One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez (2003)
Publisher review: The brilliant, bestselling, landmark novel that tells the story of the Buendia family, and chronicles the irreconcilable conflict between the desire for solitude and the need for love—in rich, imaginative prose that has come to define an entire genre known as "magical realism."
Started: Mar 01 2021
by Nishimoto Keisuke (1990)
Publisher review: ももたろうは、いぬ、さる、きじのおともをつれて、鬼が島へ鬼たいじにでかけます。日本の昔話を、本格的なアニメ画で描きます。
Started: Mar 04 2021
Lords of the Sith
by Paul S. Kemp (2015)
Publisher review: "It appears things are as you suspected, Lord Vader. We are indeed hunted." Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor's chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters—and the truest measure of Vader's allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now. On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as "spice," an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure that his will is done. For Syndulla and Isval, it's the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. For the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet's surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries.
Started: Apr 10 2021
Heir to the Jedi (Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion, #3)
by Kevin Hearne (2015)
I am fond of the Star Wars fictional universe: I have a nostalgic attachment to it, and despite some drops in quality along the way (e.g. The Phantom Menace), recent installments like Rogue One, The Force Awakens, and The Last Jedi were even better than the original series. Because of this fondness, I started reading some of Star Wars books during my commute or doing some chores. The quality is not always great, but they are usually at least enjoyable.
This book centers around Luke Skywalker, after the destruction of the Death Star has made him not only a hero of the Rebel Alliance but a valuable asset in the ongoing battle against the Empire. Though he's a long way from mastering the power of the Force, there's no denying his phenomenal skills as a pilot. In the eyes of Rebel leaders Princess Leia Organa and Admiral Ackbar, there's no one better qualified to carry out a daring rescue mission crucial to the Alliance cause.
A brilliant alien cryptographer renowned for her ability to breach even the most advanced communications systems is being detained by Imperial agents determined to exploit her exceptional talents for the Empire's purposes. But the prospective spy's sympathies lie with the Rebels, and she's willing to join their effort in exchange for being reunited with her family. It's an opportunity to gain a critical edge against the Empire that's too precious to pass up. It's also a job that demands the element of surprise. So Luke and the ever-resourceful droid R2-D2 swap their trusty X-wing fighter for a sleek space yacht piloted by brash recruit Nakari Kelen, daughter of a biotech mogul, who's got a score of her own to settle with the Empire.
Challenged by ruthless Imperial bodyguards, death-dealing enemy battleships, merciless bounty hunters, and monstrous brain-eating parasites, Luke plunges head-on into a high-stakes espionage operation that will push his abilities as a Rebel fighter and would-be Jedi to the limit. If ever he needed the wisdom of Obi-Wan Kenobi to shepherd him through danger, it's now. But Luke will have to rely on himself, his friends, and his own burgeoning relationship with the Force to survive.
It's an enjoyable read, but that's pretty much it.
Started: Mar 20 2021 Finished: Apr 10 2021
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
by Caroline Criado Pérez (2019)
An incredibly eye opening read, solidly based on tons of research data. I am sometimes weary of non fiction books: they tend to have one or two interesting ideas or facts stretched into a full book. Quite the opposite was true for this book: each chapter could be easily expanded into a full book.
Data is fundamental to the modern world. From economic development, to healthcare, to education and public policy, we rely on numbers to allocate resources and make crucial decisions. But because so much data fails to take into account gender, because it treats men as the default and women as atypical, bias and discrimination are baked into our systems. And women pay tremendous costs for this bias, in time, money, and often with their lives.
Celebrated feminist advocate Caroline Criado Perez investigates the shocking root cause of gender inequality and research in Invisible Women, diving into women's lives at home, the workplace, the public square, the doctor’s office, and more. Built on hundreds of studies in the US, the UK, and around the world, and written with energy, wit, and sparkling intelligence, this is a groundbreaking, unforgettable exposé that will change the way you look at the world.
Started: Feb 26 2021 Finished: Mar 19 2021
The Consuming Fire (The Interdependency, #2)
by John Scalzi (2018)
I had read the previous instalment of The Interdependency series as part of one of my 2018 Hugo Finalists Read-a-thon, and I was looking forward seeing where the story was going.
In The Collapsing Empire humanity's interstellar empire is on the verge of collapse. The extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible is disappearing, leaving entire systems and human civilizations stranded. Emperox Grayland II of the Interdependency is ready to take desperate measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth, or at the very least an opportunity to an ascension to power. While Grayland prepares for disaster, others are preparing for a civil war. A war that will take place in the halls of power, the markets of business and the altars of worship as much as it will between spaceships and battlefields. The Emperox and her allies are smart and resourceful, as are her enemies. Nothing about this will be easy... and all of humanity will be caught in its consuming fire.
This is a light read, yet quite entertaining and fun. Also, some of the characters, are incredibly memorable and funny. I can't wait to read the last book of this trilogy!
Started: Feb 02 2021 Finished: Feb 27 2021
The 5am Club
by Robin S. Sharma
For years I have woken up at 5AM and started the day focusing on healthy habits like exercising or studying before starting my work day. I learned that there was a book, The 5am club that proposed exactly this, and argued it was a good thing based on a series of scientific studies. I was quite excited to read it and... it was uttermost trash. It was by far the worst book I have ever read in my life, and it was so bad that, when I started, I thought that the author was making fun of the self-help genre. Then I decided to continue because the book was making me laugh (even if the author did not intend to do it). My favorite part? The author write himself in the book as one of the main characters, and creates other characters around him to non-stop praise his "Truths" as "revolutionary" and "life changing". Seriously?
This is my first ZERO star review on goodreads.
