Marco's readings

Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. This page lists all the books that I read of the fantasy genre since 2001.
This page is built leveraging the goodreads.com API.

All the Birds in the Sky
by Charlie Jane Anders (2016)
My review: A deeply original work, at the intersection of science fiction, fantasy, YA, and fairy tales, with an interesting twisted spin. This is the story of two friends, Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead, both terribly bullied as a child. They are very different, Patricia a witch, Laurence a scientific genius, yet the circumstances, and their peculiarities bring them together. The story starts during their childhood, and follow them as they grow older, until... the apocalypse.
I loved this book, and I ended up staying up late at night few nights in a row to see what was going to happen next. This is clearly a worthy finalist for the Hugo Award for best Novel. (★★★★★)
Started: May 29 2017 Finished: Jun 06 2017
Red: A Tor.com Original
by Ramsey Shehadeh
My review: Ansel is a young man still grieving for his lost sister. He and his family are trying to come to terms with her unexplained disappearance. They continue to play the family favorite board game, a more complex version of clue. Ansel always use the green detective. His sister used to use the red one. As he tries to remember a detail that would help locating his sister, he steps into the world of their favorite board game, in a desperate attempt to find her.
A very interesting and beautifully written story, with an abrupt and disappointing ending. (★★★)
Started: Jun 01 2017 Finished: Jun 01 2017
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe
by Kij Johnson (2016)
My review: I read The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe as part of my Hugo awards finalist reading marathon.
As the title suggest, this story is inspired by, and a sequel of sort of the famous Lovecraft's The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, that is, by far, one of my least favorite books I have ever read, I found the original slow and boring, and I had to force myself to reach the end. It should not come as a surprise, that I was not looking forward reading this modern version of it. It turns out though, that the story is quite good, vastly superior to the original, and it subverts many of the problematic tropes of the Lovecraft's story. (★★★)
Started: May 26 2017 Finished: May 29 2017
Penric and the Shaman (Penric and Desdemona, #2)
by Lois McMaster Bujold (2016)
My review: I read Penric and the Shaman as part of my Hugo awards finalist reading marathon.
Lois McMaster Bujold is an established well-known award winning author, and this latest work does not disappoint. It is set on the world of the five gods, and it is best enjoyed if read after the previous book in the series, Penric's Demon.
In this book Penric is now a divine of the Bastard’s Order as well as a sorcerer and scholar, living in the palace where the Princess-Archdivine holds court. His scholarly work is interrupted when the Archdivine agrees to send Penric, in his role as sorcerer, to accompany a Locator of the Father’s Order, assigned to capture Inglis, a runaway shaman charged with the murder of his best friend. However, the situation they discover in the mountains is far more complex than expected. Penric's roles as sorcerer, strategist, and counselor are all called upon before the end.
The novella is quite entertaining and fun. While it is not ground-breaking in the genre, I am growing fond of this character, and I am looking forward reading more books set in this world. (★★★★)
Started: May 21 2017 Finished: May 26 2017
The Jewel and Her Lapidary
by Fran Wilde (2016)
My review: The story is told from two perspectives: the one of a travel guide, narrating events from an almost mythical, and vastly forgotten past, and from the point of view of the people that actually lived those events. This is the story of the end of a kingdom where jewels have tremendous powers that can drive people insane, and some humans, the lapidarys, have the power to bind them and their powers. The jewels, the nobility, bind the lapidarys. This is also the story of Lin and Sima, a princess destined to be married to a far away country, and her lowal lapidary. They get caught in a web of intrigue and deceit, and must find a way to escape the traps set by the past and save their kingdom.
It is a solid story, made remarkable by the world building. I do wish the author will come back to this world, and develop the character further.
(★★★★)
Started: May 05 2017 Finished: May 06 2017
Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children, #1)
by Seanan McGuire (2016)
My review: The premise of this clever dark fantasy novella is the following: children have always disappeared under the right conditions. slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children. And those sent back have trouble adjusting back to the word they were born into. Miss West's home for wayward children is a safe haven for them. Nancy is one of those children. The things she’s experienced changed her. Each of Miss West's children is seeking a way back to her/his own fantasy world. But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.
I really enjoy the story, it has a strong beginning, memorable characters, and an original plot. It just slow down a little bit before the end, and I am left wondering if it would have worked better as a shorter story. This said, I am looking forward reading the sequel! (★★★★)
Started: May 02 2017 Finished: May 05 2017
The Tomato Thief
by Ursula Vernon (2016)
My review: An interesting sequel of the award winning "Jackalope Wives". This is the story of grandma Harken, that liveson the edge of town, in a house with its back to the desert. Some people said that she lived out there because she liked her privacy, and some said that it was because she did black magic in secret. Some said that she just didn’t care for other people. Everybody agrees her tomatoes are great. One day her tomatoes start vanishing one by one... (★★★)
Started: Apr 27 2017 Finished: Apr 29 2017
Seasons of Glass and Iron
by Amal El-Mohtar (2016)
My review: This is the story of Tabitha, and Amira. Their stories, and their roles are the archetypal stories and roles of women in fairy tales. The same fairy tales that we still read to our children, often without realizing how misogynistic they are. One day, as Tabitha walks around the world to repent for having revealed to her mother she was a victim of abuse, she meets Amira. Their encounter will deeply change their lives, their way of thinking, and of living. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 10 2017 Finished: Mar 11 2017
The Unknown God
by Ann Leckie (2017)
My review: I loved Leckie's Imperial Radch space opera, and I was eager to read more from who I consider one of my favorite authors. This story was very different from what I read before: it is not a science fiction piece, debating identity and colonialism. The Unknown God is a fantasy piece, set in a world of many Gods, where they can decide to walk among man. Aworo, Lord of Horses, god of the Western plains, decides to take human form, to try to understand why humans often do the unexpected... An almost theological reflection of life, that I really enjoyed, but for the ending, that was a little too unclear to me. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 10 2017 Finished: Mar 10 2017
This is Not a Wardrobe Door
by A. Merc Rustad (2016)
My review: A beautiful short story, written by somebody that grow up reading Narnia, and rebelling against the rule that prevents grown-ups to go through the gate. As other reviewers said, this is a nostalgic revisitation of an old trope, and a rebellion against it. Last, but not least, despite the short length of this work, the characters are well drawn and well rounded. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 10 2017 Finished: Mar 10 2017
Nevertheless She Persisted
by Kameron Hurley (2017)
My review: This book is the work of many famous sci-fi and fantasy female authors celebrating international woman day, with short work of fiction. The story are all inspired by the following 3 short phrases: She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted. Three short lines, fired over social media in response to questions of why Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced on the floor of the United States Senate on February 7th, 2017, for daring to read aloud the words of Coretta Scott King. As this message was transmitted across the globe, it has become a galvanizing cry for people of all genders in recognition of the struggles that women have faced throughout history.
Each author offers her unique interpretation. While the results are uneven, some are noteworthy. I particularly enjoyed Seanan McGuire's Persephone (that also touches themes of the ills of high income inequalities), Alyssa Wong's God product (thematically less fitting than the others), and Maria Dahvana Headley's Astronaut (based on a real history). (★★★)
Started: Mar 08 2017 Finished: Mar 08 2017
The Orangery
by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (2016)
My review: The story is told by two narrators, both connected to the same place, the Orangery, a special natural preserve that shelters women that escaped from the abuse of men, turning into trees. One of the narrator is the guardian, living a life of solitude and isolation at the center of the orangery. The other narrator is the guide, bringing new people every day among the verdant residents. I liked the story, I liked how it borrows elements from the Greek mythology, and how they are used as allegories for the gender dynamics through history. If the plot has just been a little thicker, this could have been a little masterpiece. (★★★)
Started: Mar 02 2017 Finished: Mar 04 2017
Losing Heart Among the Tall
by A.M. Dellamonica (2017)
My review: This is the second short story set in the fiction world of Stormwrack, and I am starting to fall in love a little with its characters. The story is entertaining, and can be easily read as stand-alone without having read the book series (as it did for me).
The crew of the Nightjar find a merman of the fleet wounded and stranded in the ocean, and Gale and Parrish work to find out who would assault a member of the nation of Tallon's intelligence service. They soon discover a plot that could shake the foundations of the fleet. (★★★)
Started: Mar 01 2017 Finished: Mar 02 2017
You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay
by Alyssa Wong (2016)
My review: I am usually not fond of stories with a western flavor, but Alyssa Wong managed to write one I did like, and quite a lot. This is the story of Ellis, a young boy with a very deep connection with his land, the desert, and with mysterious powers. Ellis is being raised by Madame Lettie, the owner of the local brothel, and the second wife of his dead father. In the brothel, Ellis make himself useful with odd jobs, and sometimes as a ware for the not always straight customers.
The story starts three months after a mysterious incidents at the mines, that were the economical fulcrum of town, and three months after the violent death of Ellis' father... (★★★★)
Started: Feb 25 2017 Finished: Feb 26 2017
Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies
by Brooke Bolander (2016)
My review: A very interesting, and very fine example of message fiction, focusing on women rights, and rape. Given the brevity of the story, it is hard to say anything about it, without spoiling it. I would just say that it is a great piece from a Hugo / Nebula / Sturgeon / Locus finalist writer. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 16 2017 Finished: Feb 16 2017
Dragonkin
by Lavie Tidhar (2013)
My review: I am a big fan of some of Lavie Tidhar work, and after reading his The Old Dispensation, I wanted to read more from the same author. I discovered this short story on the tor website, and I decided to give it a try. It is a decent story, but there is nothing of the magic of some of his later work. If you are trying to decide which book of this author to pick up, I would recommend something more recent.
This story is set in a near future when different being trapped inside human bodies, are finally set free to be what they are. (★★)
Started: Feb 11 2017 Finished: Feb 11 2017
The Phantom in the Maze
by Michael Swanwick (2015)
My review: Another entertaining story set in the world of the Mongolian Wizard. I was expecting this to be the last and final, but it is definitely not: while entertaining and well written, The Phantom in the Maze does really little to advance the plot. In this installment of the series Ritter is sent to Scotland to investigate a murder taking place in a military research facility investigating time, and how to bent it... (★★★)
Started: Feb 09 2017 Finished: Feb 09 2017
The Pyramid of Krakow
by Michael Swanwick (2015)
My review: In this installment of the Mongolian Wizard series, Ritter is sent as a spy to Poland, recently conquered by the enemies. In there he will come in close contact with the horrors taking place behind enemy lines, and he will discover the source of power behind the Mongolian Wizard.
I really enjoyed this story, and it feels like the author is setting up the stage for an epic finale. (★★★)
Started: Feb 09 2017 Finished: Feb 09 2017
The Night of the Salamander
by Michael Swanwick (2015)
My review: In this installment of the Mongolian Wizard series, Ritter is investigating the murder of Martel, a power field marshal, with the power to bent the will of everyone around him to the utmost devotion.
Angélique de La Fontaine, a powerful surgeon, joins Ritter in the investigation...
