts, where the narrator is an agent of the United Nations Postwar Commission ten years after a fictional Zombie War. The accounts record a decade-long desperate war against the zombie plague, as experienced by people of various nationalities. The personal accounts also describe the social, political, religious and environmental changes that resulted from the war.
The book is quite remarkable not only for the originality of the storytelling, but for the deep understanding of different cultures and human psychology. (★★★★★)
Started: Nov 30 2013 Finished: Dec 19 2013
In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Prose cover
In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Prose
by Alice Walker (2011)
Publisher review: In this, her first collection of nonfiction, Alice Walker speaks out as a black woman, writer, mother, and feminist in thirty-six pieces ranging from the personal to the political. Walker explores the theories and practices of feminism, incorporating what she calls the “womanist” tradition of African American women. Among the contents are essays about other writers, accounts of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the antinuclear movement of the 1980s, and a vivid memoir of a scarring childhood injury and her daughter’s healing words.
My rating: ★★★
Started: Nov 15 2013 Finished: Nov 30 2013
Fahrenheit 451 cover
Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury (2013)
Publisher review: The terrifyingly prophetic novel of a post-literate future. Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books. The classic dystopian novel of a post-literate future, Fahrenheit 451 stands alongside Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity. Bradbury’s powerful and poetic prose combines with uncanny insight into the potential of technology to create a novel which, decades on from first publication, still has the power to dazzle and shock. --back cover
My rating: ★★★★
Started: Nov 03 2013 Finished: Nov 15 2013
This Perfect Day cover
This Perfect Day
by Ira Levin
My review: Ira Levin's dystopian novels is set in a seemingly perfect global society. Uniformity is the defining feature, there is only one language and all ethnic groups have been eugenically merged into one race called The Family. The world is ruled by a central computer called UniComp that has been programmed to keep every single human on the surface of the earth in check. People are continually drugged by means of regular injections so that they can never realize their potential as human beings, but will remain satisfied and cooperative. They are told where to live, when to eat, whom to marry, when to reproduce. Even the basic facts of nature are subject to the UniComp's will. Men do not grow facial hair, women do not develop breasts, and it only rains at night. But not everybody is willing to accept this. With a vision as frightening as any in the history of the science fiction genre, This Perfect Day is one of Ira Levin`s most haunting novels. (★★★★★)
Started: Oct 29 2013 Finished: Nov 03 2013
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) cover
A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)
by George R.R. Martin (2003)
Publisher review: A STORM OF SWORDS Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey, of House Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, the victim of the jealous sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. But young Robb, of House Stark, still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Robb plots against his despised Lannister enemies, even as they hold his sister hostage at King’s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. . . . But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is a horde of mythical Others--a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords. . . .
My rating: ★★★★★
Started: Sep 08 2013 Finished: Oct 29 2013
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls cover
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls
by David Sedaris
My review: This is by far the best book by David Sedaris. I have read many of Sedaris' books before, and while I enjoyed reading them, I often found them jarring. Even if they always made me laugh, I was always left with a bitter taste in my mouth. Let's explore diabetes with owls was quite different in that respect: I laughed and laughed, and there was no bitter aftertaste when I was done. The book touches many of Sedaris' signatures themes like family and life abroad, and some new ones, including politics. Not all the stories in the book are great, but some (including "Obama!!!!", "#2 to go", and "The happy place") are incredibly funny, definitely not PC, masterpieces. (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 01 2013 Finished: Sep 08 2013
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1) cover
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)
by Cassandra Clare (2009)
My review: The mortal instrument is a popular fantasy book series by American author Judith Rumelt (better known by her pen name Cassandra Clare). This is the book that started it all. The main character, Clary Fray, a 15 years old New York City girl, witness a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Things gets strange when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary. The murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons.
The story is entertaining, and it mixes some of the themes of Harry Potter with the teen supernatural romance that made books like Twilight, and the "True Blood" Sookie Stackhouse series popular. For an in-depth guide to this book series please refer to: http://goo.gl/036Wwg (★★★★)
Started: Aug 18 2013 Finished: Aug 31 2013
The Citadel cover
The Citadel
by Richard A. Knaak (2012)
My review: The citadel is one of the many book set in the Dragonlance world, but it is, by far, one of the best. It has been year since I have enjoyed a book so much, or stayed up so late to read "just one more chapter... or two". The story is so compelling, the plot so fast-paced and thrilling, that is impossible to stop reading.
The story starts after the end of the big war, when an evil wizard lears the secret of creating "citadels", i.e. castles floating in the air. He uses them to gain power over the world of Krynn. A red-robed magic-user, a cleric, a warrior, and a little kender are the only hope against him. (★★★★★)
Started: Aug 12 2013 Finished: Aug 17 2013
The Dragons of Krynn (Dragonlance Dragons, #1) cover
The Dragons of Krynn (Dragonlance Dragons, #1)
by Margaret Weis
My review: The dragons of Krynn is a collection of short stories written by many of of the writers of the first Dragonlance Tales book series, including Douglas Niles, Richard A. Knaak, Nancy Varian Berberick, and many others. Particularly remarkable is the short story “Kaz and the dragon”, featuring one of the most beloved characters of Krynn (learn more about him on my blog post: http://goo.gl/jZreZ6). (★★★)
Started: Jul 27 2013 Finished: Aug 12 2013
Reavers of the Blood Sea: The Chaos War, Book 4 cover
Reavers of the Blood Sea: The Chaos War, Book 4
by Richard A. Knaak (2012)
My review: In this fifth instalment of Knaak's minotaurs saga (see http://goo.gl/jZreZ6 for more info on it) we follow the adventures of Aryx, a descendent of the famous Kaz (that was the main character of the previous books). Aryx and the whole minotaur nation find themselves playing a major role in the war against Chaos, fighting alongside Gods for the future of Krynn. (★★★★)
Started: Jul 22 2013 Finished: Jul 27 2013
The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War, #2) cover
The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War, #2)
by John Scalzi
Publisher review: The Ghost Brigades are the Special Forces of the Colonial Defense Forces, elite troops created from the DNA of the dead and turned into the perfect soldiers for the CDF's toughest operations. They’re young, they’re fast and strong, and they’re totally without normal human qualms. The universe is a dangerous place for humanity—and it's about to become far more dangerous. Three races that humans have clashed with before have allied to halt our expansion into space. Their linchpin: the turncoat military scientist Charles Boutin, who knows the CDF’s biggest military secrets. To prevail, the CDF must find out why Boutin did what he did. Jared Dirac is the only human who can provide answers -- a superhuman hybrid, created from Boutin's DNA, Jared’s brain should be able to access Boutin's electronic memories. But when the memory transplant appears to fail, Jared is given to the Ghost Brigades. At first, Jared is a perfect soldier, but as Boutin’s memories slowly surface, Jared begins to intuit the reason’s for Boutin’s betrayal. As Jared desperately hunts for his "father," he must also come to grips with his own choices. Time is running out: The alliance is preparing its offensive, and some of them plan worse things than humanity’s mere military defeat…
My rating: ★★★★★
Started: Jul 09 2013 Finished: Jul 10 2013
Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle, #1) cover
Howl’s Moving Castle (Howl’s Moving Castle, #1)
by Diana Wynne Jones (2001)
My review: The first book of the Howl's castle series (see http://goo.gl/fCB9FO for more details on the series) was published back in 1986. Despite being a runner up for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award in Fiction and being named one of that year's ALA Notable Books for Children, the book was not very successful at first. Over the years its popularity grew and in 2006 it won the annual Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association, recognizing the best children's book published twenty years earlier that did not win a major award. Allusion to the mythical bird phoenix, which is reborn from its ashes, suggests the winning book's rise from obscurity. This first book features Sophie, a young girl living in Ingary, a land in which anything could happen, and often does - especially when the Witch of the Waste is involved. Which is often. Sophie works at an hat shop, which proves most unadventurous, until the Witch of the Waste comes in to buy a bonnet one morning, but is not pleased, and turns Sophie into an old lady. (★★★★)
Started: Jun 29 2013 Finished: Jul 06 2013
Fox 8 cover
Fox 8
by George Saunders (2013)
My review: Fox 8 has always been known as the daydreamer in his pack, the one his fellow foxes regarded with a knowing snort and a roll of the eyes. That is, until Fox 8 develops a unique skill: he teaches himself to speak Yuman by hiding in the bushes outside a house and listening to children’s bedtime stories. The power of language fuels his abundant curiosity about people—even after danjer arrives in the form of a new shopping mall that cuts off his food supply, sending Fox 8 on a harrowing quest to help save his pack. Told with his distinctive blend of humor and pathos, Fox 8 showcases the extraordinary imaginative talents of George Saunders, whom the New York Times called the writer for our time. (Goodreads review) (★★★★)
Started: Jul 06 2013 Finished: Jul 06 2013
Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1) cover
Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1)
by John Scalzi (2007)
Publisher review: John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army. The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce-- and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding. Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets. John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine--and what he will become is far stranger.