Started: Feb 06 2021 Finished: Feb 24 2021
The Key to Kanji: A Visual History of 1100 Characters = Kanji Etoki
by Noriko Kurosawa Williams (2010)
I always enjoyed etymology (the study of the history of words), and when I started learning the Japanese writing system this love intensified. I decided to leverage on this love, to help myself learn more 漢字 (kanji). I bought this book to supplement my learning, expecting to use it just as a dictionary. I did not know that the book also had a few sections covering the history of the Chinese and Japanese writing system... I ended up devouring those sections.
This turned out to be a great purchase, I use it to reinforce my kanji learning by understanding each symbol origin, as well as to understand better where this incredibly complex writing system came from.
Started: Feb 12 2021 Finished: Feb 14 2021
A Crash of Fate (Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, #1)
by Zoraida Córdova (2019)
I am fond of the Star Wars fictional universe: I have a nostalgic attachment to it, and despite some drops in quality along the way (e.g. The Phantom Menace), recent installments like Rogue One, The Force Awakens, and The Last Jedi were even better than the original series. Because of this fondness, I started reading some of Star Wars books during my commute. The quality is not always great, but they are usually at least enjoyable.
A Crash of Fate is quite enjoyable, despite being a tie-in story for the new Disneyland park section. It's the story of Izzy and Jules. They were childhood friends, climbing the spires of Batuu, inventing silly games, and dreaming of adventures they would share one day. Then, Izzy's family left abruptly, without even a chance to say goodbye. Izzy's life became one of constant motion, traveling from one world to the next, until her parents were killed and she became a low-level smuggler to make ends meet. Jules remained on Batuu, eventually becoming a farmer like his father, but always yearning for something more. Now, thirteen years after she left, Izzy is returning to Batuu. She's been hired to deliver a mysterious parcel, and she just wants to finish the job and get gone. But upon arrival at Black Spire Outpost she runs smack into the one person who still means something to her after all this time: Jules. The attraction between them is immediate, yet despite Jules seeming to be everything she's ever needed, Izzy hesitates. How can she drag this good-hearted man into the perilous life she's chosen? Jules has been trying to figure out his future, but now all he knows for certain is that he wants to be with Izzy. How can he convince her to take a chance on someone who's never left the safety of his homeworld?
A cute and entertaining read, that while does not contain any revelation nor features any of the well known characters, it still managed to evoke the magic of the Star Wars universe and make you like in it for few hours. I liked it. :)
Started: Jan 09 2021 Finished: Feb 06 2021
Masquerade in Lodi (Penric and Desdemona, #9)
by Lois McMaster Bujold (2020)
I have grown fond of the Penric and Desdemona series, and I particularly liked Nikys' story arc started in Penric's Mission. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that a new instalment was out. I was not disappointed: the story is definitely entertaining, even if not as good as the one in Nikys' arc.
This novella jumps back in time, to when Penric was younger and still unattached. It is set in the canal city of Lodi, the equivalent of Venice in the world of the five gods. Bastard's Eve is a night of celebration for most residents in Lodi... but not for sorcerer Learned Penric and his Temple demon Desdemona, who find themselves caught up in the affairs of a shiplost madman, a dangerous ascendant demon, and a very unexpected saint of the fifth god.
Started: Jan 26 2021 Finished: Feb 01 2021
Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston (2020)
After reading good review after good review of this book, I had been wanting to read Their Eyes Were Watching God for a while. I was not disappointed. While I had initially some minor difficulty with the use of a Southern vernacular I was not used to, I soon came up to speed and got enchanted by the highly lyric and poetic writing.
This book is one of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century. It brings to life a Southern love story with wit, pathos, and incredibly beautiful writing. I loved following the main character (Janie Crawford) through her life, see her growth beyond the strict gender norms imposed by society to be able to finally find love in a fulfilling relationship of equals.
Out of print for almost thirty years, due largely to initial audiences' rejection of its strong black female protagonist, Hurston's classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.
Started: Jan 04 2021 Finished: Jan 25 2021
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1999)
There has been a lot of talk around this novel, finalists of the Nebula, Hugo, and National Book awards. Modern Library even listed it as one of the 100 best novels of all time, while there has been numerous attempts to censor this book: in 1973 for example, a school board in USA decided to burn all the school libraries copies of the book. As a result I had extremely high expectations: I was prepared to be blown away.... but I was not.
Do not get me wrong: it's a good book, with a great anti-war message. It just did not meet my over hyped expectations.
Slaughterhouse-Five is centered on the infamous firebombing of Dresden. It is the story of Billy Pilgrim a person that claims to be experiencing time in a different way: he jumps back and forth, experiencing pieces of his life in almost random order. This odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.
Started: Dec 31 2020 Finished: Jan 08 2021
How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future
by Steven Levitsky (2018)
This is one of the scariest and most interesting books I read in a while. How Democracies Die analyzes the path taken by countries that narrowly avoided falling into authoritarianism, and countries that did not manage to avoid the descent into full dictatorship. This analysis is used to explain how easy is for democracy to be eroded and die, and it provides useful insight on USA recent history and the current challenges faced by our nation.
The recent political escalations, the erosions of Democratic norms had made many of us wondering: is our democracy in danger? Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes. Democracy no longer ends with a bang, in a revolution or military coup, but with a whimper: the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms. The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism. The bad news is that, we have already passed many of them. Drawing on decades of research and a wide range of historical and global examples, from 1930s Europe to contemporary Hungary, Turkey, and Venezuela, to the American South during Jim Crow, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how democracies die, and how ours can be saved.
The book is three years old by now, I would love to read an updated and extended edition covering recent events, including attempts by the outgoing administration to overturns the election results. I would love to hear the authors' take on this. Is it too late? What can be done, by both party, to re-establish respect and democratic norms?
Started: Dec 24 2020 Finished: Jan 04 2021