While I really like this series, and the role of Angélique in this story, this is my least favorite episode. The description of the homophobic society Ritter lives in, left me a little disturbed. (★★)
Started: Feb 07 2017 Finished: Feb 09 2017
The Witch of Orion Waste and the Boy Knight
by E. Lily Yu (2016)
My review: An interesting story, that follows the structure and some of the plot elements of the classic fairy tales, but none of their sexist undertones, and morals. This is the story of a woman, escaped from a violent and angry family, that found power in witchcraft, and fell and sacrifice herself for an unworthy knight. (★★★)
Started: Feb 07 2017 Finished: Feb 07 2017
The Sound of Salt and Sea
by Kat Howard (2016)
My review: In a world where the dead are given to the sea, and once a year the sea gives them back for three days, the death horses rider have an important role: they need to guide the dead back to the sea before they transform from benevolent spirits, into ravenous blood thirsty creatures. The horse rider are carefully picked, and they need to follow tradition. All the signs points to Rowan to be the next one... (★★★)
Started: Feb 05 2017 Finished: Feb 05 2017
The Green Knight's Wife
by Kat Howard (2016)
My review: For centuries the green knight challenge has been the same. The contenders arrive with the changing of the weather, ushered in by winter’s cold. Once a year, at the beginning of December, those silly boys who think challenging the green knight means that they are brave. All of them so eager to test their worth on the edge of the narrator husband's axe. Contender kings, and knights have been replaced by CEOs and venture capitalist, but nothing has changed... until this year. (★★)
Started: Feb 05 2017 Finished: Feb 05 2017
The Greenest Gecko
by Ploy Pirapokin (2017)
My review: While the story is set in a near future country of Pailand, it is very relevant in today world. The greenest gecko is a chilling reminder of how we all can be easily manipulated by the powerful.
After an unusual public incident in which the frail, elderly President is revitalized, geckos are now considered to bring good luck. At the Ministry of Merit, Fon is secretly in charge of building the next Gecko Mortar for the president for life family, to be deployed during the president's son's eightieth birthday. She is honored to be assigned this duty and works diligently to create and deliver this extraordinary machine. (★★★)
Started: Feb 04 2017 Finished: Feb 04 2017
Passing Strange
by Ellen Klages (2017)
My review: Passing Strange is a moving love story, set in an historically accurate 1940 San Francisco, with a sprinkle of magic in it. While the story touches complex issues like xenophobia, homophobia, and the horror of wars, the main characters are women that stick together, and find happiness and love.
The city of San Francisco was, for the times, a haven for the unconventional. Tourists flock to the cities within the city: the Magic City of the World’s Fair on an island created of artifice and illusion; the forbidden city of Chinatown, a separate, alien world of exotic food and nightclubs that offer "authentic" experiences, straight from the pages of the pulps; and places like Mona's, in the twilight world of forbidden love, where the discriminated, and persecuted outcasts from conventional society can meet. Six women find their lives as tangled with each other’s as they are with the city they call home. They discover love and danger on the borders where mystery, science, and art intersect.
Last, but not least, kudos to Gregory Manchess, and Christine Foltzer, for the incredible cover, that is featured in the story itself. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 27 2017 Finished: Feb 03 2017
The Eye of the Swan A Tremontaine Story
by Kelly Robson (2016)
My review: The Eye of the Swan, is a stand-alone tie-in short story by Kelly Robson, set in Tremontaine, a fictional world multiple writers are contributing to. In Tremontaine social advantage is best achieved through duels of wit and steel. Mind your manners and enjoy the chocolate in a dance of sparkling intrigue, (★★★★)
Started: Jan 27 2017 Finished: Jan 27 2017
The Maiden Thief
by Melissa Marr (2016)
My review: An exquisite dark fairy tale novelette about a teenager whose town is plagued by the annual disappearances of girls and young women. The young protagonist fears for her sister to be taken, and urge the town to take action. But her sister is taken next, and her father blames her for it. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 27 2017 Finished: Jan 27 2017
Autobiography of a Traitor and a Half-Savage
by Alix E. Harrow (2016)
My review: An interesting alternative history novelette, set during the Westward expansion of the European Colonist, around the Mississippi area. Oona is born by the encounter of the Europeans with the First nation american, and she is despised by both as not belonging to either cultures. She has the power of the western people: by tracing rivers in ink on paper, Oona pins the land down to one reality, allowing the Europeans to settle the American land. This means betraying her people. Can she escape the bonds of gold and blood and bone that tie her to the Imperial American River Company? (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 25 2017 Finished: Jan 26 2017
A Dead Djinn in Cairo
by P. Djeli Clark (2016)
My review: What a beautifully intriguing and entertaining alternative history novelette!
The story is set in a 1912 Cairo (Egypt) where somebody has perforated the wall between our world, and the supernatural one, opening the gates for djinns and angels to enter in our reality. The Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities investigate disturbances between the mortal and the (possibly) divine. What starts off as an odd suicide case for Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha'arawi leads her through the city's underbelly as she encounters rampaging ghouls, saucy assassins, clockwork angels, and plot that could unravel time itself. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 24 2017 Finished: Jan 25 2017
A Pest Most Fiendish
by Caighlan Smith (2016)
My review: A steampunk short story, featuring Miss Pippa Kipling and her automaton companion, the Porter, in their (paid) quest to exterminate pests of the supernatural variety. What should be a typical job in your average haunted cavern soon derails in an inconveniently undead fashion. Even with the aid of her gadget collection and the Porter s prowess, this task may prove fatal for Miss Kipling or worse, rip her petticoat.
I really hope to see more of Miss Pippa and Ms The Porter in the future, they make up an entertaining duo.
(★★★★)
Started: Jan 16 2017 Finished: Jan 16 2017
Chains
by A.J. Hartley (2016)
My review: This is a novelette set before the events of Steeplejack, but it can be read, and appreciated as stand-alone (I did).
The story is very well written, and hard to put down. It deals with some of the worst of our historic inheritance (i.e. colonialism, and xenophobia), and it presents those in a fictional context. It is the story of Anglet Sutonga, that while down to earth and realistic, she still dreams of rising above the impoverished streets of Bar-Selehm. When an opportunity comes along, will she take it? And what does she risk in order not to throw away her shot? (★★★★)
Started: Jan 16 2017 Finished: Jan 16 2017
Seven Salt Tears
by Kat Howard (2017)
My review: A beautiful short story that reads like a fairy tale set in today world. The main character, Mara, is a young girl, raised by the ocean, by a single mother fond of fairy tales of mermaids, and fantastic sea creatures. The mother teaches Mara about the powers bestowed to women to calm or stir hurricanes, until one day, [spoilers removed] (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 16 2017 Finished: Jan 16 2017
Super Bass
by Kai Ashante Wilson (2013)
My review: I am a big fan of Kai Ashante Wilson. I particularly enjoyed his award winning The Devil in America, and his story set in the Wildeep fictional universe. I was eager to read some more by the author, and I discovered this novelette published by Tor. It is a good story, and I can see in it some hints of the themes, greatness, and craft of his later work.
It is the story of Gian, that returns to Sea-john from the Kingdom's wars certain that he has skills beyond killing, death and destruction. He needs to prove to himself that love is just as strong, if not stronger, than his hate. The Summer King gives him this opportunity. (★★★)
Started: Jan 08 2017 Finished: Jan 08 2017
A Taste of Honey
by Kai Ashante Wilson (2016)
My review: An interesting version of a classic coming out story, set in the beautiful and fascinating world that Kai Ashante Wilson introduced us to in The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. I will not say much to avoid any spoiler, but I loved reading this story (even if I was a little disappointed by the ending).
Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods. Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. in defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them. (★★★★★)
Started: Dec 25 2016 Finished: Dec 28 2016
The Thing About Growing Up in Jokertown
by Carrie Vaughn (2016)
My review: An entertaining short story set in the George R.R. Martin's Wildcard universe. It is intended as a prequel of another, longer novel, but it can be enjoyed as stand-alone. The story focuses on 3 young jokers, living and growing up facing discrimination in New York City... An enjoyable short story full of hope. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 23 2016 Finished: Dec 23 2016
Caligo Lane
by Ellen Klages (2016)
My review: A short story set in Franny Travers' fictional universe. It can be enjoyed (and I did enjoyed it) as a stand alone story, but I am left wanting to learn and read more about this memorable character. Franny is a cartographer of exceptional ability. From her house high above the cascading hills of San Francisco, she creates maps that, when folded properly, can transform space. This is her gift. These temporary new alignments of the world open improbable passages, a last resort when politics or geography make escape impossible. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 22 2016 Finished: Dec 23 2016
Dragons of Tomorrow
by Kathleen Baldwin (2016)
My review: After the collapse of civilization Nora and her family live a quiet life in the Midwestern Plains until a great fiery god of the sky descends and makes her an irresistible offer, an offer that will take her away from those she loves forever. (★★)
Started: Dec 23 2016 Finished: Dec 23 2016
The Story of Kao Yu
by Peter S. Beagle (2016)
My review: The Story of Kao Yu is a beautiful short story set in ancient China. It is the story of an aging judge traveling through rural China, and of a criminal he encounters.
While the story was written by a Western author, Peter Beagle, it mimics the style of old West Asian fables and legends. Of the story, Beagle says it "comes out of a lifelong fascination with Asian legendry, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Indonesian, all drawn from cultures where storytelling, in one form of another, remains a living art. As a young writer I loved everything from Robert van Gulik’s Judge Dee mysteries to Lafcadio Hearn’s translations of Japanese fairytales and many lesser-known fantasies. [It is intended as] a respectful imitation of an ancient style, and never pretends to be anything else. But I wrote it with great care and love, and I'm still proud of it". (★★★)
Started: Dec 19 2016 Finished: Dec 20 2016
The Forest Girl
by L.E. Modesitt Jr. (2016)
My review: I am not familiar with the acclaimed novels of L.E. Modesitt Jr, but this story can be read and appreciated as stand-alone (even if I suspect that fan of her work would love it even more). It is an entertaining novelette, the origin story of Alyiakal, that is to became a historical figure in this fictional world, before he became a legend to be feared, and respected. (★★★)
Started: Dec 20 2016 Finished: Dec 20 2016
Clover
by Charlie Jane Anders (2016)
My review: This short story is set in the world of All the Birds in the Sky, and answers what I am told is the question that readers continue to ask the author: what happened to Patricia's cat? I have not read the book yet, but I enjoyed this short story quite a lot, and I now want to read it.
This is the story of a cat that brings luck to its owners, a young couple that receive it as a gift from a mysterious visitor. But the lucky cat, may not be a cat after all, and the young couple must learn to thrive, even without the magic feline luck. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 17 2016 Finished: Dec 17 2016
Recalled to Service
by Alter S. Reiss (2016)
My review: A remarkable standalone short story set in Alter Reiss' Shoesi fictional world. It is the story of Ao Laiei, that has the necromancer power to bring back the dead. She resurrected the great revolutionary war hero Uroie Aei, but to her surprise he vanished and she does not know what happened to him. She intends to find out, and she is working hard to track him. Finally, a clue from an unlikely information source, the confusing art of dream-diving, enables her to be present for a surprising strike against an academic aligned with the revolutionary government. Laiei quickly discovers that it is not the physical target she is concerned with, but his field of study, which may unlock the secret of what mysterious deeds the elusive Uroie Aei has been up to since his disappearance... (★★★)
Started: Nov 29 2016 Finished: Nov 29 2016
Lullaby for a Lost World
by Aliette de Bodard (2016)
My review: In this (very) dark fairy tale, Charlotte died to shore up her master's house. Her bones grew into the foundation and pushed up through the walls, feeding his power and continuing the cycle. As time passes and the ones she loved fade away, the house and the master remain, and she yearns ever more deeply for vengeance. (★★★)
Started: Nov 20 2016 Finished: Nov 21 2016
Rappacini's Daughter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne (2003)
My review: A very interesting Gothic novelette, with very modern and actual themes (e.g. creation and manipulation of life forms). The main character is Giovanni Guasconti, a student at the University of Padua, that discovers a garden of the most exquisite beauty next to his rented appartment. In it abides a young woman, perhaps the most beautiful Giovanni has ever seen; yet as he looks out from an upstairs window, he soon learns that the garden, and the matchless Beatrice, are not the work of Mother Nature but rather the result of monstrous scientific creativity. (★★★)
Started: Nov 10 2016 Finished: Nov 11 2016
Typecasting
by Harry Turtledove (2016)
My review: An alternative history short story, set in the (fictional) state of Jefferson, in a world where Bigfoots and Yetis are real, and mix with people. The Governor of Jefferson is one of the tall people, tring to help his daughter, an aspiring actress, to get the role she worked so hard for. (★★★)
Started: Oct 18 2016 Finished: Oct 19 2016
Dune Time
by Jack Nicholls (2016)
My review: A very interesting short story, that mixes very modern elements (technology, and unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa), with traditional ones (Islamic lore, legends and folk-tales) with quite interesting results. This is the story of Hasan, that is sent to help his brother in a remote area by the desert, to stay low and avoid the police. The brother is working on a filming project for BBC, that requires patience and time. During this time the two brothers discuss politics, religion, and old legends that may turn out to not be just old folks tales. (★★★)
Started: Oct 16 2016 Finished: Oct 16 2016
The Cold Flame
by Joan Aiken (2016)
My review: This is a very intriguing and original story, set in a world where the dead can get back in touch for us to ask us to wrap up their unfinished business. In the case of Patrick, recently dead falling inside the caldera of a volcano, the unfinished business is getting his poems published. He asks his friend Ellis to take care of it, but it warns her that it is going to be hard because his estranged mother is going to be on the way. The mother is a remarkable villain, adroitly crafted and described. I was left unhappy by the conclusion, that I have to admit, it is quite clever and really fit the rest of the story (and I will not say more, to avoid any spoiler). (★★★★)
Started: Oct 16 2016 Finished: Oct 16 2016
Library of Souls (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #3)
by Ransom Riggs (2015)
My review: The end of an original and peculiar series, that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I enjoyed the previous two books in the series, but I was a little bit disappointed by this one. While it is entertaining and enjoyable, there are few elements of it that grates me: first of all the revelation that Caul's objectives were not the ones previously described feels like an abrupt and unplanned turn in the story. Also, the previous books are set during the horrors of world war II, and help creating a particular feel, that is not found in this third installment. Last but not least, the peculiar vintage photos that are so central to this series, are often very loosely connected to the plot, and it feels like the author run out of photos, and had to start fishing from the discard pile. As a result Library of Souls does not fit well with the rest of the trilogy.