My rating: ★★★★★
Started: Jun 23 2013 Finished: Jun 29 2013
A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2) cover
A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)
by George R.R. Martin (2003)
My review: George Martin is an incredible writer, able to create extremely complex worlds, characters, and plots. This second chapter of the "A song of Ice and Fire" saga is even harder to put down than the first, and the plot is nothing short of epic. (★★★★)
Started: Apr 09 2013 Finished: Jun 23 2013
The Testament of Mary cover
The Testament of Mary
by Colm Tóibín
My review: Mary in this book is not the meek, docile and obedient woman that traditional misogynistic iconography portrays. In "The testament of Mary" she is a tragically human heroin, torn by the sense of guilt for abandoning her son on the cross to save herself, blaming herself for not keeping her son to the bad influence of a "group of misfits he gathered around him". Whatever your religious beliefs are, this alternative version of the new testament succeeds in creating an incredibly memorable, novel, and deeply human portrait of one of the cultural icons of the Western world. (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 06 2013 Finished: Apr 07 2013
Land of the Minotaurs (Dragonlance: Lost Histories, #4) cover
Land of the Minotaurs (Dragonlance: Lost Histories, #4)
by Richard A. Knaak
My review: Land of the Minotaurs is the third book of the adventure of Kaz (see: http://goo.gl/jZreZ6). In this book follows Kaz is trying to settle down with his family, but he is forced back into action, and back to his homeland, Nethosak, to confront an ancient evil. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 20 2013 Finished: Apr 04 2013
Kaz the Minotaur (Dragonlance: Heroes, #4; Heroes II, #1) cover
Kaz the Minotaur (Dragonlance: Heroes, #4; Heroes II, #1)
by Richard A. Knaak
My review: Kaz the minotaur is the sequel of the Legend of Huma. This second book follows the adventure of Kaz after the last dragonwar. Kaz is trying to settle down, but he is forced back into action to confront a familiar evil from the past. More about the Dragonlance Minotaurs series here: http://goo.gl/jZreZ6 (★★★★)
Started: Mar 03 2013 Finished: Mar 19 2013
The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2) cover
The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)
by Patrick Rothfuss
My review: I liked the first book of the "The Kingkiller Chronicle" trilogy, but I felt in love with this second one: it is an order of magnitude better. The story is entertaining, but it's the characters development and description that really set this book apart. This is really a great book, and I strongly recommend it to everybody, even for whose of you that are not into fantasy. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 29 2013 Finished: Mar 01 2013
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner #1) cover
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner #1)
by Philip K. Dick (2007)
My review: This is the story of Rick Deckard, an escaped android bounty hunter, living in a dystopian post-apocalyptic future. Rick is facing one of the hardest assignments in his life: tracking and terminating six nexus-6, the most advanced and sophisticated android model built so far. One of the main and more interesting themes of the book is the reflection of what means to be human: as androids become indistinguishable from us, to the point where people start to suspect they may be androids with implanted memories, what set humans apart? The book raises many of the same questions that were raised back in the 19th century by Mary Shelley, but it comes up with quite different conclusions. A strongly recommended read, even for people that are not big fan of Science Fiction. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 26 2013 Finished: Jan 29 2013
Why We Can't Wait cover
Why We Can't Wait
by Martin Luther King Jr.
My review: I decided to celebrate Martin Luther King Day reading one of his most famous books. The book has an incredible historical significance, it details the progress made by the civil rights movement during the 60s. It's incredible to see how things finally suddenly started changing, never fast enough, for the better. It is so insightful to read about the struggles, the dreams and the vision of one of the fathers of the movement. Some of the topics touched in the book are still incredibly relevant today: for example the role of affirmative action and social incentives as a way to level the field, to enable every American to have the same opportunities to achieve his/her dreams.
It was heart warming to read this book while listening to President Obama inaugural speech: even if we still have a long way ahead of us, even if we are dragging our feet and progress is slow, the speech gave me hope that a more just world is possible and a little bit closer each day. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 21 2013 Finished: Jan 25 2013
The Legend of Huma (Dragonlance: Heroes, #1) cover
The Legend of Huma (Dragonlance: Heroes, #1)
by Richard A. Knaak
My review: I read this book translated in Italian when I was a young teenager, and I remember liking it. More recently I read other books from Knaak, and I liked them all. Because of it, I decided to read the book again, this time in English. I did not remember the plot at all, and I really enjoyed the book as if I had never read it before.
This is the story of Huma, the legendary hero often mentioned in the Dragonlance Chronicle trilogy. The story is relatively simple, but it is never boring, and the characters are quite interesting. The only disappointment is the love story between the hero and the silver dragon: what should have been a moving and heart breaking love story is instead quite sterile and un-moving. Despite the shortcoming, it is quite an enjoyable book that I strongly recommend it to all Dragonlance fans.
This is also the first volume of Knaak's Dragonlance Minotaurs series (see: http://goo.gl/jZreZ6 for details). (★★★★)
Number of times I read it: 2
Started (first time): Jan 12 2013 Finished (first time): Jan 20 2013
The Hobbit (The Lord of the Rings, #0) cover
The Hobbit (The Lord of the Rings, #0)
by J.R.R. Tolkien (2002)
My review: I read The Hobbit translated in Italian multiple times when I was a young teenager. I recently decided to read the original English version. The book is something between a fairy tale and a fantasy novel, and it is quite enjoyable. It is quite fascinating to get a glimpse of how Tolkien and the Monarchic British society of the time thought, in the mist of deep social changes between the two world wars. Greed is perceived as the root of all evils, and all characters from all different races and social castes struggles with it. At the same time it appears that the book unselfish heroes, the only one able to overcame greed are all noblemen (e.g. the Bard), while local leaders belonging to the merchants and traders group, always end up putting their self-interest ahead of the one of the people that elected them. (★★★★)
Number of times I read it: 4
Started (first time): Dec 27 2012 Finished (first time): Jan 11 2013
Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse, #4) cover
Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse, #4)
by Charlaine Harris
My review: I really like the TV series inspired by this book series, and I keep coming back to read "just one more" of them. Every time I find myself regretting it. The books are indeed entertaining, there is no denying it, but their content often disturbs me. Another goodreads member completely captured my opinion of this book: Throughout, the text is offensive to women, people with some understanding of American history, and pretty much anyone else [...].
I found quite disturbing the attitude of the main character (Sookie). She is quick to judge others (e.g. her coworker for having gone through multiple husband or gays that are "too gay" or wear "too much cologne"), while hypocritically behaving in a way that does not meet these standards (e.g. she is in love with three men at once, and she dances sensually with a female friend). (★)
Started: Dec 25 2012 Finished: Dec 27 2012
The Black Gryphon (Mage Wars #1) cover
The Black Gryphon (Mage Wars #1)
by Mercedes Lackey (1995)
My review: I read the previous books set in the Valdemar universe, and I enjoyed them, but "the black gryphon" is definitelly better than everything I have read previously. The previous books suffered from having a very episodic structure, they often felt like a collection of short stories set in the same universe. This is definitelly not the case for the first volume of the Mage Wars trilogy. The plot is well constructed and developed, and the book is quite hard to put down. The book can be read alone without any need to read the previous ones, and I recommend it to all fantasy lovers. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 10 2012 Finished: Dec 23 2012
Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley cover
Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley
by Robert Sheckley
My review: Store of the worlds is a collection of short sci-fi stories by Robert Shekley. Some of the first stories are entertaining and memorable, full of interesting plot twists. After reading a bunch, the stories starts feeling less original, and the twists a little predictable. To sum it up: I did not regret reading this book, I got enough entertainment out of it to justify the time investment, but I won't recommend it to anyone. (★★★)
Started: Nov 25 2012 Finished: Dec 09 2012
Mary Ann in Autumn (Tales of the City, #8) cover
Mary Ann in Autumn (Tales of the City, #8)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: Twenty years have passed since Mary Ann Singleton left her husband and child in San Francisco to pursue her dream of a television career in New York. Now, a pair of personal calamities has driven her back to the city of her youth and into the arms of her oldest friend, Michael "Mouse" Tolliver, a gay gardener happily ensconced with his much-younger husband.