In this book, Jacob, Emma, and Addison are desperately looking for the kidnapped Miss Peregrines and the rest of her peculiar children. They end up in the labyrinthine alleys of Devil's Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. (★★★)
Started: Oct 08 2016 Finished: Oct 16 2016
The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)
by N.K. Jemisin (2016)
My review: The second installment of the broken Earth trilogy is incredibly good (even if not as good as the first one). In The Obelisk Gate the focus changes on the relationship between Essun and her daughter Nassun: the book explores how oppression changes and destroys regular family dynamics, when the only instrument of a mother to protect her daughter is to harden her to be able to survive an harsh reality, and its kyriarchy. This is also the story of Castrima, a city free of oppression in times of plenty, but on the bring of sacrificing the most unpopular of its citizens in time of crises. And this is the story of Alabaster, that broken by loss it may have started the end of the world. (★★★★★)
Started: Sep 11 2016 Finished: Sep 22 2016
Dragonlance Reread
by Mahvesh Murad (2016)
My review: I grew up reading the (many) Dragonlance novels. It was fascinating to revisit the trilogy that started it all, through the eyes of Mahvesh and Jared, few chapter at a times over one year and an half. I confess I had forgotten much of the story, but not the beloved characters, that are unforgettable.
I would recommend this only to Dragonlance fans, and as an interesting book club support material for those of you that never had visited Krynn before, and they are getting ready to. (★★★)
Started: Feb 01 2015 Finished: Sep 02 2016
The Key to the Coward's Spell
by Alex Bledsoe
My review: I did not read any of Alex Bledsoe medieval noir stories, but I was able to enjoy this short story as stand-alone without any problem.
Eddie LaCrosse is a sword jockey, that has been implored by some friends to retrieve their missing kid. While nursing an injured arm, he discovers a smuggling ring rumored to be protected by powerful magic...
Trigger warning: sex trade, pedophilia, sex slavery. (★★)
Started: Aug 31 2016 Finished: Aug 31 2016
Up From Hell
by David Drake
My review: An entertaining short story, set at the dawn of the Roman empire. Taranis and his men forage for the collected tribes of the Crow as they march against the Romans, but he brings back more than he bargained for when he frees a beautiful and mysterious prisoner, Alpnu. Together they face a power sealed in a cave for millennia and newly risen from Hell. (★★)
Started: Aug 29 2016 Finished: Aug 30 2016
Ratspeak
by Sarah Porter (2016)
My review: A very bizarre yet entertaining short story, with a really disappointing ending. The main character, young Ivan, realizes that the rats living in New York City can speak, and he is obsessed about learning their language. One day he saves a young rat in the subway station from being stomped on by some other boys, getting beaten by the boys for his trouble. As a reward, the rat mother offers riches and fortunes, but Ivan decide to learn the rat language instead. The choice comes at a price though. (★★)
Started: Aug 29 2016 Finished: Aug 29 2016
Uprooted
by Naomi Novik (2015)
My review: Naomi Novik has already established herself as a talented author with her Temeraire series, and her latest fairy tale / coming-of-age novel does not disappoint. The story is told from the point of view of Agnieszka, a young 17 year old that, growing up in the land of the Dragon, a powerful wizard constantly fighting the evil wood. Every 10 year a young girl is selected by the Dragon, and kept in his tower. Everybody expects Kasia, Agnieszka's best friend, to be the choose one, but hings do not always go as expected...
While the plot is, from many point of view, the one of a typical classical fairy tale, there are many modern elements, including the gender dynamics. What makes this book special though, is how entertaining and impossible to put down it is.
(★★★★★)
Started: Jul 02 2016 Finished: Jul 08 2016
The Builders
by Daniel Polansky (2015)
My review: I read this book as part of my 2016 Hugo awards finalist marathon.
This is the story of the Captain and his company, that fought for the losing monarch in the battle of the two twin brothers. After that, for the Captain's company, survival has meant keeping a low profile, building a new life, and trying to forget the war they lost. But now the Captain's whiskers are twitching at the idea of evening the score.
I am not a big fan of stories featuring anthropomorphic furry characters, and dark and gritty war stories, but despite that I still find it enjoyable. You may like it more than me if you are more into that genre than me. (★★★)
Started: Jun 18 2016 Finished: Jun 25 2016
The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)
by N.K. Jemisin (2015)
My review: Probably the best story I have read in years. It is very rare to find a book that have it all: exquisite writing, moving, intriguing, and enticing story, memorable characters, astounding and original world building. The Fifth Season is at the same time impossible to put down, and deep. It is the kind of book it will stay with you and make you think.
The book has three subplots adroitly waved together. The first is the story of Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. The second is the story of Damaya, a young girl that is discovered to be a powerful orogene, and as such kept in a barn as a beast by her parents, to soon be given away. The third is the story of Damaya, growing locked up and used as a de-humanized weapon by the fulcrum.
This is an ambitious trilogy, that while set in a world so different from ours, it succeed like no other in exploring issues like slavery, oppression, discrimination, and taboos. A strongly recommended read.
This is one of the Hugo Award Finalist in the Best Novel category. I wrote more about this and the other finalist in this blog post.
(★★★★★)
Started: Jun 05 2016 Finished: Jun 18 2016
Six-Gun Snow White
by Catherynne M. Valente (2015)
My review: Six-Gun Snow White is a retelling of an old fairy tale, that makes unmistakably explicit the sexual, gender, and ethnic violence that is often implicit in fairy tales, so as to bring the reader face to face with what dominant culture pretties up and romanticizes. Gone are the fairy tales tones and colors, replaced by gritty details, and a hard, verist style where the fairy tales elements are used as metaphors and allegories, or to give more depth to the story.
This is the story of Six Gun Snow White, born of a Nevada silver baron who forced the Crow people to give up one of their most beautiful daughters, Gun That Sings, in marriage to him. With her mother's death in childbirth, so begins a heroine's tale equal parts heartbreak and strength. This girl has been born into a world with no place for a half-native, half-white child. After being hidden for years, a very wicked stepmother finally gifts her with the name Snow White, referring to the pale skin she will never have.
Trigger warning: the story contains visual depictions of sexual violence, xenophobia, and first nation destruction (intended as a way to showcase their horror).
This was one of the finalist for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 2013. See my reviews of the other finalist. (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 24 2016 Finished: Apr 29 2016
Finnegan's Field
by Angela Slatter (2016)
My review: In Irish lore, when children go under the hill, they don’t come out again. Ever. When children go under the hill, they stay where they’re put. Forever. When children go under the hill, parents, though they pray and search, don’t truly think to see them anymore. Never.
But things do not always follow the Irish tradition in the predominately Irish Finnegan's Field, a small Australian town. Anne's daughter, the now 9 year old Madrigal, came back after going under the hill for 3 years. But is it really Madrigal that came back? (★★★★)
Started: Apr 23 2016 Finished: Apr 24 2016
First Kill
by Jennifer Fallon (2016)
My review: This is a short teaser story set in The Lyre Thief universe. It can be appreciated on its own as a stand-alone story.
In First Kill, assassin Kiam Miar will find out when his first assignment goes awry and he is faced with an ethical choice…as if assassins could have ethics. And if he makes the wrong choice, he could not only lose his life but throw a good chunk of his world into chaos.
Kudos to Tommy Arnold for the incredible cover! (★★★)
Started: Apr 24 2016 Finished: Apr 24 2016
The Glass Galago (Hidden Sea Tales, #0.5)
by A.M. Dellamonica
My review: I tend to avoid prequels if I haven't read the series before, but I am glad I did read this one. The characters are interesting, and the plot is entertaining.
This is the story of Gale Feliachild and Captain Parrish. They are called back to the fleet to handle an issue involving a law regulating new patents and a missing magical inscription. They soon find themselves embroiled in a plot that is could potentially pit island against island. Now, they must discover the mystery of the glass galago before time runs out for both it and the fleet. (★★★)
Started: Apr 23 2016 Finished: Apr 23 2016
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps (The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, #1)
by Kai Ashante Wilson (2015)
My review: The Devil in America is one of my favorite books, and I was thrilled to get a chance to read more by the same author. While not as good as his previous novella, this is a remarkable book. It is not a easy read: the plot is far from linear, and the style is an odd yet interesting mix of sophisticated and refined writing, main street talking, and scientific jargon. The grammar and the word choices are often unusual to force the read to go back and read the text multiple times to understand its meaning. Despite this difficulty, the style works, it helps in world and characters building.
This is the story of Demane, an earthbound demigod, also knows as the sorcerer, since he left his homeland. With his ancestors' artifacts in hand, the Sorcerer follows the Captain, a beautiful man with song for a voice and hair that drinks the sunlight. The two of them are the descendants of the gods who abandoned the Earth for Heaven, and they will need all the gifts those divine ancestors left to them to keep their caravan brothers alive. The one safe road between the northern oasis and southern kingdom is stalked by a necromantic terror. Demane may have to master his wild powers and trade humanity for godhood if he is to keep his brothers and his beloved captain alive. (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 18 2016 Finished: Apr 23 2016
Two’s Company
by Joe Abercrombie (2016)
My review: I usually avoid reading short stories set in the world of a book saga without reading the saga before, but I did not realize that Two's Company was not a stand-alone story, but part of the First law series. Well, I am l glad I read it, because I immensely enjoyed it.
The plot is relatively simple and unremarkable: lost in the wide and barren North, Javre, Lioness of Hoskopp, runs into Cracknut Whirrun on a bridge far too narrow for the expansive egos of either. With the King of the Northmen and the High Priestess of Thond in pursuit, can Shevedieh, the greatest thief in Styria, persuade either one of these proud heroes to step aside?
What makes this story shine, is the remarkable humor. I found myself laughing out loud while reading this. Reading this story made me want to read more from this author. (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 04 2016 Finished: Apr 04 2016
The Quest of Iranon
by H.P. Lovecraft (2014)
My review: Lovecraft's stories can be divided in two categories: the ones that deals with cosmic horrors, and the one set in the fantastic Dreamlands. This short story falls into the second category. While, as all the dreamland stories, it is very slow paced, and overly Dunsanian, its conclusion is quite intriguing. I would no say more to avoid spoilers.
It is the story of Iranon, an artist that cannot age, looking for his lost home, Aira, the fabulous city where his father was king. For long years he has been looking for it with no success, but he never gave up, always singing about the marble and beryl city, its fragrant groves, its verdant valley, its many colored hills and the river Nithra that flows at night like a ribbon of stars. One day, along the way, he stops in Teloth. The gods of this city demand that all men toil ceaselessly, and so an archon of the city tells Iranon he must apprentice to a cobbler or leave. He decide to leaves, but he bring with him a small boy, Romnod, who seems sympathetic to Iranon cause, and who suggests that they head for Oonai... (★★)
Started: Apr 02 2016 Finished: Apr 03 2016
Cold Fires
by Mary Rickert (2015)
My review: Two very different stories, sewn together by a thing story. The result is worse than the sum of its parts: while the two sub stories would have been quite remarkable as stand-alone stories, they are very different stylistically and in the settings, and they do not fit well together. (★★★)
Started: Apr 01 2016 Finished: Apr 02 2016
The Log Goblin
by Brian Staveley (2015)
My review: It's winter, but the narrator, a land owner, is prepared: he has a huge pile of wood in his backyard. It came from a very old tree on his land, that he had to cut because it was sick and dying. The pile of wood seems to became smaller and smaller each day. Puzzled, the narrator decides to keep an eye on the pile to figure out what is going on.
This is a very touching story, that I enjoyed reading quite a bit. I found the ending a little disappointing though (I will not say more to avoid spoilers). (★★★)
Started: Mar 31 2016 Finished: Apr 01 2016
Ex Oblivione
by H.P. Lovecraft
My review: Ex Oblivione is a prose poem, written in first person. It tells of the dreams of a presumably dying man. In his dreams, the man is walking through a valley and encounters a vine-covered wall with a locked bronze gate therein. He longs to know what lies beyond the gate, described inconsistently by the few wise-men that made it though either as something incredible, or as a ig disappointment. (★)
Started: Mar 30 2016 Finished: Mar 30 2016
The Great Detective
by Delia Sherman (2016)
My review: An entertaining steampunk short story, in a clockwork version of Sherlock Holmes' UK. While it can be enjoyed on its own, this is the sequel of The Ghost of Cwmlech Manor, and I recommend reading the stories in order to enjoy them at the fullest (I did not, and I regretted it).
In this second installment, Sir Arthur Cwmlech's home is robbed and the Illogic Engine, his prize invention, stolen, it is only natural that he and his clever assistant Miss Tacy Gof consult with another inventor, the great Mycroft Holmes, about who has taken it. But it is really Mr. Holmes' Reasoning Machine who they are there to see, for it is only fitting for one automaton to opine on a matter concerning the fate of another of its kind. (★★)
Started: Mar 22 2016 Finished: Mar 22 2016
That Game We Played During the War
by Carrie Vaughn (2016)
My review: A powerful and moving story, that adroitly portray the relationship between two Calla and Valk, members of two countries that have been at war until recently. Valk is a citizen of the Gaant, a country of telepaths, while Calla is an Enithian, where people have no mental power. They meet during the war, one prisoner of the other, switching roles at different times. Despite the decade long war, despite the situation, the two build a relation that outlast the way.
This is, by far, one of my favorite stories of the year. (★★★★★)
Started: Mar 17 2016 Finished: Mar 17 2016
Fantasy Magazine, December 2015: Queers Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue
by John Joseph Adams
My review: Fantasy and Lightspeed magazine were unified some time ago. They are very well-known science fiction and fantasy magazine. Even in fantasy, supposedly the genre of limitless possibility, where everyone is invited to the adventure, minorities are often underrepresented. Last year Lightspeed started the "destroy science fiction" series, a yearly program focusing on underrepresented minorities to give them a voice, and to see what they have to offer and to contribute to the genre. In 2014 they focused on sci-fi and women. In 2015 they focused on queer authors and themes, with three specials, one for sci-fi, one for horror, and this one, that focuses on fantasy. Next year they will focus on people of color. While fantasy is considered by many the more open of the literary genres, heterosexual, heteroromantic, and cisgendered are considered the default, to the extent that everything else is "deviation," and must be eyed with suspicion. But all fantasy is real fantasy. Fantasy is vast, and incredible fascinating in all its facets. It is inclusive. Fantasy is about people, and queer people, no matter how they identify [Gay, lesbian, bisexual, demisexual, asexual, pansexual, intersex, transgender, genderfluid, genderqueer.. anyone who fits within the QUILTBAG], are a big part of that. They always have been. They are just sometimes harder to see. So, in the interests of visibility and breaking stuff, Queers Destroy Fantasy! will show you just how wide the spectrum of sexuality and gender identity can really be. This special all-queer issue features original fantasy short stories from many award winning authors including Christopher Barzak, Kai Ashante Wilson, Catherynne M. Valente, Richard Bowes, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Nicola Griffith, Shweta Narayan , Ellen Kushner, and Charlie Jane Anders. The issue also include an interesting assortment of author and artist spotlights, interviews, nonfiction features, plus personal essays from writers about their experiences being queer reading and writing fantasy.
Two of the stories deserved a special mention, because of their power and quality: The Duchess & the Ghost, by Richard Bowes, is the story of a young man growing up queer in a time where it was very difficult to do even in the "liberal" New York City, facing his internal fears and ghosts. The Padishah Begum’s Reflections by Shweta Narayan, is the story of a clockwork monarch, adroitly weaved across multiple timelines to form a breathtaking tapestry.
A very interesting read, almost as good as the previous installment of the series that focused on science fiction. I am looking forward reading the next "destroy" issue. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 07 2016 Finished: Mar 15 2016
The Freedom of Navid Leahy
by Jenna Helland
My review: The Freedom of Navid Leahy is a short story set in the world of upcoming Jenna Helland's debut novel, written to lure you into reading the full book. I usually dislike reading these type of short prequels: they often do not stand on their own. This one may have some of the weaknesses of the format, but it is entertaining, and fun to read.
Sevenna City simmers with tension between the ruling elite known as the Zunft and the working-class cottagers. Hoping to regain control, the Zunft cracks down on the cottagers, but their brutality just fuels the flames of rebellion. A cottager boy tries to navigate the dangerous currents of the city but finds himself on a collision course with both the Zunft and the people who want to bring them down. (★★★)
Started: Mar 04 2016 Finished: Mar 05 2016
A Kippled Meal
by Daniel Polansky (2015)
My review: A Kippled Meal, is a very short story, a meditation on the nature of various idealized animals. A mole, a cat, a sloth, a dog, and various other animals discuss their perfect meal, suppers that reveal their innermost instincts, with some more uncouth than others. (★★)
Started: Mar 04 2016 Finished: Mar 04 2016
The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2)
by Terry Pratchett (2004)
My review: This is the second book of the Discworld series, that now includes 40+ books, and it is considered one of the most famous and important work in the genre.
The books takes of where The Colour of Magic left off, and completes the storyline bringing it to a satisfying end. The two books are often considered a duology, or two halves of the same book.
IN The light fantastic the very fabric of time and space are about to be put through the wringer, in this instance by the imminent arrival of a very large and determinedly oncoming celestial body. The circumstances require a very particular type of hero. Sadly what the situation does not need is a singularly inept wizard, still recovering from the trauma of falling off the edge of the world. Equally it does not need one well-meaning tourist and his luggage which has a mind of its own. Which is a shame because that's all there is. (★★★★★)
Started: Feb 26 2016 Finished: Mar 03 2016
Bridge of Snow (The Winner's Trilogy, #0.5)
by Marie Rutkoski (2014)
My review: This is a story within a story, a fairy tale told by a mother to her sick child. The story is relatively simple and unremarkable, but the storytelling and the writing is sublime, and I am looking forward reading more by this author. (★★★)
Started: Feb 14 2016 Finished: Feb 15 2016
The Colour of Magic (Discworld, #1)
by Terry Pratchett (2005)
My review: This is the book that started it all: it is the first book of the Discworld series, that now includes 40+ books, and it is considered one of the most famous and important work in the genre.
On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (of unknown gender), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There's an inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course the edge of the planet.
The structure of the story is episodic: it is split into 4 segments, that could be enjoyed as stand alone stories, featuring the same characters. It is impossible to not fall in love with the main characters, not to smile reading about their misadventures, often respectfully and lovingly making fun to some other important fantasy masterpieces.
The book finishes with a big cliff-hunger ([spoilers removed]), and the adventure continues (and it is concluded) in The Light Fantastic. The two books should be considered a duology, or two halves of the same book. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 23 2016 Finished: Feb 06 2016
The Tree
by H.P. Lovecraft (2014)
My review: One of my least favorite of Lovecraft's short stories, set in ancient Greek, featuring two very talented and mythical sculptors, that loved each other as if they were brothers or more. They are set to compete against each other, but one of the two gets sick. Things take an unexpected twist from there. (★)
Started: Jan 22 2016 Finished: Jan 23 2016
In the Greenwood
by Mari Ness (2013)
My review: I do not want to spoil the story, so I will not say much. This is an interesting new fresh take of an old story, similarly to what is done in the work of (Wicked) Gregory Maguire. I am looking forward reading more by this author. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 28 2015 Finished: Dec 28 2015
The White Ship
by H.P. Lovecraft
My review: This is one of the first stories written by Lovecraft, with many of the themes and ideas that will be developed later on in the Dreamland stories.
This is the story of a lighthouse keeper named Basil Elton. He engages upon a peculiar fantasy in which a bearded man piloting a mystical white ship is found sailing upon a bridge of moonlight. Elton joins the bearded man on this ship, and together they explore a mystical chain of islands unlike anything that can be found on Earth. (★★)
Started: Dec 17 2015 Finished: Dec 17 2015
Join, or Die
by Alan Gratz (2015)
My review: A short story set in Gratz's alternative steampunk history, featuring Benjamin Franklin, his young assistant Willow Dent, and their indefatigable machine man Mr. Rivets as they battle sea serpents and fish-men in the alternate story of the Boston Tea Party. (★★)
Started: Nov 03 2015 Finished: Nov 03 2015
Waters of Versailles
by Kelly Robson (2015)
My review: I cannot believe I am giving 4 stars to a story about toilets!
Waters of Versailles by Kelly Robson is a great novella of court intrigue in 1738 Versailles. It is the story of a clever former soldier that makes his fortune by introducing a modern water system (and toilets) to the ladies of the palace. He does this with magical help that he may not be able to control.
Whats sets the story apart (well, beside toilets), is the main character, that left his home in the Alps behind to move up in the social ladder working hard in Versailles. Interestingly enough, it is a spirit he brought from his homeland, a magical nixie, that helps him ascend. It is a story of an emigrant finding success and wealth abroad, to then realize how much he has left behind. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 01 2015 Finished: Nov 02 2015
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
by H.P. Lovecraft (2015)
My review: I have never been to found of Lovecraft's dreamland novels (with only few notable exceptions, like the Through the Gates of the Silver Key), but this one is the worst by far. The language is so heavy and sumptuous, the story, if there is any, is all over the place. It reads like the raving of a inebriated drug user.