Mary Ann finds temporary refuge in the couple's backyard cottage, where, at the unnerving age of 57, she licks her wounds and takes stock of her mistakes. Soon, with the help of Facebook and a few old friends, she begins to reengage with life, only to confront fresh terrors when her speckled past comes back to haunt her in a way she could never have imagined. Over three decades in the making, Armistead Maupin's legendary Tales of the City series rolls into a new age, still sassy, irreverent and curious, and still exploring the boundaries of the human experience with insight, compassion and mordant wit. (★★★★★)
Started: Nov 16 2012 Finished: Nov 25 2012
How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You cover
How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You
by The Oatmeal
My review: I have always been a big fan of Matthew Inman (a.k.a. the oatmeal). This book collects old and new stories surrounding one of Matthew arc-enemies: the cats. (★★★★★)
Started: Nov 24 2012 Finished: Nov 25 2012
Rosemary's Baby cover
Rosemary's Baby
by Ira Levin (2011)
My review: Few years ago I watched Roman Polański's movie adaptation of this book, and I remember enjoying it despite the fact that the movie is quite old. I was a little hesitant to read the book, because I knew already the plot, and I was afraid I was not going to enjoy it as much. Well I was wrong: I loved the book. I had actually an hard time put it down. Ira Levin was an adroit writer, and Rosemary's Baby is one of the most enjoyable "supernatural" fiction books I have ever read. I strongly recommend it even if you are not into horror and supernatural fiction. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 13 2012 Finished: Nov 16 2012
The Color Purple cover
The Color Purple
by Alice Walker (1985)
My review: A deeply moving book, describing the lives of African American in the South of the United States in the 30s. The book touches many dramatic themes, such as domestic violence, incest, racism, sexism, gender roles, faith.
The book is the story of Celie, a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to "Mister", a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister's letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self. (★★★★★)
Started: Oct 25 2012 Finished: Nov 12 2012
Necromancer (Necromancer, #0.5) cover
Necromancer (Necromancer, #0.5)
by Lish McBride (2011)
My review: With the advent of eBooks, some authors started releasing free short eBook prequels to their books to try to lure readers into buying their product. This is a good example of this recently established trend. I enjoyed reading this story, where the various character are described with great sensitivity. I am considering to read the rest of the series. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 03 2012 Finished: Nov 03 2012
The Penultimate Truth cover
The Penultimate Truth
by Philip K. Dick
My review: I have read only few books by Philip Dick, and all of them were incredibly modern both in the themes they discuss, and in their form. The Penultimate Truth has a very classic structure, it could almost pass for an Isaac Asimov book in that respect. The themes are very modern though: the story is set in a far dystopian post world war III world, where people are fed fabricated Truth via news and television to keep the entire world in the hands of lucky few. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 20 2012 Finished: Oct 25 2012
Cloud Atlas cover
Cloud Atlas
by David Mitchell (2004)
My review: I do not know why this book touched me so deeply, but it really did.
In Cloud Atlas Humans are Devils, always prone to enslave, kill, and slaughter. Humans are always ready to take away the dignity of others in the name of a Natural Order that determines that people of color, homosexuals, old, cloned people, or members of other tribes are not even worthy of the title of "men". This is demonstrated over and over 6 times in the 6 different stories (the number 6 recurrence in the book is significant).
But the Humans of Cloud Atlas are also Divine, because over and over, experiencing and witnessing small acts of kindness and incredible acts of self-sacrifice they come to realize that all these Natural Order boundaries are just human made conventions. Our lives are the result of all our choices, all our encounters. We are all bound together, each little act of kindness, each mistake goes beyond our lifetime and affects all humanity and the future. And so it is that a little act of kindness on a San Francisco bound ship will ultimately bring salvation to the Human race in a very far future.
Selected quotes:
Our lives and our choices, each encounter, suggest a new potential direction. Yesterday my life was headed in one direction. Today, it is headed in another. Fear, belief, love, phenomena that determined the course of our lives. These forces begin long before we are born and continue long after we perish. Yesterday, I believe I would have never have done what I did today. I feel like something important has happened to me. Is this possible?
Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future. (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 30 2012 Finished: Oct 20 2012
Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse, #3) cover
Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse, #3)
by Charlaine Harris (2006)
My review: Another goodreads member completelly captured my opinion of this book: Throughout, the text is offensive to women, people with some understanding of American history, and pretty much anyone else [...].
The plot may be fun and entertaining, but I was disturbed over and over by the content of the book. I was disturbed by the fact that Sookie still consider Bill as a viable partner after he left her without a word for an ex, and after he physically assaulted and raped her. I was disturbed by the fact that she could kiss and lust for three men in the space of a day, but still be critical of a gay kiss (Sookie claims she is just against public displays of affection, but I am left wondering, would she have said anything if the couple was not gay?), or disparaging of a gay character because "he wears a way too much cologne". Last but not least, I found quite disturbing to read racist statements like the following: "Somehow, it had never crossed my mind—I guess since I'm an American—that the vampires who had snatched Bill might be resorting to evil means to get him to talk". (★)
Started: Sep 20 2012 Finished: Sep 30 2012
Michael Tolliver Lives (Tales of the City, #7) cover
Michael Tolliver Lives (Tales of the City, #7)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: Armistead Maupin wrote this book 20 years after completing the last book of the classic "Tales of the city" series, and, as the different color of the cover suggests, it stands apart on its own. While the settings and the characters are the same ones we felt in love with, a quarter of a century is passed, and things changed a lot in all those years. Anna Madrigal is now in her 80s, Michael Mouse Tolliver in his 60s. Some of the characters are deceased, and Shanna is now an adult. The different (time) settings, and the aged characters completely change the feel of the novel. The plot is relatively simple, it does not feature mysterious sects leaders or cultists (as some of the previous books of the series did), but it focuses instead on the relationship between the characters, on their evolution, on their feelings. As any Maupin's reader already knows, the author has an uncanny ability in creating characters we can't help but falling in love with. They feel so real and alive that they slowly became members of our family, friends, people we can relate with. This is even more true for this last novel: despite a relatively simpler plot line, the book is by date, Maupin's most powerful and touching book. This is achieved leveraging on the adroitly built intimacy with the characters, and not via a convoluted and epic plot line.