The story starts with Randolph Carter dreaming three times of a majestic sunset city, but each time he is abruptly snatched away before he can see it up close. When he prays to the Gods to reveal the whereabouts of the phantasmal city, they do not answer, and his dreams of the city stop altogether. Undaunted, Carter resolves to go to Kadath, where the gods live, to beseech them in person. However, no one has ever been to Kadath and none even knows how to get there. In dream, Randolph Carter descends "the seventy steps to the cavern of flame" and speaks of his plan to the priests Nasht and Kaman-Thah, whose temple borders the Dreamlands. The priests warn Carter of the great danger of his quest and suggest that the gods withdrew his vision of the city on purpose... (★)
Started: Oct 28 2015 Finished: Nov 01 2015
Through the Gates of the Silver Key
by H.P. Lovecraft
My review: This sequel to the famous The Silver Key was written as a collaboration between H. P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price. Price initially wrote it, and Lovecraft ended up rewriting it, keeping many of Price ideas and concepts. While this may not be one of the most entertaining of Lovecraft's novella, its dreamland raving are slow paced and often pointless, this is one of the most interesting. Some of the elements are alien to Lovecraft's mythos (pun intended), and this novel philosophical Platonian elements are intriguing.
The story begins at a gathering to decide the fate of Randolph Carter's estate which has been held in trust since his disappearance the mysterious Swami Chandraputra, who wears curious mittens and enveloping robes, tells Carter's acquaintances of his ultimate fate. He explains that the key took Carter to a type of higher dimension. There, Carter, on an ill-defined mission (or out of sheer curiosity), traveled strange sections of the cosmos by first meeting with 'Umr at-Tawil, a dangerous being warned of in the Necronomicon, saying those who deal with it never return. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 27 2015 Finished: Oct 27 2015
Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #2)
by Ransom Riggs
My review: Hollow City is the second book of the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series, a YA fantasy series waved around peculiar vintage photography that is used to illustrate what is happening. The author collected many of these photos over the years and he imagined a story around them. The result is an entertaining and unusual reading experience.
This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine's island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.
(★★★)
Started: Oct 20 2015 Finished: Oct 27 2015
Flow
by Arlan Andrews (2014)
My review: This 2015 Hugo Award nominee is an interesting and fascinating short story. Despite being featured in the infamous puppy slate, I actually liked it. I believe it has a lot of potential, even if it reads like a chapter of a long story, where the author is adroitly crafting an entire world populated by many interesting cultures, to set up the scene for what is coming next... but nothing come next. The story is interrupted almost at a cliff hanger, leaving the reader curious to know what is happening next. This is what make the novel unworthy of a Hugo. I hope that the author will continue the story and make it grow to its full potentials. I strongly believe that while this story is an incomplete piece of a puzzle, once other pieces fall into place a Hugo worthy final story may be revealed. I am looking forward reading more of this word and of this story.
Update: I recently learned there is already a second short story of the series. It is called Thaw. I will be reading it soon. (★★★)
Started: Oct 19 2015 Finished: Oct 20 2015
There’s A Devil Watching Over You
by Marc Turner (2015)
My review: I am always wary of reading short "tie-in" stories set in the world of previously published book sagas. They are often not as good, or they require reading the saga to really appreciate them. In this case, I was proven wrong. I did enjoy the story without not knowing anything about Turner's "Haven's Fall" universe.
This is the story of Safiya and her fellow bandits. They thought they had found an easy mark, but they quickly learned that they picked the worst possible victim. Now Luker Essendar, one of the warrior Guardians of Erin Elal, is after them, and his relentless pursuit is driving the bandits toward an abandoned fort, one that appears strewn with evidence of a terrible battle. But nothing is exactly as it seems... (★★★)
Started: Oct 13 2015 Finished: Oct 13 2015
The Silver Key
by H.P. Lovecraft (2012)
My review: An interesting dreamworldshort story that ties in many Randolph Carter's stories together. The plot would be interesting, but its philosophical message takes to much space and it is of relatively little interest.
In this story Carter discovers, at the age of 30, that he has gradually lost the key to the gate of dreams. As he ages, he finds that his daily waking exposure to the more "practical", scientific ideas of man, has eventually eroded his ability to dream as he once did, and has made him regretfully subscribe more and more to the mundane beliefs of everyday, waking "real life". But still not certain which is truer, he sets out to determine whether the waking ideas of man are superior to his dreams. (★★★)
Started: Oct 11 2015 Finished: Oct 12 2015
The Museum and the Music Box
by Noah Keller (2015)
My review: I am not particularly fond of this short story. As one other goodread user ( Karen) said, what actual "story" there is is pretty ambiguous. You are presented with a series of images and given the opportunity to infer enough to be reasonably satisfied, but it's an elusive little slippy number, and the reader is kind of abandoned in the flow of the prose. The prose is heavy and overwritten, while the story has little substance: fragmented texts that tell the history of a lost love, the destruction of a civilization, and the origin of a museum. (★★)
Started: Oct 10 2015 Finished: Oct 11 2015
Kingmaker
by Lindsay Smith (2015)
My review: A very interesting story, I just hope that there is going to be a sequel. A lot of plot threads are not resolved, and I really would like to see them unravel.
This is the story of Vera, a spy for the Barstadt Empire, a powerful country with a rigid class structure and a seedy underbelly. Her mission is to weed out the corruption that holds this society together, but for Vera it is not political, it is personal. And her next mission is anything but routine, as long as she is not blinded by revenge and can see that in the shadows of Barstadt City, things are seldom what they seem. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 26 2015 Finished: Sep 26 2015
The Veiled Prophet (Diablo: The Sin War, #3)
by Richard A. Knaak (2007)
My review: This book is surprisingly enjoyable for being based on a video-game, but Richard A. Knaak has previously demonstrated to be able to handle succesfully this type of books.
In this third and final installment of the Sin War series, Uldyssian faces the host of heaven and the horde of hell. Since the beginning of time, the angelic forces of the high heavens and the demonic hordes of the burning hells have been locked in eternal conflict for the fate of all creation. But the struggle has now spilled over into Sanctuary - the world of men. (★★★)
Started: Aug 08 2015 Finished: Aug 20 2015
Can Long Endure (The End of All Things, #3)
by John Scalzi (2015)
My review: This is the third installment of the serialization of The End of all Things, the latest book set in the Old Man War universe.
The story progresses, and it is now being told from a third distinct point of view: the one of the Colonial Union soldiers: they signed up to defend humans from hostile aliens, but this group finds themselves, instead, repeatedly sent to squelch rebellious human colonies that want to leave the CU. It's not a sustainable situation. Something has to give. Things seems to be building up for a big explosive finale. (★★★★★)
Started: Jun 28 2015 Finished: Jun 28 2015
The Goblin Emperor
by Katherine Addison (2014)
My review: Maia is the latest and least of the child of the elf emperor, born from a marriage with a repudiated goblin princess. Raised in something close to exile by a cruel guardian, he suddenly find himself the new Emperor after the assassination of his father and older brothers.
While the book is a little bit hard to follow at first because of the number of characters (game of thrones has a forth of the characters in 50x more pages), their very complex and hard to remember name, and the complexity of their relationships and of the world politics, it grew on me thanks to the extreme likability of the main character.
The book contains relatively little action, almost everything happens in few rooms of the imperial palace, and the plot has very little surprises to offer (the guys that appear to be the bad guys turn out to be the bad guy, the guys that look like the good guys are the good guys). Despite that, the book is quite a pleasure to read thanks to the adroit characterization of the main character, that while insecure and humble, he is the embodiment of virtue and impossible to dislike.
I wrote more about this and the other Hugo awards nominees for best novel on my blog here: http://goo.gl/Nz5HgV (★★★★)
Started: May 18 2015 Finished: Jun 14 2015
St. Dymphna’s School For Poison Girls
by Angela Slatter (2015)
My review: This is the story of a young girl being schooled in the art of assassination in a private institution.
I did not particularly enjoy this book. Maybe this is due to the fact that this is a sequel to a book that I have not read and I am not familiar with, i.e. Slatter’s Sourdough and Other Stories. (★★)
Started: May 27 2015 Finished: May 29 2015
A Beautiful Accident
by Peter Orullian (2015)
My review: In a culture where ritualized torture is used to teach its people strength through long-suffering, a foreign sufferer unintentionally teaches them something stronger. (★★★)
Started: May 22 2015 Finished: May 22 2015
Elephants and Corpses
by Kameron Hurley
My review: A fun and entertaining short stories, set in a world were a set of mercenaries learn the ability to jump from a corpse to another. This is the story of Nev, one of the corpse jumping mercenaries and his assistant Tera. Tera recognizes the most recent waterlogged cadaver they bought off the street... (★★★★)
Started: May 15 2015 Finished: May 15 2015
A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings
by Leigh Butler (2012)
My review: A cliff-note version of A Clash of Kings, with awesome commentaries. It's the best way to refresh your memory before digging into the following book of the series. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 19 2014 Finished: May 03 2015
Scales of the Serpent (Diablo: The Sin War, #2)
by Richard A. Knaak (2007)
My review: This book is surprisingly entertaining and fun for being based on a video-game, but Richard A. Knaak has previously demonstrated to deliver this type of books.
In this second installment of the Sin War series, Uldyssian is focusing on destroying the evil cult of the Triune, and he does not yet suspect that Inarius, the head of the Cathedral of Light and creator of Sanctuary, has been subtly aiding his quest. But another player has slipped back into the equation. The demon Lilith, once Inarius's lover, seeks to use Uldyssian as her own pawn in a scheme to turn humans into an army of naphalem, godlike beings, as powerful as angels and demons, who could overturn all creation and elevate Lilith to supreme being. (★★★★)
Started: Apr 28 2015 Finished: May 03 2015
The Language of Knives
by Haralambi Markov (2015)
My review: The Language of Knives is centered around the complex death rituals to prepare the body of the husband of the main protagonist. The unnamed main protagonist and his strong-willed daughter follows the customs of how to respect the remains of their loved one, while thinking about their life together. (★★★★)
Started: May 03 2015 Finished: May 03 2015
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
by Terry Pratchett (2006)
My review: Remarkably funny, adroitly written, very entertaining. Two (at the time) almost unknown authors destined to became two of the well-known UK (and world) writers came together to write one of the most read book of the century. I do not want to spoil the fun, but this is the story of the end of the world, long ago foretold by Agnes Nutter, a witch. It's the story of Angels and Demons, of Agnes' descendants and witch-hunters, of the Antichrist and scam occultist... (★★★★)
Started: Mar 28 2015 Finished: Apr 12 2015
Birthright (Diablo: The Sin War, #1)
by Richard A. Knaak (2006)
My review: I usually avoid fiction derived from videogames or movies, but I was playing Diablo III, and I got tempted. What made me decide to read the book was noticing that this trilogy was written by Knaak, that is an author I read and appreciated in the past. He had written a video-game inspired trilogy (i.e. WoW War of the Ancients trilogy) that was actually worth reading and entertaining so I decided to give it a try. This may not be the best of his books (do not get me started on the main female characters of this book, and how disturbingly uninteresting she is), but it is entertaining and there are some interesting Miltonian themes that redeem the book.
Plot: Uldyssian, a simple farmer from the village of Seram, is mistakenly blamed for the grisly murders of two traveling missionaries. He is forced to flee his homeland with his brother and two of his dearest friends. Soon both Uldyssian and his brother starts exhibiting strange new powers and finding themselves in the middle of the eternal conflict between the angelic forces of the High Heavens and the demonic hordes of the Burning Hells. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 23 2015 Finished: Mar 19 2015
Headache [Cuento]
by Julio Cortázar (2014)
My review: What a bizarre story! I am told that Julio Cortázar was a sickly child and spent many hours in bed. Perhaps those memories inspired this story that focuses so much on headaches. (★)
Started: Jan 11 2015 Finished: Jan 11 2015
Father Christmas: A Wonder Tale of the North
by Charles Vess (2014)
My review: This is the fairy tale of Father Christmas. He was an orphan child that fell in love to a beautiful maiden that turned out to be the troll princess (no this does not turn ugly like Princess Fiona in Shrek). Some parts of the story are promising, but others seems quite random. (★★)
Started: Jan 04 2015 Finished: Jan 04 2015
Raising Steam (Discworld, #40, Moist von Lipwig #3 )
by Terry Pratchett (2013)
My review: My word of advice: if you have not read any diskworld novel before, do not start with this one. I made that mistake, and I regretted it. While this can theoretically be read as a stand-alone novel, there are continuous hints of stories from previous books. Even if I could smile at some of the jokes, I was left with the impression that they would be a way more funny if I knew more about the characters. The plot is quite thin, and I have the impression that the most appealing part of the book is to get to read again your beloved characters. Unfortunately, these beloved characters were total strangers for me.
It was not an unpleasant book to read, but I am left with the strong impression that I would have enjoyed it much more if I had read some of the previous books. (★★)
Started: Dec 25 2014 Finished: Dec 31 2014
Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land
by Ruthanna Emrys (2014)
My review: I really like this author (and of The Deepest Rift in particular), but this short story really did not work for me. It reminds me a little of Lovecraft's dreamland stories (that I did not enjoy either). (★)
Started: Dec 25 2014 Finished: Dec 25 2014
Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction
by Jo Walton (2010)
Publisher review: It's 1960, and the Axis powers dominate the world. Life goes on, because, as we see in "Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction," history is driven both by big events and by small temptations… Following the appearance of her first two novels, The King's Peace and The King's Name, Jo Walton won the 2002 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Two years later she won the World Fantasy Award for Tooth and Claw. Her Small Change trilogy, comprising Farthing, Ha'penny, and Half A Crown, is set in a world in which Britain struck an early truce with Hitler in 1941; "Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction" is set in the America of that world.
My rating: ★★★
Started: Dec 15 2014 Finished: Dec 15 2014
A Read of Ice and Fire: Game of Thrones
by Leigh Butler (2011)
My review: A cliff-note version of game of thrones, with awesome commentaries. It's the best way to refresh your memory before digging into the following book of the series. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 12 2014 Finished: Dec 14 2014
Tuckitor's Last Swim
by Edith Cohn (2014)
My review: Despite being a companion short story to Spirit’s Key, Edith Cohn’s debut novel,
this book can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone story.
This is the story of Tuckitor Hatterask and his fierce desire to go for a swim, even though a storm was brewing and he knew it wasn’t a good idea to go into the water. But the forces pulling him toward the ocean are much stronger than he ever could had imagined.
An enjoyable short story with eco-friendly themes. (★★★)
Started: Dec 06 2014 Finished: Dec 07 2014
Where the Lost Things Are
by Rudy Rucker (2014)
Publisher review: Thanks to "bluegene", life is long. But out Route 42 near Goshen, it's also kind of dull. Just the thing to encourage an expedition into the only actual other universe, the place where…but that would be telling.
My rating: ★★★
Started: Nov 24 2014 Finished: Nov 25 2014
The Slow Regard of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicle #2.5)
by Patrick Rothfuss (2014)
Publisher review: Deep below the University, there is a dark place. Few people know of it: a broken web of ancient passageways and abandoned rooms. A young woman lives there, tucked among the sprawling tunnels of the Underthing, snug in the heart of this forgotten place. Her name is Auri, and she is full of mysteries. The Slow Regard of Silent Things is a brief, bittersweet glimpse of Auri’s life, a small adventure all her own. At once joyous and haunting, this story offers a chance to see the world through Auri’s eyes. And it gives the reader a chance to learn things that only Auri knows... In this book, Patrick Rothfuss brings us into the world of one of The Kingkiller Chronicle’s most enigmatic characters. Full of secrets and mysteries, The Slow Regard of Silent Things is the story of a broken girl trying to live in a broken world. AUTHOR’S FOREWORD You might not want to buy this book. I know, that’s not the sort of thing an author is supposed to say. The marketing people aren’t going to like this. My editor is going to have a fit. But I’d rather be honest with you right out of the gate. First, if you haven’t read my other books, you don’t want to start here. My first two books are The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. If you’re curious to try my writing, start there. They’re the best introduction to my world. This book deals with Auri, one of the characters from that series. Without the context of those books, you’re probably going to feel pretty lost. Second, even if you have read my other books, I think it’s only fair to warn you that this is a bit of a strange story. I don’t go in for spoilers, but suffice to say that this one is ... different. It doesn’t do a lot of the things a classic story is supposed to do. And if you’re looking for a continuation of Kvothe’s storyline, you’re not going to find it here. On the other hand, if you’d like to learn more about Auri, this story has a lot to offer. If you love words and mysteries and secrets. If you’re curious about the Underthing and alchemy. If you want to know more about the hidden turnings of my world... Well, then this book might be for you.
My rating: ★★★
Started: Nov 20 2014 Finished: Nov 23 2014
Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza
by Carrie Vaughn (2014)
My review: While this story has many interesting elements, it is hard to enjoy as a stand alone novelette. I am not familiar with the "wild card" universe, and, because of it, I was unable to really enjoy it. (★★)
Started: Nov 01 2014 Finished: Nov 02 2014
The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha, #2.5)
by Leigh Bardugo (2013)
My review: I did not realize this book was a spin-off of a book series, and it can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone novelette. This is the story of a too-clever fox, that learns that just because you avoid one trap, it doesn't mean you'll escape the next. (★★★)
Started: Nov 02 2014 Finished: Nov 02 2014
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman (2013)
My review: Neil Gaiman 's is considered by many one of the most gifted artist of the century. His work is highly recommended by many. I decided to pick up this book when I read its review by one of my favorite authors, Patrick Rothfuss, that its raving about it. I had really high expectations, I was expecting a masterpiece. I was disappointed. The book is good, do not get me wrong, and there are paragraphs in it that are remarkably written. It just did not live up to the hype (for my point of view). (★★★)
Started: Oct 28 2014 Finished: Nov 01 2014
Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch
by Kelly Barnhill (2014)
Publisher review: When Mr. Sorensen - a drab, cipher of a man - passes away, his lovely widow falls in love with a most unsuitable mate. Enraged and scandalized (and armed with hot-dish and gossip and seven-layer bars), the Parish Council turns to the old priest to fix the situation - to convince Mrs. Sorensen to reject the green world and live as a widow ought. But the pretty widow has plans of her own, in Kelly Barnhill's Mrs. Sorenson and the Sasquatch.
My rating: ★★★
Started: Oct 27 2014 Finished: Oct 28 2014
The Girl in the High Tower
by Gennifer Albin (2014)
My review: I am sure that the readers of the "Crewel World" series are going to enjoy this book, but I would not recommend the book to those that are unfamiliar with Albin's dystopian series. The girl in the high tower reads like a movie trailer to me: it give you a taste of what the Crewel world is, and it does make you want to read it, but when you are done you realize you have just read a long advertisement for a book series that has little value in itself. (★)
Started: Oct 28 2014 Finished: Oct 28 2014
Daughter of Necessity
by Marie Brennan (2014)
My review: An interesting new spin of a thousands years old tale. This is the story of Penelope, crafting during the day, unmaking every night. But all this weaving it is not just an expedient to postpone what seems to be inevitable: surely somewhere, in all the myriad crossings of the threads, there is a future in which all will be well. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 19 2014 Finished: Oct 19 2014
House of Many Ways (Howl's Moving Castle, #3)
by Diana Wynne Jones (2008)
My review: Charmain Baker has led a respectable, sheltered life. She has spent her days with her nose in a book, never learning how to do even the smallest household chores. The easy task of house-sitting the tiny cottage of her ill Great Uncle William is complicated by the fact that he is also the Royal Wizard Norland and his magical house bends space and time.
I wrote a longer review of Howl's series on my personal blog here: http://goo.gl/fCB9FO (★★★★)
Started: Oct 02 2014 Finished: Oct 05 2014
Castle in the Air (Howl's Moving Castle, #2)
by Diana Wynne Jones
My review: This is the story of Abdullah, a young and not very prosperous carper dealer in the Sultanates of Rashpuht. One day a stranger walks in and sell him a magical carpet changing his life forever. The book follows Abdullah as he fall for princess Flower-in-the-Night just before she is snatched away by a dijnn, and he travel looking for her. This is not a sequel of Howl's moving Castle in the traditional sense, but many characters from the previous book have a central role in the story, even if they do not really appear until the last third of the book. More about this series in my blog post here: http://goo.gl/fCB9FO
(★★★)
Started: Sep 21 2014 Finished: Sep 26 2014
House of Dreams
by Michael Swanwick (2013)
Publisher review: The fourth in Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Michael Swanwick's "Mongolian Wizard" series of tales set in an alternate fin de siècle Europe shot through with magic, mystery, and intrigue. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
My rating: ★★★★
Started: Sep 21 2014 Finished: Sep 21 2014
Day of the Kraken
by Michael Swanwick (2012)
My review: The third in Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Michael Swanwick's "Mongolian Wizard" series of tales set in an alternate fin de siècle Europe shot through with sorcery and intrigue. As the Mongolian Wizard advances through Europe, Ritter is investigating some crimes that seems to be related to the Roman Catholic church. (★★★)
Started: Sep 19 2014 Finished: Sep 20 2014
The Fire Gown
by Michael Swanwick (2012)
Publisher review: A second “Mongolian Wizard” tale from Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Michael Swanwick – continuing an epic of magic and deception in an alternate Europe of railroads and sorcery..
My rating: ★★★
Started: Sep 19 2014 Finished: Sep 19 2014
Messenger (The Giver Quartet, #3)
by Lois Lowry (2012)
Publisher review: Trouble is brewing in Village. Once a utopian community that welcomed strangers, Village will soon be cut off to all outsiders. As one of the few able to traverse the forbidding Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village’s closing and try to convince Seer’s daughter Kira to return with him before it’s too late. But Forest is now hostile to Matty, too, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it. Messenger is the masterful third novel in Lois Lowry’s Giver Quartet, which includes The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Son—all newly designed!   
My rating: ★★★★
Started: Sep 01 2014 Finished: Sep 07 2014
The Mongolian Wizard
by Michael Swanwick (2012)
My review: This is the first installment of a new book series that is being serialized on-line by Tor. The Mongolian Wizard is set into an alternative universe where Europe is ruled by aristocratic magic users, griffons fly the skies, and phoenix eggs are considered weapons of mass destruction. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 27 2014 Finished: Aug 28 2014
Portrait of Lisane de Patagnia
by Rachel Swirsky (2012)
My review: Renn is the former student of Lisane, a world famous artist genius, that is dying full of regrets for not being able to educate any of her pupil to take over her legacy. After many years, Renn is still heart-broken over the end of her relationship with her mentor, Lisane, that tough her how to capture the essence of her subject into a painting with magic.
This is a story about love, obsession, passion, talent, favoritism, and emotions, beautifully and effectively written. It does not come as a surprise that this novel was shortlisted for the Nebula award. (★★★★★)
Started: Aug 23 2014 Finished: Aug 23 2014
The Windup Girl
by Paolo Bacigalupi (2010)
Publisher review: Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko... Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe. What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism's genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.
My rating: ★★★
Started: Jun 28 2014 Finished: Jul 19 2014
The Silver Gryphon (Valdemar: Mage Wars, #3)
by Mercedes Lackey (1997)
Publisher review: A dozen years of peace have passed in the city of White Gryphon - providing well deserved and much needed security for the people who had lost their homes in the magical Cataclysm which killed the Mage Urtho, creator of the gryphons. But the inhabitants of White Gryphon have not forgotten their long struggles, and have trained an elite guard force, the Silver Gryphons, to protect their city, and if necessary, to join with the army of the Black Kings for mutual defense.