Many of the themes of the book (including inter-generation marriage, AIDS, the pain caused by the separation from your grown up kid moving out of home) are quite interesting and worth discussing, but nothing make this book worth reading more than the shiver I felt listening to Anna talking to Mouse on the top of the De Young tower, or the tears in my eyes at the end of the book. Yes, the themes touched in the book are interesting and worth discussing, but at the end, the characters are the ones we all fall in love with, and we laugh, and cry, and grow up with. The message is important, but the characters are family. (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 15 2012 Finished: Sep 19 2012
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) cover
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)
by Patrick Rothfuss (2007)
My review: An interesting and hard to put down book, The name of the Wind is the story of Kvothe, a gifted kid that grew to be one of the most powerful wizards. The story is told by an older Kvothe himself, to a Chronicle that traveled far and wide to find him. Even if some of the plot elements (e.g. a gifted young kid finding his way to a school of magic) may seem similar to the Harry Potter saga, this book could not be more different. The life of Kvothe is harsh, and here the focus is given to the struggle to survive under adversities, as a homeless youth or a penniless student. There are only two small issues with the book. First the main story is weak and as a result the plot feels episodic. Second, I feel like the stage is not set properly for some of the events. Despite these little issues I quite enjoyed the book and I am looking forward the next volume of the trilogy. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 21 2012 Finished: Sep 15 2012
The Best American Short Stories 2011 cover
The Best American Short Stories 2011
by Geraldine Brooks
My review: I love Geraldine Brooks books and I was googling her to see if she had published any new book. I was disappointed to discover she hadn't, but I was intrigued to discover that she was the 2011 editor for "The Best American Short Stories" series. I decided to give it a try. The stories have very little in common. They span multiple literary genres and narrative styles. Some of them are powerful, poetic, and touching: a good example is "Housewifely Arts" by Megan Mayhew Bergman, focusing on the relationship of a mother and her aging mother, and the longing of the first after the death of the second. Some others are able to shake you to the core: see for example "Free fruit for young widows" by Nathan Englander, describing the life of a Jewish Death Camp survivor, or "ID" by Joyce Carol Oates's, the story of a young teenage girl, growing up with a violent father that almost disfigured her, and her prostitute mother. Some features quite interesting experimental narrative styles, while others failed to capture my attention. (★★★)
Started: Aug 05 2012 Finished: Aug 27 2012
Total Recall cover
Total Recall
by Philip K. Dick (2012)
My review: A fun short story, easy to read in a single sitting to kill the time. The story is interesting, but it is quite surprising they managed to get a full movie out of it. (★★★)
Started: Aug 05 2012 Finished: Aug 05 2012
Life of Pi cover
Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
My review: It's quite hard to review this book without giving away any spoiler, and this is a great book that does not deserve to be spoiled. I still remember seeing it in the "reccomended" section of my local bookstore, picking it up with interest and putting it down thinking "what? a story about somebody being stuck on a boat? It has to be boring". Oh I was wrong! The book is actually quite captivating, so fascinating that you find yourself still reading it in the middle of the night thinking "it's late, but let's read another one of these short chapters". As the story progresses, I found myself captivated, and at its conclusion deeply shaken and shocked. (★★★★★)
Started: Jul 29 2012 Finished: Aug 04 2012
The Night Eternal (The Strain Trilogy, #3) cover
The Night Eternal (The Strain Trilogy, #3)
by Guillermo del Toro (2011)
My review: I found the previous two volumes of the strain trilogy a little disappointing: despite being entertaining, those two books felt like a collection of almost unconnected scenes from which a relatively thin plot emerged. Things change in this third volume: many of the mysteries are revealed, the action is more and more fast paced. This volume is impossible to put down, and a continuous adrenaline rush. I would have never recommended the series based upon the first two volumes, but the third one makes up for the shortcoming of the others. (★★★★)
Started: Jul 25 2012 Finished: Jul 28 2012
The Diary of Darcy J. Rhone (Darcy & Rachel, #0.5) cover
The Diary of Darcy J. Rhone (Darcy & Rachel, #0.5)
by Emily Giffin
My review: This short story was available for free on the Google play store, and I decided to give it a try even if I did not know what type of books Emily Griffin writes. It turns out she writes romantic comedies, that it is definitely not what I usually enjoy reading. The main character is Darcy, a gorgeous and shallow girl. The author tries (and sometimes succeed) to make the reader smile focusing on Darcy's shortcomings, on her inappropriate words and actions. Unfortunately I can see many of these as tragically real and typical in teenagers (of any generation), and that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The smile dies on my lips when I heard jokes on real issues like teen bulimia or STDs. (★★)
Started: Jul 28 2012 Finished: Jul 28 2012
Naked cover
Naked
by David Sedaris
My review: This book is a mixed bag of short typical Sedaris' stories. While some of them are hilarious, some are quite dull and boring (I was quite surprised by that, I previously enjoyed his other books). One of the stories is quite different from anything I ever read from the author. It narrates the last days of the author mother, soon to die of cancer. It is one of his best, touching and powerful. It may be not as funny as many of his others one, but it will bring tears to your eyes. That single little story alone, makes the book worth reading. (★★★)
Started: Jul 06 2012 Finished: Jul 19 2012
Sea of Swords (Forgotten Realms: Paths of Darkness, #4; Legend of Drizzt, #13) cover
Sea of Swords (Forgotten Realms: Paths of Darkness, #4; Legend of Drizzt, #13)
by R.A. Salvatore
My review: While Wulfgar slowly came to terms with his past and with his new life, Drizzt has to face a new enemy from his past. It is a simple story, but the characters are starting to get more rounded and interesting. (★★★★)
Started: Jun 01 2012 Finished: Jul 05 2012
Amber and Blood (Dragonlance: The Dark Disciple, #3) cover
Amber and Blood (Dragonlance: The Dark Disciple, #3)
by Margaret Weis
My review: The characters introduced in the first two volume of the Dark Disciple trilogy return in Amber and Blood. Now that the divine nature of Mina is revealed, the gods of light and darkness try to get her to their side. This is the worst volume of the trilogy, it is quite dull, and it does not even seem written by the same author of the previous two volumes. (★★)
Started: Jun 01 2012 Finished: Jun 20 2012
A Scanner Darkly cover
A Scanner Darkly
by Philip K. Dick
My review: The book disguise itself as a science fiction story set in the near future, but in reality it is a fictionalized auto-biography of the author real-life experience in the 70s American drug subculture. The story is narrated by the main character, a cop in disguise investigating a new drug, called substance D. While investigating he became addicted and he starts suffering more and more severe brain damages. His perception of reality and his narrative became distorted, confusing. The result is extremely powerful and deeply disturbing, and, thanks to the autobiographical nature of the text, authentic. I will not lie, it is not the easiest read, but the book really succeeds in capturing the ordeal of a troubled community, its fall, its beliefs and paranoias. As such, it is a great literary achievements that all sci-fi fans should not miss. (★★★★)
Started: May 26 2012 Finished: Jun 12 2012
Amber and Iron (Dark Disciple #2) cover
Amber and Iron (Dark Disciple #2)
by Margaret Weis (2011)
My review: The characters introduced in the first volume of the Dark Disciple trilogy return in Amber and Iron. Rhys and Nightshade continue to follow Lleu, to find a way to destroy Chemosh's curse. Mina continues to help the God of Death in his attempt to rule the dark pantheon, but the mysteries from her past starts to surface, shaking her to the core. As more gods get involved, the mysteries surrounding Mina nature and origin slowly unravel.
This is the best volume of the trilogy, the one I enjoyed reading the most. Despite that, it is not as epic, powerful, or captivating as the original dragonlance novels. There is really no comparison. (★★★★)
Started: May 30 2012 Finished: Jun 05 2012
Amber and Ashes (Dragonlance: The Dark Disciple, #1) cover
Amber and Ashes (Dragonlance: The Dark Disciple, #1)
by Margaret Weis
My review: None of the beloved "classic" dragonlance characters (i.e. the one of the first two trilogies) are featured in this book. The only returning character is Mina, a mysterious woman that was first introduced in the War of Souls trilogy. The mysteries surrounding her nature and origin will be finally revealed in these books.
Amber and Ashes focuses on the latest attempt of Chemosh, the god of Death, to gain the control of the Dark pantheon with the help of Mina, and on a human monk and a kender mystic that get caught in the middle of it. The first volume is quite a lot of fun to read, but it is not as epic, powerful, or captivating as the original novels. There is really no comparison. (★★★)
Finished: May 26 2012
Wizard's First Rule (Sword of Truth, #1) cover
Wizard's First Rule (Sword of Truth, #1)
by Terry Goodkind
My review: I decided to read the book, after I started watching "the legend of the seeker" TV series. The TV series is somewhat entertaining, but very episodic. It turns out that the TV show is a quite poor adaptation of a nice fun book. On the web there are plenty of reviews blasting this book for a wide variety of reasons (flat 1 dimensional character, not original plot, etc), but I enjoyed reading it. (★★★)
Finished: May 08 2012
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) cover
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)
by George R.R. Martin (2005)
My review: People were raving about the HBO TV series, so I decided to read the book. This first volume of the saga is incredible, it is heroic fantasy at its best. The plot is extremely complex, featuring intrigues between nobles and royal families, quite original and full of unexpected twists. (★★★★)
Started: May 01 2012 Finished: May 01 2012
Rendezvous with Rama (Rama, #1) cover
Rendezvous with Rama (Rama, #1)
by Arthur C. Clarke (2006)
My review: Clarke was a skillful writer and a scientist, and this shows in his writing: the focus is on the science part of science fiction. This is why his plots are plausible and scientifically accurate, and incredibly fascinating. Rama is an extra-terrestrial artificial planet, coming from the depth of space toward Earth. The world is built inside a rotating cylinder, creating artificial gravity using inertia. The book reads like a (readable and entertaining) science article, were strange phenomena are explained using physics. It is also reads like a explorer journal, filling the reader with wonder and awe. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 01 2012 Finished: Feb 29 2012
Sure of You (Tales of the City #6) cover
Sure of You (Tales of the City #6)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: The familiar Barbary Lane's characters are back, a little older. Reading this book feels like a high school re-union, where familiar faces trigger powerful memories, and we are faced with the realization that those time are gone, and time flew by. Michael moved to the Castro with his partner, living what would be a great life if not for the HIV virus in his blood. Mrs Madrigal and her daughter Mona travel to the Greek islands, and Mary Ann is given a great work opportunity that may strain her relationship with Brian. As always, Maupin excels in the deep psychological portrait of his characters, and his amazing ability to portray the spirit of San Francisco, its contradictions and inner turmoil at a particular moment in time. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 01 2012 Finished: Feb 17 2012
Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) cover
Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)
by Suzanne Collins (2009)
My review: While still enjoyable and hard to put down, this is not as original as the first volume of the series. The plot is quite similar to the previous one and it really reads like an encore. This second installment does not focus entirelly on Katniss and Peeta survival at the games like the previous one, but more space is given to the oppression of the districts and to the growing tension and rebellion. (★★★)
Started: Feb 01 2012 Finished: Feb 16 2012
Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) cover
Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)
by Suzanne Collins (2010)
My review: This is a great conclusion for one of the most enjoyable book series of the decades. This third installment does not follow the format of the previous two books (that was getting already a little repetitive), but instead focus on Katniss rescued from the Quarter Quell, her willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay, no matter what the personal cost. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 01 2012 Finished: Feb 16 2012
Me Talk Pretty One Day cover
Me Talk Pretty One Day
by David Sedaris (2001)
My review: Another painfully and shamelessly hilarious book by Sedaris, this time focusing on his life as an American in France, and on his linguistic problems. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 01 2012 Finished: Feb 11 2012
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1) cover
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)
by Suzanne Collins (2008)
My review: Suzanne Collins really knows how to write an impossible to put down book. I literally spent every free second reading the book for few days in a row, losing precious hours of sleep reading it. I was afraid I was going to get in trouble with my sweet half, but he started the book at the same time, and got even more addicted than me, so I guess things worked out at the end. This is not the type of book that shake you to the core, it has not a great message or lesson to deliver. It is just an action packed thrilling ride, where each single chapter finishes with a cliffhanger, and each page make you want to read more and more. It's not the kind of book that make you a better person or help you in the path towards understanding, but it is pure enjoyment. For the curious, the Hunger Games is set in a post apocalyptic North America, where a central government keeps 12 districts in a state of semi-slavery. As a punishment for an ancient rebellion two kids from each district are selected each year and sent into a televised death match, where the only survivor is going to be declared the winner. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 30 2012 Finished: Feb 01 2012
The Spine of the World (Forgotten Realms: Paths of Darkness, #2; Legend of Drizzt, #12) cover
The Spine of the World (Forgotten Realms: Paths of Darkness, #2; Legend of Drizzt, #12)
by R.A. Salvatore
My review: The 12th chapter of the legend of Drizzt series focuses on Wulfgar's fight against his inner demons and Melinda, a farm girl whose beauty stole the heart of the Lord of her fiefdom. The two stories proceed in parallel until the two characters cross their path almost at the end of the book. I did not like how easily the main characters were ready to kill in some of the previous chapters of the series. Monster were killed because they were monsters, not as a result of some evil action, or for self defense. I was very pleased to see this change in this book. Both the main characters stray from the right path and find themselves on the other side of the justice. People made mistakes, but they can redeem themselves if given a chance. And justice can be as evil as the crime that it tries to correct, if this lesson is forgotten. (★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2012 Finished: Jan 29 2012
Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse, #2) cover
Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse, #2)
by Charlaine Harris (2004)
My review: Reading Sookie Stackhouse novels is always a pleasure. Charlaine Harris definitely knows how to entertain and capture the attention of the reader. There is no real substance in the book, and some parts feels quite hypocritical. For example I have the distinct impression that the author enjoy having crazy orgies and sexual promiscuity in her plot, because this fact make her feel "modern, and cool", but at the same time she feel the need to be very judgmental about it. This said, despite all the shortcoming, I really really enjoyed the book and I can't wait to read the next one. It's like eating chocolate: you know it may be not so good for you, but you can't stop eating it. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2012 Finished: Jan 16 2012
Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks cover
Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks
by Ken Jennings
My review: I was given this book as a present, and I started reading it on a plane, with very little expectations. I was quite pleased to discover that the book was quite entertaining and full of interesting trivia, a perfect book to read while on a plane. Maphead is about geography, maps, and map wonks. It starts describing the history and role of maps in the ancient world, but soon it focuses on the lust for discovery and exploration of the unknown. It finishes speaking about today's explorers, stuck in an already charted world, trying to re-create the joy of discovery hiding artificial geo-caches or looking for arbitrary points in the map. (★★★)
Finished: Jan 03 2012
Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1) cover
Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1)
by Anne Rice (1991)
My review: I have heard so much about this book that I finally decided to read it. Some of the themes of the book have been re-used and re-invented by other authors and they do not feel anymore as original as they probably were, and because of it I was a little disappointed. The book is the story of Louis and his long (pretty unsuccessful) struggle to come to term with his Vampire nature. It's also the disturbingly fascinating story of Claudia, a young kid turned into a vampire, slowly growing into a woman forever trapped inside a body cursed to never age. (★★★)
Started: Dec 12 2011 Finished: Dec 24 2011
The Jumping Frog cover
The Jumping Frog
by Mark Twain
My review: Mark Twain's "The Jumping Frog" was quite popular after publication and it was translated in many languages. Upon discovering a French translation of this story, Twain back-translated the story into English, word for word, retaining the French grammatical structure and syntax. He then published all three versions again, with humorous results. (★★★)
Started: Dec 24 2011 Finished: Dec 24 2011
Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy, #1) cover
Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy, #1)
by Ken Follett
My review: It has been a while since I enjoyed so much reading a book. This impossible to put down book follows the interrelated stories of 5 families at the time of the first world war. History is lived through the fictional but historically accurate lives of the characters, German, British and Russian proletarians and nobility. It's mesmerizing to observe empires, political and social systems that have been existing for centuries crumble into dust, and to see a new world order emerging from the ashes of what it was, from all the destruction and the millios of deaths. The book made me realize how much social progress toke place in such a short time span, it made me grateful and appreciative of everything I have, and gave me hope for an even better future. Thanks for all those who fought for justice and democracy, and gave their life to give all of us a better world to live in.
Learn more in this blog post: http://goo.gl/uA4Hh3 (★★★★★)
Started: Nov 30 2011 Finished: Dec 11 2011
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County cover
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
by Mark Twain (1965)
My review: I started readying this short story to celebrate Mark Twain's 176th birthday. Despite the almost nonexistent / extremely thin plot, the story is funny and is able to get even modern readers to smile. The ending really surprised me: I was expecting something to happen, the main plot to begin, while it just ends abruptly, leaving me to wonder if I downloaded only a sample of the story by mistake. (★★★)
Started: Nov 30 2011 Finished: Dec 01 2011
Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1) cover
Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)
by Charlaine Harris (2001)
My review: I really like the HBO True Blood TV series, and I decided to read the book that inspired it. The book was as entertaining as the show, and there are enough differences here and there to surprise you even if you have seen it already on TV.
This said, there are some parts of the book that I did not really like, including the fact that the main character seems to be OK with "vigilante justice style" murder. Moreover some of the interactions between her and Bill really looks like rape to me. (★★)
Number of times I read it: 2
Started (first time): Oct 06 2018 Finished (first time): Oct 17 2018
The Silent Blade (Forgotten Realms: Paths of Darkness, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #11) cover
The Silent Blade (Forgotten Realms: Paths of Darkness, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #11)
by R.A. Salvatore
My review: In the 11th volume of the Dark Elf series, Drizzt, Catti-Brie, Bruenor and Wulfgar travel South to try to destroy the evil Crystal Shard. Along the way Wulfgar has to confront the internal daemons born during his ordeal as a prisoner, Artemis has to come to terms with his new old life, and Jarlaxle is extending his reach further toward the surface. I liked this book, the plot is fast paced and entertaining, but some parts of it really troubled me: I did not like the unjustified use of violence, and the use of hateful language. (★★★)
Started: Oct 15 2011 Finished: Oct 28 2011
The Fall (The Strain Trilogy, #2) cover
The Fall (The Strain Trilogy, #2)
by Guillermo del Toro (2011)
My review: The second volume of the strain trilogy is a page turner as the first one: it is impossible to put down once you start it. One of the problem I had with The Strain was that it felt more like a screenplay than a book. The plot was thin and too little focus was given to the main characters: a lot of space was given to side scenes to build the atmosphere, really little to character development. The Fall is a little better on this respect, there is more space for the plot to thicken and develop. There is no real character development, but this is a fast paced action book, and it delivers on that regard. (★★★)
Started: Sep 22 2011 Finished: Oct 14 2011
Winds of Fury (Mage Winds #3) cover
Winds of Fury (Mage Winds #3)
by Mercedes Lackey
My review: The final volume of the Mage Winds trilogy is more epic and hard to put down than the previous two. It reference quite often the Mage Wars trilogy, that I recommend to read beforehand. In this book Elspeth, Darkwind, and Firesong are back to a Valdemar that has lost its magic shield protection and it is being attacked by Ancar of Hardon and Falconsbane. The only hope Valdemar survival is a stealth attack to the heart of the enemy kingdom. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 14 2011 Finished: Sep 22 2011
The Strain (The Strain Trilogy, #1) cover
The Strain (The Strain Trilogy, #1)
by Guillermo del Toro (2010)
My review: I had very little expectations when I started this book. Even if Del Toro is a great movie director, I had no idea how good a writer he could be: books are a completely different medium. Moreover books with two authors tend to be worse (on average). Well, it may not have a groundbreaking plot, but it's really a page turner, it is impossible to put down once you start it. I burn through the first 200 pages in 2 working days. Unfortunately, the book at the end feel like a screenplay more than a book. Many little scene are stitched together creating a relatively thin plot. Too little focus is given to the main characters: a lot of space is given to side scenes to build the atmosphere, really little to character development. (★★★)
Started: Aug 02 2011 Finished: Aug 10 2011
Winds of Change (Mage Winds, #2) cover
Winds of Change (Mage Winds, #2)
by Mercedes Lackey
My review: The story is entertaining and never boring, but it feels episodic, almost as if it was serialized on a newspaper. I like the settings and the characters created by the author, but this series is not as epic and powerful as the previous two set in the same world of Valdemar. Princess Elspeth has reached K'Sheyna vale to find the long lost gift of magic and to fight Ancar of Hardon. Unfortunately things in the vale are not easy, even after the defeat of the legendary Falconsbane. The magic node at the center of the vale is unstable, and Skif and Nyara, Elspeth and Darkwind must come to term with their feelings. (★★★★)
Started: Jun 24 2011 Finished: Aug 01 2011
Maybe the Moon cover
Maybe the Moon
by Armistead Maupin
My review: Armistead Maupin take a break from his beloved "Tales of the city" characters and San Francisco to the sunnier South California. This book is a fictional diary of Cady, a little person, that even if talented, has an hard time to find a job in Hollywood because of her height. The book is a joy to read, fun and witty, and I strongly recommend it. (★★★★)
Started: Jun 13 2011 Finished: Jun 23 2011
March cover
March
by Geraldine Brooks (2006)
My review: In this Pulitzer prize winner book, Geraldine Brooks follows the steps that led Mr. March (the father of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women) to leave his family behind to join the anti-slavery Union cause during the America Civil War. The story told by Mr. March is drastically different from the optimistic child tale we are accustomed to. The moral certainties and optimistic views of Little Women are shattered in this extremely honest and sincere portrait of a country at war with itself. The horrors of slavery, war, and the weaknesses and hypocrisies of the human nature are exposed and laid bare for the reader to see. But the book is not only an incredible historical portrait of the Civil War, it is also a psychological novel focusing on the complex marriage of a man that struggle to live up to the person that he would like to be, and a courageous woman that has to bear the cost of her husband choices. (★★★★★)
Started: May 27 2011 Finished: Jun 12 2011
Passage to Dawn (Forgotten Realms: Legacy of the Drow, #4; Legend of Drizzt, #10) cover
Passage to Dawn (Forgotten Realms: Legacy of the Drow, #4; Legend of Drizzt, #10)
by R.A. Salvatore
My review: In this volume Drizzt follows Catti-brie south on the sword coast. They join the anti-pirate Captain Deudermont's boat, the Sea Sprite. An enemy from the past, Errtu, helped by the Goddess Loth, is plotting revenge against the dark elf, and disrupts the heroes life again. Assisted by one of the lunatic mages of the Harpel family, Drizzt, Catti-brie and Capitan Deudermont find themselves looking for a mysterious island in the middle of the ocean. The book is entertaining, but there's nothing really original or noticeable to be said about it. (★★)
Started: May 22 2011 Finished: May 26 2011
Cycle of Hatred (World of WarCraft, #1) cover
Cycle of Hatred (World of WarCraft, #1)
by Keith R.A. DeCandido
My review: The frail alliance between the orcs and the human in Durotar is shaky and some forces are working to destabilize them even more. Lady Proudmore and Thrall appears to be the only one believing in it. Even if the scale of the events of the story is not as epic as the one the previous volumes got us used to, the plot is quite intriguing and this short book is quite hard to put down once started. (★★★)
Started: May 18 2011 Finished: May 21 2011
Siege of Darkness (Forgotten Realms: Legacy of the Drow, #3; Legend of Drizzt, #9) cover
Siege of Darkness (Forgotten Realms: Legacy of the Drow, #3; Legend of Drizzt, #9)
by R.A. Salvatore
My review: In this installment of the legend of the drow series, Drizzt, Cattie-brie, Bruenor and their many allies found themselves involved in a mayor war against an invading drow army led by Matron Baenre. Old enemies and allies from the past resurface changing the battle outcome when least expected. Book 9 is more engaging and more epic than the previous ones. (★★★)
Started: Apr 17 2011 Finished: May 17 2011
The Currents of Space (Galactic Empire, #2) cover
The Currents of Space (Galactic Empire, #2)
by Isaac Asimov
My review: The story take place on the word of Florinia, the only source in the universe of precious kyrt. The inhabitant are subjugated and kept in ignorance by the Sarkite. Things start to change when a scientist is found on Sark with his memories wiped because dangerous for the universe balance. Asimov wrote some extraordinary books, as well as some so-and-so ones. This book sits in the middle. It is well-written and quite entertaining, but it is not as memorable or powerful as others like pebble in the sky. (★★★)
Started: Apr 05 2011 Finished: Apr 16 2011
Dragons of the Hourglass Mage (Dragonlance: The Lost Chronicles, #3) cover
Dragons of the Hourglass Mage (Dragonlance: The Lost Chronicles, #3)
by Margaret Weis (2009)
My review: The Dragonlance books will always have a special place in my heart. I used to read them when I was a kid. I still remember many summer days spent outdoors, protected by the hot sun rays by an old silk tree, with my nose in one of the book of the series. I would spend hour after hour lost in those pages, until it was too dark to read or it was time for dinner. Reading this book was like falling back in time. I was no longer in my San Francisco apartment, but I was back again in that field in Italy, under that Silk tree, caressed by the hot Italian sun, surrounded by green walls of flowers. It did not really matter that the story is actually not that great, or that some of the plot twists are forced and do not really make sense. What it matters is to find again those characters that I loved so much and I grew up with, to witness again their adventures. This book is certainly one of the least original of the whole saga, but it is at the same time one of the most touching and powerful. Even if the plot is simple and does not flow smoothly, it manages to bring back the kid that so avidly read all those books in his youth many years ago. It brought me the joy and the happiness of that time, and the bitter realization that those times are over. Reading the last pages was saying goodbye to the characters that saw me grew up, and to that kid that spent so many days with his nose in those books. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 19 2011 Finished: Apr 04 2011
The Sundering (WarCraft: War of the Ancients, #3) cover
The Sundering (WarCraft: War of the Ancients, #3)
by richard-a-knaak (2005)
My review: I am quite surprised that a book series based on a popular videogame turned out to be so entertaining and enjoyable. In this action packed, fast paced final chapter the beloved characters from the previous war of the ancients trilogy find themselves facing the burning legion, Deathwing, and the ancient Gods at once. On their side the dragons, including the Aspects, and all the semi-gods. The world of Azeroth will dramatically change, sundered into pieces. A good read for the lovers of fantasy even if they never played the videogame. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 06 2011 Finished: Mar 18 2011
The Annotated Alice: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and, Through the Looking-Glass cover
The Annotated Alice: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and, Through the Looking-Glass
by Lewis Carroll (1970)
My review: This volume contains both Alice in Wonderland and Through the looking-glass, along with annotations by well-known mathematician Martin Gardner. I read few months ago the first story with no annotations, and, even if I liked it, I felt like I was missing something. There are a lot of historical and cultural references that are impossible to get if you are not a Victorian England expert. One of my colleagues came to the rescue and borrowed me this version of the book, and, what a difference those annotation made! It was like reading a different book. Even more interesting was the critical introduction, that really changed my perception of it. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson had a strong fascination for young girls, that was apparently common during the Victorian times. The author cultivated his friendships with his young friends, created stories full of wonders and references to nursery rhymes to fascinate them. The book has plenty of this, mixed with a sense of sorrow at the realization that the child-friends are growing fast and with fear that they are going to forget the author. It is definitely quite an interesting book. I strongly recommend an annotated version to truly understand it and appreciate it. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 10 2011 Finished: Mar 05 2011
Starless Night (Forgotten Realms: Legacy of the Drow, #2; Legend of Drizzt, #8) cover
Starless Night (Forgotten Realms: Legacy of the Drow, #2; Legend of Drizzt, #8)
by R.A. Salvatore
My review: In this volume Drizzt goes back to his homeland, to meet many of the enemies that he thought he had left behind. I was not crazy for the previous volumes of this fantasy series, but this volume is definitely more entertaining than the previous ones. Even if some of the premises and the morals of the story are weak, it is quite enjoyable and fun to read. (★★★)
Started: Jan 30 2011 Finished: Feb 09 2011
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Of Blood and Honor
by Chris Metzen (2000)
My review: Warcraft: Of Blood and Honor is the forth novel set in Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft universe. It is the story of Tirion, a human paladin, that struggle with his belief system. He comes to realize that he was prejudiced and biased. Even if it is a short story, it is quite entertaining and heart lifting. The Warcraft book series has been full of unexpected surprises. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 20 2011 Finished: Jan 29 2011
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #1) cover
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #1)
by Lewis Carroll
My review: I started reading this book when I just started learning English. I found it too difficult at the time and I put it down. Almost 18 years later I started reading it again and it was quite an interesting surprise. I am still trying to find a sense out of it though. I should read the annotated version. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2010 Finished: Jan 22 2011
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The Stars, Like Dust
by Isaac Asimov
My review: This book was quite a disappointment. I really enjoyed the previous volume of the Empire series and I had high expectations. While very entertaining "The Star, Like Dust" has a quite uninteresting storyline. Some of the "twists" are so banal and stereotypical to make you yawn. I guess the book was less un-original in the 50s, but this book has very little to offer to a modern reader. My advice: if pick Asimov's Pebble in the Sky instead. (★★)
Started: Jan 08 2011 Finished: Jan 11 2011
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Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
by David Sedaris (2004)
My review: A collection of witty, sarcastic, and funny short stories about the author and his family. Sedaris cynicism will not fail to bring a smile on the reader face. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 30 2010 Finished: Jan 07 2011
The Demon Soul (WarCraft: War of the Ancients, #2) cover
The Demon Soul (WarCraft: War of the Ancients, #2)
by Richard A. Knaak (2004)
My review: While the first volume of the trilogy did not flow smoothly, this second volume does not have the same issues and is quite entertaining and fast paced. While Malfurion Stormrage and his brother, along with Rhonin, Krasus, Brox and Tyrande fight with all the night elves against the demons of the burning legion that are devastating Azeroth, the dragons, guided by Neltharion, are working on a powerful artifact to stop the demons. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 05 2010 Finished: Dec 27 2010
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The Night Watch
by Sarah Waters
My review: The Night Watch is the story of four commoners in World War II London, coping with personal and historical tragedies during air raids, black-outs and rationing. It is a story of loss, illicit affairs, desperation, hope, and love. Historical novels and movies have the tendency to be epic, to turn the characters into heroes, events into epics. As a result it is hard to identify with the characters, to understand what was like to live those events. The Night Watch does not fall in that trap. Its WWII London and its characters are just commoners, with common weaknesses, hopes, fears and tragedies. As a result it is impossible to not identify with them. It is impossible to not experience all the horrors, the destruction, the fears they experience, or not to share their hopes or their joy for historically insignificant but extremely real events. The result is an extremely powerful novel, able to shake the reader to the core. (★★★★★)
Started: Oct 10 2010 Finished: Dec 04 2010
The Legacy (Forgotten Realms: Legacy of the Drow, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #7) cover
The Legacy (Forgotten Realms: Legacy of the Drow, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #7)
by R.A. Salvatore
My review: All the characters of the previous books are back in this installment of the Dark Elf series that made Salvatore one of the most famous fantasy writers of the 20th century. Drizzt, Brueneor, and Regis are preparing for the marriage of Cattie-brie and Wulfgar, when some of the enemies of the past (Entreri, Drizzt's surviving siblings) come back when least expected. This is one of the worst books of the dark elf saga. The book appeal is in its familiar characters and settings. (★★)
Started: Sep 16 2010 Finished: Oct 09 2010
By the Sword (Valdemar, #9) cover
By the Sword (Valdemar, #9)
by Mercedes Lackey
My review: By The Sword is the story of Kerowyn, the granddaughter of Kethry and Tarma (appeared in the previous book "OathBound" and "OathBreakers"). Kerowyn is a smart intelligent and strong young woman that does not fit at all the model of the "noble women" in her country. Kerowyn slowly understand that her happiness and self-worth is more important of social acceptance by a narrow-minded set of individuals. The feminist themes of the last century american fantasy feminist movement (e.g. Marion Zimmer Bradley) are still there, but softened and made more palatable to the mainstream readers. Entertaining, but not daring as some of Lackey's previous books. (★★★)
Started: Sep 01 2010 Finished: Sep 15 2010
Significant Others (Tales of the City Series, Vol. 5) cover
Significant Others (Tales of the City Series, Vol. 5)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: Every volume of Tales of the City is a portrait of San Francisco in a particular moment in time. Each volume captures the dreams, the fears, the atmosphere of the city, and recreates the struggles and the achievements on the time. The actors are, as always, the loved inhabitants of Barbary lane. The settings are San Francisco in the 80s, AIDS, and the new and old struggles of family life (love, career, infidelity, and compromise). Enjoyable read, bitter sweet and wise. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 01 2010 Finished: Aug 15 2010
The Halfling's Gem (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #3; Legend of Drizzt, #6) cover
The Halfling's Gem (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #3; Legend of Drizzt, #6)
by R.A. Salvatore
My review: In the third volume of the (original) series, Drizzt, Wulfgar, Cattie-Brie, and Bruenor give chase to the assasin Entreri to save their friend Regis. Entertaining and well written, the third volume focuses on racial (and other types of) bias, and teaches the reader to go beyond the stereotypes that society feed to us. It also focus on the adverse effect of xenophobia (and any other type of prejudice) on the victims and their self-respect. (★★★★)
Started: Jul 10 2010 Finished: Jul 24 2010
The Well of Eternity (WarCraft: War of the Ancients, #1) cover
The Well of Eternity (WarCraft: War of the Ancients, #1)
by Richard A. Knaak (2004)
My review: Rhonin and Krassus (previously featured in "day of the dragon") and Broxigar (an orc working under Thrall, previously featured in "the lord of the clans") separately start investigating a strange and potentially dangerous magic anomaly. The three heroes end up being thrown back in time (just in time to catch the first attempt of Sargas to destroy the world with his burning legions). The book brings together familiar characters from some of the previous Warcraft books. While it is not necessary to read those books before, it certainly helps. The book is fun to read and explore the history of Azeroth. Finally some of the WoW missions are more understandable. This said, the story does not flow naturally: some of the character actions are clearly aimed at pushing the story in a particular direction, but they are often not credible and unnatural. (★★★)
Started: Jul 03 2010 Finished: Jul 09 2010
Pebble in the Sky (Galactic Empire, #3) cover
Pebble in the Sky (Galactic Empire, #3)
by Isaac Asimov
My review: This book made me understand why Isaac Asimov is considered one of the fathers of science fiction. The book is impossible to put down: I found myself staying up all night to see how it ends. On top of being so entertaining, the book also explores interesting themes like xenophobia, and how Religion ("customs" and "traditions" in the book) can potentially be used to enslave people. I recently read Asimov's Robot's series (that was fun, but not that special), and this is by far superior. (★★★★★)
Started: Jun 30 2010 Finished: Jul 02 2010
The Stolen Throne (Dragon Age, #1) cover
The Stolen Throne (Dragon Age, #1)
by David Gaider
My review: A good read for fans of Dragon Age origins. It explores the history of Ferelden before the beginning of the videogame. This is the story of Prince Maric, the son of the Rebel queen, fighting to get back the throne that was taken from his grandfather by the Orlaisian Emperor. It is rather a sad story, of people sacrificing their love and repressing their feelings in order to perform what they believe to be their duty. Entertaining. (★★★)
Started: Jun 07 2010 Finished: Jun 29 2010
Winds of Fate (Mage Winds #1) cover
Winds of Fate (Mage Winds #1)
by Mercedes Lackey (1992)
My review: I have been slowly reading Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar book series in order of publication. With this book her writing style and skills have reached maturity. The story flows really well, the characters are surprisingly human, more fascinating because of their limitations and short-falling than for their magic powers. The book uses all the tricks of modern fiction to capture the reader and it is very hard to put down. While very entertaining and well written, there is something missing when compared with her less polished and rougher earlier work. Her earlier work was strongly influenced by / part of the feminist fantasy movement and that made her work more controversial, less mainstream and less easy to sell, but intriguing, interesting and deeper. The fantasy world was used as a setting to investigate real-world issues, or as utopia, a world to look forward to. I really hope these (difficult) themes will come back in her later books. (★★★)
Started: May 17 2010 Finished: Jun 06 2010
Streams of Silver (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #2; Legend of Drizzt, #5) cover
Streams of Silver (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #2; Legend of Drizzt, #5)
by R.A. Salvatore (2007)
My review: The original Drizzt trilogy is rather entertaining (and this cannot be said of the later "prequel" volumes). Even if there is nothing really groundbreaking and unique, it is a fun and enjoyable read. It also teaches young reader to go beyond society biases and to judge people by their actions and character. (★★★)
Started: May 10 2010 Finished: May 16 2010
The Master cover
The Master
by Colm Tóibín
My review: Like Michael Cunningham in The Hours, Colm Toibin captures the extraordinary mind and heart of a great writer. Beautiful and profoundly moving, The Master tells the story of a man born into one of America's first intellectual families who leaves his country in the late nineteenth century to live in Paris, Rome, Venice, and London among privileged artists and writers. In stunningly resonant prose, Toibin captures the loneliness and the hope of a master of psychological subtlety whose forays into intimacy inevitably failed those he tried to love. (★★★★)
Started: Apr 03 2010 Finished: May 09 2010
The Crystal Shard (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #4) cover
The Crystal Shard (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #4)
by R.A. Salvatore (2007)
My review: This is the book that started the legend of Drizzt (interestingly enough, Drizzt is not the main character in here). The book is definitely more compelling and interesting than each of all the three prequel books that I have read so far. I like the message the book sends to young reader: judge people by their actions and by what they are, not by insignificant characteristics like the color of the skin, or their nationality, etc. Free yourself of all the inherited traditional biases and preconceptions. Enjoyable book. (★★★)
Started: Mar 28 2010 Finished: Apr 02 2010
The Last Guardian (WarCraft, #3) cover
The Last Guardian (WarCraft, #3)
by Jeff Grubb
My review: This is the story of the apprenticeship of Khadgar under Medivh, a powerful and revered mage, vested with the title and the power of guardian of Tirisfal. Mysterious events in the background appears to be linked: demons murder mages, orcs are suddenly appearing out of nowhere. The storytelling is quite good, it is hard to put the book down. The story is interesting, but nothing more can be said. (★★★)
Started: Mar 22 2010 Finished: Mar 27 2010
The Charioteer cover
The Charioteer
by Mary Renault
My review: This is the story of Laurie, an injured world war II soldier, recovering from his injuries in a hospital. While there he meets a Quaker and conscience objector, Andrew, whom he slowly falls in love with. The love is strictly platonic, both men haven't even come to terms with their homosexuality, or even realized that they are gay. Then Laurie meets his school senpai, his never confessed first love. It is at this point that the story become quite interesting (after a very slow start) in the discovery of the humanity and fragility of each character. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 19 2010 Finished: Mar 21 2010
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The Tales of Beedle the Bard
by J.K. Rowling (2008)
My review: A collection of fairy tales taking place in the Harry Potter universe. The book very short (done-reading-in-30-minutes short), but it is relatively entertaining. The highlight of the book are the Dumbledore's commentaries: the author get back at the fundamentalists that accused her books of introducing kids to witchcraft. Profits from the book sales goes to a non-profit organization aimed at helping child in need. (★★★)
Started: Feb 18 2010 Finished: Feb 18 2010
Lord of the Clans (WarCraft, #2) cover
Lord of the Clans (WarCraft, #2)
by Christie Golden
My review: I usually stay away from video-game inspired books. They tend to capitalize on the success of the game and end up being horrible books. That's why this book was such a pleasant surprise. The books tells the story of Thrall, an enslaved Orc, raised by intolerant and racist humans to use him as a weapon. It is the story of an oppressed Race that finds the strength to fight for the right of self-determination and for freedom. I really enjoyed, I strongly recommend it. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 12 2010 Finished: Feb 14 2010
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A Sight for Sore Eyes
by Ruth Rendell
My review: I started reading the book and I was immediately captured by the deep psychological analysis of the main character, Teddy, a psychopath. The author led the reader in Teddy's mind. Suddenly it is easy to understand his way of thinking, and even relate and be sympathetic towards him. This is the kind of book that is impossible to put down once started, the kind of book you end up reading until an early hour in the morning to realize you need to be at work few hours later. (Spoiler alert, stop reading now if you want to read this book). What bothered me is that the author clearly felt the need to punish her character at the end. The book starts as a completely objective analysis of Teddy, but the ending is a subjective moral judgement of his character. While we all agree with the author, the conclusion goes against the premises of her work and taints her achievement. (★★★★)
Finished: Feb 02 2010
Sojourn (Forgotten Realms: Dark Elf Trilogy, #3; Legend of Drizzt, #3) cover
Sojourn (Forgotten Realms: Dark Elf Trilogy, #3; Legend of Drizzt, #3)
by R.A. Salvatore
My review: I love fantasy, D&D, and I was told that the Drizzt series is quite a good one. Unfortunately, as for the previous books in the series, the story is not that great. It really does feel like a prequel written poorly and quickly to leverage on the success of the previously very successful books. It was entertaining, but I won't recommend it. I will keep reading at this point, hopefully I'll get soon to one of the good ones. (★★)
Started: Jan 17 2010 Finished: Feb 01 2010
Babycakes (Tales of the City, #4) cover
Babycakes (Tales of the City, #4)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: We are back to 28 Barbary Lane, San Francisco, following the adventure of Mary Ann, Brian, Mouse and Mona. It's the forth book, and all the character are now so familiar, that they do feel like family. This is, so far, the best written book of the series, Maupin really improved his writing skills over the year (and he was great to start with). The story flows very smoothly now and it's adroitly crafted so that everything falls in place without forcing events. As a result the story feel credible and real. The story takes place during the AIDS years. Mouse is mourning the loss of Jon, Mona is looking for a new life in Seattle, Brian wants a baby to give a meaning to his life, and Mary Ann tries hard to balance married life with her career. A quite amazing snapshot of a San Francisco of the end of the last millennium, witty and touching at the same time. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2010 Finished: Jan 16 2010