My rating: ★★★★
Started: Jun 02 2014 Finished: Jun 11 2014
Among Others
by Jo Walton (2011)
Publisher review: Startling, unusual, and yet irresistably readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment. Raised by a half-mad mother who dabbled in magic, Morwenna Phelps found refuge in two worlds. As a child growing up in Wales, she played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled--and her twin sister dead. Fleeing to her father whom she barely knew, Mori was sent to boarding school in England–a place all but devoid of true magic. There, outcast and alone, she tempted fate by doing magic herself, in an attempt to find a circle of like-minded friends. But her magic also drew the attention of her mother, bringing about a reckoning that could no longer be put off… Combining elements of autobiography with flights of imagination in the manner of novels like Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude, this is potentially a breakout book for an author whose genius has already been hailed by peers like Kelly Link, Sarah Weinman, and Ursula K. Le Guin.
My rating: ★★★★★
Started: May 27 2014 Finished: Jun 01 2014
A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)
by George R.R. Martin (2011)
Publisher review: Alternate covers can be found here. With A Feast for Crows, Martin delivers the long-awaited fourth volume of the landmark series that has redefined imaginative fiction and stands as a modern masterpiece in the making. After centuries of bitter strife, the seven powers dividing the land have beaten one another into an uneasy truce. But it's not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters of the Seven Kingdoms gather. Now, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed while surprising faces—some familiar, others only just appearing—emerge from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges of the terrible times ahead. Nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages, are coming together to stake their fortunes...and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors.
My rating: ★★★★
Started: Apr 10 2014 Finished: May 24 2014
City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3)
by Cassandra Clare
My review: The mortal instrument is a popular fantasy book series by American author Judith Rumelt (better known by her pen name Cassandra Clare). In this third instalment Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters, to save her mother's life. Unfortunately entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and her best friend, Simon, has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight. This book series is the conclusion of the first story arc, and by far the best of the trilogy. For an in-depth guide to this book series please refer to: http://goo.gl/036Wwg (★★★★)
Started: Feb 15 2014 Finished: Feb 20 2014
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
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)
by Margaret Weis (1994)
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
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
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
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
Land of the Minotaurs (Dragonlance: Lost Histories, #4)
by Richard A. Knaak (1996)
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)
by Richard A. Knaak (2004)
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)
by Patrick Rothfuss (2013)
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
The Legend of Huma (Dragonlance: Heroes, #1)
by Richard A. Knaak (2004)
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). (★★★★)
Started: Jan 12 2013 Finished: Jan 20 2013
The Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien
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. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 27 2012 Finished: Jan 11 2013
The Black Gryphon (Valdemar: 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
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
Sea of Swords (Forgotten Realms: Paths of Darkness, #4; Legend of Drizzt, #13)
by R.A. Salvatore (2009)
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)
by Margaret Weis (2008)
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
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)
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)
by Terry Goodkind (2003)
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)
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
The Spine of the World (Forgotten Realms: Paths of Darkness, #2; Legend of Drizzt, #12)
by R.A. Salvatore (2009)
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
The Silent Blade (Forgotten Realms: Paths of Darkness, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #11)
by R.A. Salvatore (2009)
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
Winds of Fury (Valdemar: Mage Winds #3)
by Mercedes Lackey (1994)
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
Winds of Change (Valdemar: Mage Winds, #2)
by Mercedes Lackey (1993)
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
Passage to Dawn (Forgotten Realms: Legacy of the Drow, #4; Legend of Drizzt, #10)
by R.A. Salvatore (2008)
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)
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
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)
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
Starless Night (Forgotten Realms: Legacy of the Drow, #2; Legend of Drizzt, #8)
by R.A. Salvatore (2008)
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
Of Blood and Honor (WarCraft, #0)
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
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
The Legacy (Forgotten Realms: Legacy of the Drow, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #7)
by R.A. Salvatore (2006)
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
by Mercedes Lackey (1991)
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
The Halfling's Gem (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #3; Legend of Drizzt, #6)
by R.A. Salvatore (2008)
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)
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
The Stolen Throne (Dragon Age, #1)
by David Gaider (2009)
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 (Valdemar: 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)
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 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)
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
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
Sojourn (Forgotten Realms: Dark Elf Trilogy, #3; Legend of Drizzt, #3)
by R.A. Salvatore (2006)
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
Magic's Price (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #3)
by Mercedes Lackey (1990)
My review: This is the final chapter of Vanyel's trilogy. Vanyel is now powerful and treated with awe by everybody, but his life is a hell, because he knows that the enemy will attack everybody he loves to get to him (given that they can hardly get at him directly). A very strong sense of duty keep him going until a young bard enter in his life, teaching him to love again. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 20 2009 Finished: Dec 31 2009
Magic's Promise (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #2)
by Mercedes Lackey (1990)
My review: The hero of this story is Vanyel, a young man, completely crashed and lost after the tragic loss of his love. Unfortunately for him, there is no time to mourn the loss, he is catapulted in the middle of a multi national crisis involving magic, murder, and a young man, Tashir, that just discovered enormous powers inside himself. In the background, young Vanyel and his family come to terms with their differences. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 10 2009 Finished: Dec 19 2009
Day of the Dragon (WarCraft, #1)
by Richard A. Knaak (2001)
My review: I was expecting quite a bad book, given that it was inspired by a videogame. It turned out to be quite a good book. Yes, granted, is not a masterpiece, but I enjoyed reading it quite a lot. The only things I did not like is that the Demon Soul reminds me of the One Ring. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 01 2009 Finished: Dec 09 2009
Exile (Forgotten Realms: The Dark Elf Trilogy, #2; Legend of Drizzt, #2)
by R.A. Salvatore
My review: I was traveling to Japan to attend a conference and I wanted something easy and relaxing to read while there. This was a perfect candidate. Unfortunately, as the previous book of 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: Oct 02 2009 Finished: Oct 05 2009
Dragons of the Highlord Skies (Dragonlance: The Lost Chronicles, #2)
by Margaret Weis (2007)
My review: I was traveling to Japan to attend a conference and I wanted something easy and relaxing to read while traveling. This was perfect. The characters are familiar (I literally grew up reading Weis and Hickman books). A fun read, even if the ending is disappointing, and the turn of the event is often unjustified and illogical. (★★)
Started: Sep 26 2009 Finished: Oct 01 2009
Homeland (Forgotten Realms: The Dark Elf Trilogy, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #1)
by R.A. Salvatore (2005)
My review: When I was young, I always brought with me a pile of books every time I was going on vacation. Many were beach-friendly light reads, fantasy novels. Given that I was again headed to a beach vacation for the first time after many years I bought this one. It was like traveling back in time. There is nothing better than sun, beach, warm ocean and a fantasy book to read while lulled by the sounds of the waves. Regarding this book in particular, it really reads like a prequel. I have the strong feeling that the author wrote a book that was successful and then later decide to add a prequel to ride the success of the previous books. It is a fun book, but there is nothing special. I'll read the following to see if it gets better. (★★)
Started: Aug 06 2009 Finished: Aug 12 2009
The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #3)
by Lemony Snicket (2000)
My review: A pleasant read, entertaining read. I guess I will have to get the next volumes to see what happens to the orphans. (★★★★)
Started: Apr 28 2009 Finished: May 04 2009
The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #2)
by Lemony Snicket (1999)
My review: I received the first volume as a present, and it intrigued me. The style is quite unusual for a children book, and it has a dark cynical tone, but... I enjoyed it. Let's see how the story progresses in the next volumes. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 17 2009 Finished: Jan 25 2009
The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3)
by Philip Pullman (2003)
My review: A great ending for this masterpiece, able to bridge fantasy and philosophy. Undoubtedly one of the best book of the century. As The Hours find its root in Mrs Dalloway and builds on it, similarly this trilogy find its root in Milton's Paradise Lost, as the starting point of a deep and enlightening reflection on human existence. (★★★★★)
Started: May 07 2008 Finished: Jul 04 2008
The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)
by Philip Pullman
My review: WOW, this was quite a surprise! I liked the first book, but this second installment is even better. Some of the themes that were just barely hinted in the previous book are now developed and extended. While the first volume was just an interesting fantasy tale, the second volume is a fantasy modern re-edition of the Romantic rebellion against the authority and traditions in the name of freedom and free will. A modern Paradise Lost. The pace is fast, it is really hard to put this book down (I finished it in 3 days even if I was working on my dissertation... as a result I practically haven't slept!), entertainingly and... it goes quite deeper than expected! I strongly recommended! (★★★★★)
Started: Apr 06 2008 Finished: Apr 09 2008
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)
by Philip Pullman (2007)
My review: I was expecting a fun to read fantasy book, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this book is actually quite a literary masterpiece, with interesting reflections on the role of religion and philosophy. I am looking forward reading the next volumes of the series. (★★★★★)
Started: Mar 08 2008 Finished: Mar 30 2008
Master of Dragons (The Dragonvarld Trilogy, #3)
by Margaret Weis
My review: This is the last book of the Dragonvard trilogy. The first volume was quite interesting, but the following two volumes have been quite disappointing. (★★)
Started: Oct 23 2007 Finished: Oct 25 2007
Eragon (The Inheritance Cycle, #1)
by Christopher Paolini (2005)
My review: It is just another fantasy book, with nothing too special about it. This said, it is quite entertaining. I was quite surprised to learn it was written by such a young writer, because the book is very readable and well-written. (★★★)
Started: Mar 30 2007 Finished: Apr 20 2007
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)
by J.K. Rowling (2006)
My review: I liked reading the Harry potter saga, but this book was not one of the best. It is as entertaining as the previous ones, but it lacks originality, and it is quite similar to all the others. (★★★)
Started: Feb 08 2007 Finished: Feb 18 2007
Dragons in the Archives: The Best of Weis & Hickman
by Margaret Weis (2004)
My review: I grew up reading Weis and Hickman's novels, hence even simple collections of stories like this one manage to stir something deep inside of me: the longing for many nights spent reading as a child, lost into fantastic worlds. Krynn's feels like home, the characters are childhood friends. This anthology collects many stories written in the past 20 years and they witness the creative path of the Dragonlance world. It feels like picking up an old photo album from my childhood. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 04 2007 Finished: Feb 09 2007
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years, #1)
by Gregory Maguire (2000)
My review: I was expecting a fairy tale, a simple, unsophisticated book. I was quite surprised to discover that Wicked is something quite different. While the novel is quite entertaining and fun to read, it is a deep investigation of the nature of Evil and a metaphor of Nazi's Germany. Reality is perceived differently by people and History is written by the winners. This is a surprising literary accomplishment. (★★★★★)
Started: Dec 03 2006 Finished: Jan 06 2007
Oathbreakers (Valdemar: Vows and Honor, #2)
by Mercedes Lackey (1989)
My review: The book is less fragmented than the previous volume of the series, and as fun to read. It's not a masterpiece of the female fantasy movement, but I enjoyed reading it. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 29 2006 Finished: Oct 11 2006
The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #1)
by Lemony Snicket (1999)
My review: The book is extremely cynical and it presents life as a series of unfortunate events. This said, it was a fun book to read. I guess I'll end up reading the whole series. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 23 2006 Finished: Sep 24 2006
Sword and Sorceress III
by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1986)
My review: I was very interested to learn more about the feminist fantasy movement. I discovered the existence and the historical importance of this movement only recently, even if I grew up reading novels of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Jennifer Robertson. This anthology of short stories is a good introduction. It is rather interesting that all the main authors belonging to this movement lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and I find rather intriguing to be living where my favorite childhood authors wrote the stories that kept me enthralled as a child. As a grown up I can now appreciate the courage of some of the plots, how the movement revolutionize a sexist and macho-oriented genre and helped bring forward the image of modern women, free to express themselves and pursue their dreams. (★★★★)
Started: May 20 2006 Finished: May 28 2006
The Dragon's Son (The Dragonvarld Trilogy, #2)
by Margaret Weis
My review: I enjoyed the book but the themes suddenly changed from the previous book. There is almost no mention of the intense love of Bellona and Melisande, almost as if the author was afraid to have risked too much in the previous book. This is a little disappointing. (★★★)
Started: Apr 09 2006 Finished: Apr 24 2006
Draconian Measures (Dragonlance: Kang's Regiment, #2)
by Don Perrin (2012)
My review: The Kang's regimen series is not one of the main books of the Dragonlance saga, but one of the many side plot lines. Surprisingly it is one of the best and most entertaining ones, and I strongly recommend it. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 26 2006 Finished: Mar 29 2006
Mistress of Dragons (The Dragonvarld Trilogy, #1)
by Margaret Weis
My review: It is hard to put down this book when you start reading it, but this does not come as a surprise given that was written by the skillful Margaret Weis. This book really does stand apart from her other ones. The themes and the tones are different, more complex and interesting, closer to the ones of feminist fantasy writers like Marion Zimmer Bradley. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 25 2006 Finished: Mar 08 2006
The Doom Brigade (Dragonlance: Kang's Regiment, #1)
by Margaret Weis (1998)
My review: This is not one of the main books of the dragonlance series, it is one of the many spin offs around it. This said, it is one of the most entertaining ones, and I strongly recommend it. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 21 2006 Finished: Feb 24 2006
Arrow's Fall (Heralds of Valdemar, #3)
by Mercedes Lackey
My review: As for the previous books of the trilogy, the plot feels a little episodic at times. Despite the limitations, the book is entertaining and uplifting, a great example of the 70s/80s woman fantasy movement. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 01 2005 Finished: Dec 02 2005
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)
by J.K. Rowling (2004)
My review: This is by far my favorite Harry Potter book. The tones change, become darker, and more mature. Suddenly what was just a very entertaining story turns into a book with a message. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 01 2005 Finished: Apr 09 2005
Arrow's Flight (Heralds of Valdemar, #2)
by Mercedes Lackey (1987)
My review: As for the previous book of the trilogy, the plot feels a little episodic at times. Despite the limitations, the book is entertaining and uplifting, a great example of the 70s/80s woman fantasy movement. The story features many of the themes that will make Harry Potter a success: an unpopular child that is rescued from an unloving family and sent to a school of magic when she discovers her magical powers. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 08 2004 Finished: Dec 31 2004
Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar, #1)
by Mercedes Lackey
My review: This is the first book set in the Valdemar universe. The author was still a little young and inexperienced, the plot feels a little episodic at times. Despite the limitations, the book is entertaining and uplifting, a great example of the 70s/80s woman fantasy movement. The story features many of the themes that will make Harry Potter a success: an unpopular child that is rescued from an unloving family and sent to a school of magic when she discovers her magical powers. (★★★★)
Started: Apr 30 2004 Finished: May 02 2004
Magic's Pawn (Valdemar: Last Herald-Mage #1)
by Mercedes Lackey
My review: This book has many of the plot elements and virtues of Harry Potter: an unpopular kid, not loved by the family that is raising him, discovers to be a "chosen" with magical powers. It is taken into a college of magic, when he became powerful and popular. What makes this particular book interesting is the touching description of the path towards self-acceptance and self-respect of the main character. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 28 2004 Finished: Mar 03 2004
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)
by J.K. Rowling (2002)
My review: This is by far my favorite Harry Potter book. The tones change, become darker, and more mature. Suddenly what was just a very entertaining story turns into a book with a message. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 13 2003 Finished: Dec 01 2003
Dragons of a Vanished Moon (Dragonlance: The War of Souls, #3)
by Margaret Weis (2003)
My review: The plot becomes more and more intriguing in this last volume of the war of the souls trilogy. (★★★)
Started: Sep 29 2003 Finished: Oct 01 2003
Dragons of a Lost Star (Dragonlance: The War of Souls, #2)
by Margaret Weis (2001)
My review: I was a little thrown off by some inconsistencies with some previous Dragonlance books, the book is quite enjoyable. I found myself reading in the middle of the night just to see what was going to happen next. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 26 2003 Finished: Sep 28 2003
The Eve of the Maelstrom (Dragonlance: Dragons of a New Age, #3)
by Jean Rabe (2002)
My review: The conclusion of the "Dragons of a New Age" trilogy is as fast-paced and entertaining as the previous two instalments. I still miss the "classic" Dragonlance settings, and I do not like the changes introduced with the last editions of the Dragonlance campaign, but this did not prevent me from enjoying the book. (★★★★)
Started: Jun 27 2003 Finished: Jul 09 2003
The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2)
by J.R.R. Tolkien
My review: While the first volume was often too slow paced and fairy-talish, this second one is fast paced, action-packed, and hard to put down. (★★★)
Started: Feb 07 2003 Finished: May 15 2003
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)
by J.K. Rowling (2004)
My review: I quite enjoyed reading the book, but it lacks the originality of the first volume. It's hard to come up with novel ideas to keep the sage intriguing and surprising. (★★★)
Started: Dec 06 2002 Finished: Dec 12 2002
The Day of the Tempest (Dragonlance: Dragons of a New Age, #2)
by Jean Rabe (2002)
My review: This second volume of the ""dragons of a new age" trilogy is as entertaining and fast-paced as the first one. I am still a little put off by the dramatic changes introduced in the Dragonlance 5th age, but this did not prevent me from appreciating the book. (★★★)
Started: Oct 13 2002 Finished: Oct 22 2002
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)
by J.K. Rowling (1999)
My review: Do not get me wrong, I enjoyed reading this book, it was very hard to put down. This said, it lacks the originality of the first volume of the saga: it really feels like a rehashed version of it. (★★★)
Started: Oct 01 2002 Finished: Oct 06 2002
The Dawning of a New Age (Dragonlance: Dragons of a New Age, #1)
by Jean Rabe (2002)
My review: The Ansalon of the new age trilogy is dramatically different from the classic one featured in the previous trilogies by Weis and Hickman. There is really little in common, and this will probably put off every classic Dragonlance fan. This said, the book is quite entertaining, and a pleasure to read. I liked the effort of the author in trying to be inclusive. The book features a diverse set of characters of different ethnicity and with disabilities. (★★★)
Started: Jul 25 2002 Finished: Jul 28 2002
The Soulforge (Dragonlance: Raistlin Chronicles, #1)
by Margaret Weis (1999)
My review: If you are looking for something easy to read to relax after a long day at work, this may be what you are looking for. For the Dragonlance fans, this is a must read book, providing some background on two of the most interesting characters of the chronicle and legends trilogies: the brothers Majere. (★★★)
Started: Jun 03 2002 Finished: Jun 08 2002
Dragons of a Fallen Sun (Dragonlance: The War of Souls, #1)
by Margaret Weis (2001)
My review: The two previous Dragonlance trilogies by Weis and Hickmans are among the favorite books of my childhood. I was literally thrilled to discovered that a new trilogy was available, set in the same world, and featuring the same beloved characters. I expected a sequel of "the second generation". On the contrary a lot has changed, and the reader should first read the "dragons of a new era" trilogy to really enjoy and understand what's happening in this book. (★★★)
Started: May 21 2002 Finished: May 27 2002
The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)
by J.R.R. Tolkien (2003)
My review: I read this book translated in Italian as a young teenager. I did not like it too much then, probably because the translation was poor. I enjoyed reading it more the second time, in its original language. The plot is intriguing and epic, but some parts of the book are just too slow paced (e.g. all he Tom Bombadil segment). (★★★)
Started: Dec 06 2001 Finished: Apr 01 2002
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
by J.K. Rowling (1997)
My review: I really liked the story! It is fun, original and well-written. When you read it, you can almost believe that magic is real. Suddenly I found myself a kid again, satying up late to read "just another chapter". (★★★★)
Started: Dec 04 2001 Finished: Dec 05 2001
The Second Generation (Dragonlance: The Second Generation, #1)
by Margaret Weis (1995)
My review: I was quite eager to meet again the characters I loved so much when I was a kid. I was slightly disappointed by the new generation of heroes, that failed to fascinate me as much as the previous one did. This said, this collection of short stories is entertaining and worth reading for all the Dragonlance fans. (★★★)
Started: Sep 20 2001 Finished: Sep 24 2001
Test of the Twins (Dragonlance: Legends, #3)
by Margaret Weis (2004)
My review: The characters may not be well rounded, but I loved them since I was a kid. I always enjoy meeting them again when I read a Dragonlance book. The ending in particular makes reading the trilogy worth the time spent doing it. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 17 2001 Finished: Sep 19 2001
War of the Twins (Dragonlance: Legends, #2)
by Margaret Weis (2004)
My review: I read it when I was a kid, and I simply loved it at the time. Probably I set my expectations too high, but I was a little disappointed by this book. The plot was not as intriguing as I remembered, and the beloved characters are quite flat. (★★★)
Started: Sep 12 2001 Finished: Sep 16 2001
Time of the Twins (Dragonlance: Legends, #1)
by Margaret Weis (2004)
My review: When I was young, I loved the Dragonlance saga. I was quite disappointed when I read it again as a grown-up: the beloved characters and the plot are so flat! (★★★)
Started: Sep 01 2001 Finished: Sep 05 2001
Dragons of Spring Dawning (Dragonlance: Chronicles, #3)
by Margaret Weis (2003)
My review: The last volume is a really good one, but the ending is a little disappointing: it is quite clear that the authors did want to keep an opening for a possible sequel. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 01 2001 Finished: Sep 01 2001
Waterdeep (Forgotten Realms: Avatar #3)
by Richard Awlinson (1989)
My review: An entertaining conclusion for the trilogy. (★★★★)
Started: Jul 24 2001 Finished: Aug 01 2001
Tantras (Forgotten Relalms: Avatar #2)
by Scott Ciencin (1989)
My review: The second book of this fantasy saga is better than the first... but it far from being remarkable. (★★★★)
Started: Jul 05 2001 Finished: Jul 23 2001
Shadowdale (Forgotten Realms: Avatar #1)
by Scott Ciencin (1989)
My review: I really enjoyed this book when I was young. This time I did not like it as much. The characters are incredibly flat and the plot is not that original. (★★★)
Started: Jun 01 2001 Finished: Jul 04 2001
Dragons of Winter Night (Dragonlance: Chronicles, #2)
by Margaret Weis (2000)
My review: I decided to read some of my childhood favorite fantasy books in their original language, in order to improve my English. I was stressed because I was writing my master thesis. I needed something not to complex to read. This was perfect at the time. The plot gets more interesting in the second volume. (★★★★)
Started: Jun 10 2001 Finished: Jun 13 2001
Dragons of Autumn Twilight (Dragonlance: Chronicles, #1)
by Margaret Weis
My review: This was one of my favorite books when I was a kid, so I decided to read it again in English to improve my English when I moved to the US. It is quite entertaining. I had completely forgot the plot, but not the characters. reading the book felt like meeting again some dear old childhood friends. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 11 2001 Finished: Feb 18 2001
The Seventh Gate (The Death Gate Cycle, #7)
by Margaret Weis (1995)
My review: When I was a young kid I used to read a lot. I was particularly fond of fantasy novels. I started to read the first book of the "Death Gate cycle" when I was 15. I never had the chance to read the last one. When I saw it in the bookshop I bought it immediately. I read the book in one day. (★★★)
Started: Jan 05 2001 Finished: Jan 06 2001
The Mists of Avalon (Avalon, #1)
by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1984)
Publisher review: A Literary Guild Featured Alternate Here is the magical legend of King Arthur, vividly retold through the eyes and lives of the women who wielded power from behind the throne. A spellbinding novel, an extraordinary literary achievement, THE MISTS OF AVALON will stay with you for a long time to come....
My rating: