Marco's readings

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

Reverse Documentary
by Marisela Navarro (2016)
My review: Dino is a documentary filmmaker, haunted by the ghost of his ex-girlfriend who was killed in a car crash while with another man. As Dino shoots his latest documentary on the vandalism occurring in the woods of his hometown, he tries to move on from her unexpected death. But when his life starts to look up, the ghost encroaches on his property. The focus of the film begins to blur as the lens of the camera shifts onto Dino, the director succumbing to his ghostly obsession. (★★)
Started: Dec 24 2016 Finished: Dec 24 2016
Breaking Water
by Indrapramit Das (2016)
My review: This story really shook me. The premise of the story is simple: suddenly dead people come back, not as zombies, but as brainless shells. The protagonist of this story is Krishna, a young man that is quite unsettled when he bumps into a woman's corpse during his morning bath in Kolkata's Hooghly River. Initially he declines to do anything about it, after all, why should he take responsibility for a stranger? But when the dead start coming back to life en mass, he rethinks his position and the debate around how to treat these newly risen corpses gets a lot more complicated. The book presents an unsettling portrait on how society deals with our dead. (★★★★★)
Started: Dec 21 2016 Finished: Dec 22 2016
Those Who Watch
by Ruthanna Emrys (2016)
My review: I am particularly fond of Ruthanna Emrys Lovercarftian stories, and I was not disappointed by this one.
This is the story of a young librarian that finds a job in a beautiful and mysterious library, with many ancient and forbidden tomes, hidden in the middle of Louisiana. She soon find herself literally marked by a strange and ancient book in the collection... (★★★)
Started: Dec 18 2016 Finished: Dec 19 2016
meat+drink
by Daniel Polansky (2016)
My review: A very dark vampire short story, written through the eyes of a young vampires girl. No, this is not the usual romantic young adult supernatural story featuring trendy hot supernatural beings. It is the story of young human forcibly turned into a life of constant hunger, constant fear of being discovered. A life spent hiding, trying to get enough food to stay alive while avoiding unnecessary exposure. (★★★★)
Started: Dec 01 2016 Finished: Dec 01 2016
Blue is a Darkness Weakened by Light
by Sarah McCarry (2016)
My review: I liked this story, a sarcastic take on young adult supernatural romantic novels, with some moment of depth mixed in. The main character is a talented woman, moving to the city hoping to make it as an author, and finding herself working as an assistant to a literary agent. She did not find love as many of the heroines of the books she has to read, but she became friend of a real vampire who comments on the book she is reviewing. Its weakest part is the ending, that is a little underwhelming, after what it was a solid story. (★★★)
Started: Dec 01 2016 Finished: Dec 01 2016
The Weather
by Caighlan Smith (2016)
My review: This incredibly short story, has many interesting, yet just sketched out ideas. It also has a nice narrative voice and interesting characters. Unfortunately it reads as an incomplete draft, as a set of notes for something that could turn into a good story. I can tell that the author is definitely very talented, and I am eager to read more of her, but this story needs some more work. (★★)
Started: Nov 30 2016 Finished: Dec 01 2016
Freedom is Space for the Spirit
by Glen Hirshberg (2016)
My review: A very interesting novelette, that mixes fairy-talish, fantastic, and folk / traditional elements, with historic events, and political commentary.
This is the story of a middle-aged German, drawn back to Russia by a mysterious invitation from a friend he knew during the wild, exuberant period in the midst of the break-up of the Soviet Union. Upon his arrival in St. Petersburg, he begins to see bears, wandering and seemingly lost...
Freedom is Space for the Spirit made me wish I had a better understanding of recent and contemporary Russia history to better appreciate it. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 19 2016 Finished: Nov 20 2016
Red as Blood and White as Bone
by Theodora Goss (2016)
My review: A delightful and dark fairy tale, that mixes history with ancient folk stories and traditions. This is the story of Klara, a poor girl, raised by severe nuns after her father decided he could not raise a daughter without his just deceased wife. Her only escape from the dark reality is a book of fairy tales, forbidden by the nuns, and treasured by the young Klara. She is sent to work as a kitchen girl for a local noble, when one day she discovers a ragged and beautiful woman outside the castle during a storm. She is certain that the woman is a princess in disguise, and decide to take her in... but nothing is as it seems, not even in a fairy tale. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 18 2016 Finished: Nov 18 2016
The Weight of the Dead
by Brian Hodge (2016)
My review: I have never read anything by this author before, but I was pleasantly surprised by this novelette, an interesting mix between post apocalyptic sci-fi and fantasy. The story takes place in a dystopian future, years after a huge solar storm has fried all electronics and civilization broke down. It is the story of two siblings living in a surviving enclave with their father, who's about to be punished for a crime in a brutal and cruel way, prompting the rebellion of his daughter. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 17 2016 Finished: Nov 18 2016
Tom, Thom
by K.M. Ferebee (2016)
My review: Young Tom is being raised by his mother, a widow because of the big war, working hard washing clothes to support her family. He is afraid of wolves, which everyone knows do not exist anymore in England. One day he goes out for a log from the woodpile, and when he returns, there is another Tom, like him, but other. Was this other Thom left behind by the faerie folk? But if so, why didn't they take the real one? An interesting story, with a little disappointing conclusion. (★★★)
Started: Oct 20 2016 Finished: Oct 21 2016
The Pigeon Summer
by Brit Mandelo
My review: This beautiful short story follows J., that recently loss the most important person in hir life. Si tries to escape hir pain and the world, looking hirself up in an apartment with a huge pile of food to avoid having to get out and face the reality. In hir sorrow, si starts communicating with a ghost in writing, and looking after some pigeons just hatching outside hir window. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 16 2016 Finished: Oct 17 2016
The City Born Great
by N.K. Jemisin (2016)
My review: All the great metropolis on Earth, when they get big enough, and old enough, they must be born. Now it's the turn of New York, and a homeless queer black man find himself tasked with the role of facilitate this birth. But nothing it easy: there are mysterious enemies that want to prevent this from happening. Thus New York will live or die by the efforts his reluctant midwife.
I found the short story interesting, in particular the way it touches some very actual themes like xenophobia, and homelessness. The story is not as good as Jemisin's previous work. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 28 2016 Finished: Sep 29 2016
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers
by Alyssa Wong (2015)
My review: A dark and very original reinterpretation of the vampire trope, set in modern day New York. The main character, Jen, an Asian-American woman inherited a curse from the mother: in order to survive she needs to pray on other humans, draining their emotions, feelings, and soul. Completely resigned to live a long life with the curse, she tries to prey only on petty criminals, until she meets a serial killer on a tindr date.
What stands out the most of this story are the characters. In particular Jen, that seems to drown in an ocean of hopelessness, condemning herself to the tragic fate of her mother, living in hiding, and destined to destroy the only single ray of sunshine in her life. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 29 2016 Finished: Aug 29 2016
Small Wars
by Matt Wallace (2016)
My review: Beware, this is a short story set in the world of Matt Wallace's Sin Du Jour series. While I enjoyed reading it as a stand-alone, I have the distinct feeling that I would have loved it more if I had read Envy of Angels first. I liked the writing style, and the humor, and I am likely to read the rest of the series soon.
In this installment of the series, the Sin du Jour procurement team has been tasked with acquiring a substantial cache of rare Welsh gold for a rather important event, but when they stumble upon rivals factions of the smallest warriors they have ever encountered, they will need to bring out the big guns if they are to survive. (★★★)
Started: Apr 24 2016 Finished: Apr 24 2016
The Caretakers
by David Nickle (2016)
My review: A group of people has been called in by the person that helped them over the years. Her behavior is very unreasonable, intimidating, and peculiar, but there are consequences to sever tie with her. (★★)
Started: Apr 24 2016 Finished: Apr 24 2016
Il Maestro e Margherita
by Mikhail Bulgakov (2014)
My review: Uso le parole di Montale per descrivere il libro: "Il Diavolo è il più appariscente personaggio del grande romanzo postumo di Bulgakov. Appare un mattino dinanzi a due cittadini, uno dei quali sta enumerando le prove dell'inesistenza di Dio. Il neovenuto non è di questo parere. Ma c'è ben altro: era anche presente al secondo interrogatorio di Gesù da parte di Ponzio Pilato e ne dà ampia relazione in un capitolo che è forse il più stupefacente del libro. Poco dopo, il demonio, in veste del professore di magia nera Woland, si esibisce al Teatro di varietà di fronte a un pubblico enorme. I fatti che accadono sono così fenomenali che alcuni spettatori devono essere ricoverati in una clinica psichiatrica. Un romanzo-poema o, se volete, uno show in cui intervengono numerosissimi personaggi, un libro in cui un realismo quasi crudele si fonde o si mescola col più alto dei possibili temi: quello della Passione, non poteva essere concepito e svolto che da un cervello poeticamente allucinato. È qui che Bulgakov si congiunge con la più profonda tradizione letteraria della sua terra: la vena messianica, quella che troviamo in certe figure di Gogol e di Dostoevskij e in quel pazzo di Dio che è il quasi immancabile comprimario di ogni grande melodramma russo." (★★★★)
Started: Mar 06 2016 Finished: Apr 17 2016
Fiber
by Seanan McGuire (2015)
My review: Remarkably funny! I was left with the strong impression to have read a chapter of a longer story though: much happened before, and I am left with the impression we haven't heard the last from Heather and her friends. They are a group of five cheerleaders driving with total disregard of the speed limit. But when they head to a rest stop, they drive straight into the middle of a bad horror movie, well, to be fair, as a former zombie, Heather is always in the middle of a horror movie... (★★★)
Started: Mar 29 2016 Finished: Mar 30 2016
A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers
by Alyssa Wong
My review: Hannah and Melanie are two sisters, with the ability to bend time and reality. Unfortunately there are limits of what they can achieve, and when one succumbs to self hate, suicide, family transphobia, and hate crime, the other traps herself in a never ending loop of alternative realities, fueled by her sense of guilt, desperately trying to change an unchangeable past. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 18 2016 Finished: Mar 19 2016
Your Orisons May Be Recorded
by Laurie Penny (2016)
My review: Laurie Penny has a unique style, close to Charles Stross in some regards. The story features an angel working on a call center (corporate Heaven and Hell went through a merger and they switched to call center model to be able to handle the vast number of mortals), and his relationship with mortals. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 15 2016 Finished: Mar 15 2016
Ghosts of Home
by Sam J. Miller (2015)
My review: A courageous literary marvel, set in the United States of America during the mortgage crisis, where thousands of empty houses, were left alone after their occupants were evicted by the banks. In this stories houses have spirits, and offering must be given to them to ensure they continue to behave well and do not bring destruction to the property. Agnes is one of the many desperate homeless, fighting with her alcoholism, sleeping in her car, and washing at a Walmart. She is grateful for her no benefits minimum wages job, for one of the big mortgage banks, the same one that evicted her mother. She is required to bring offerings to the spirits of the empty houses, but to avoid any contact with them. One day, while on her round, she meets Micah, a handsome man that she mistake for an illegal squatter. (★★★★★)
Started: Feb 29 2016 Finished: Feb 29 2016
Some Gods of El Paso
by Maria Dahvana Headley (2015)
My review: While the style is exquisite, and some of the concepts quite interesting, the plot is a little too thin. After reading it I was left with the impression I just read a still rough but full of potential draft.
This is the story of a couple of magical sex workers on the run from the law for stealing and illegally trading in strong emotions in 1920s US. (★★)
Started: Feb 26 2016 Finished: Feb 26 2016
The Litany of Earth
by Ruthanna Emrys (2014)
My review: The story is a novel take on the Lovecraft mythos, dealing with the aftermath of the government's crackdown at Innsmouth, as described in Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth (that I recommend to read beforehand to enjoy to enjoy this story at its fullest).
This time the narrator is not a scared human horrified to discover the human race mixing up with another race, but it is one of the hybrid, a survivor from the government concentration camps. As in a Gregory Maguire's books, every element from the original story takes a completely different light. The camps, seen as necessary by (the quite xenophobic) Lovecraft to protect us from the horrors of inter-species interbreeding, turn into an allegory of the USA WWII internment camps in this sequel.
I enjoyed the novel, despite the ending, that could have been better. Ruthanna Emrys is a very talented author, and I am looking forward reading more of her. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 15 2016 Finished: Feb 16 2016
Variations on an Apple
by Yoon Ha Lee (2015)
My review: A strange re-interpretation of the ancient Greek myth of the Discord's Apple. The prince of Troy is is asked by three goddesses, Hera, Aphrodite and Athena, to give an apple to the fairest. Instead of giving it to Aphrodite, like in the original story, it gives it to its city, often personified in a gender fluid avatar.
I read some of this author work in the past, and I always found it very original and interesting. Variations of an Apple is undoubtedly interesting, but while I did like some of its concepts and ideas, it is a little too short on plot, and it is too often hard to follow because of its ornate language and imagery. (★)
Started: Feb 15 2016 Finished: Feb 15 2016
Fabulous Beasts
by Priya Sharma (2015)
My review: This intriguing short supernatural / horror novelette is the story of a strange woman living in luxury with her lover, but irrevocably tied to her childhood of deprivation and dark secrets in northwest England. The woman recalls the unraveling of the family upon her uncle's release from prison. The author explores the difficulties of growing up in a poor family, with an abusive uncle and a psychologically dependent mother. One of the best stories of the year.
This is one of my nominations for the Hugo Awards for best novelette: http://goo.gl/2BJp6G (★★★★★)
Started: Dec 18 2015 Finished: Dec 18 2015
He
by H.P. Lovecraft (2014)
My review: This is one of the least interesting short stories by Lovecraft, marred by his strong xenophobia. It is almost a political manifesto, with a layer of fiction on top, explaining what the author believes are the dangers of mixing with other cultures (at the time mainly Southwestern European and East Asians).
The narrator, an aspiring poet, wanders the night streets of New York. His first sunset glimpse of the city thrilled him, for it appeared majestic above its waters, its incredible peaks and pyramids rising flower-like and delicate from pools of violet mist. But daylight reveals squalor, architectural excess, and swarms of squat and swarthy foreigners (horrifying to Lovecraft). Wondering at night he encounters a like minded individual, that show him the beauty of the city that was, and the horrors of the city that will be. (★)
Started: Nov 20 2015 Finished: Nov 20 2015
At the End of Babel
by Michael Livingston (2015)
My review: A dystopian (yet many would say historically accurate) short story centered on the suppression of minorities cultural heritages through (forced) assimilation. The main character is an Acoma Pueblo American, probably the last one able to speak the ancestral language, taking a last desperate stand to reclaim her heritage through soon to be lost forever words.
I enjoyed the novel, and I recommend it. I also recommend the "story behind the story" blog post by this story author (here: http://www.michaellivingston.com/at-t... ) and a visit to the pueblo that inspired it (I saw it few years ago, and it is breathtaking. See: http://www.puebloofacoma.org/).
This is one of my nominations for the Hugo Awards for best novelette: http://goo.gl/2BJp6G (★★★★)
Started: Nov 04 2015 Finished: Nov 06 2015
Trigger (Shutter 0.5)
by Courtney Alameda (2015)
My review: I did like the main character, a strong young girl in line to be the next ruler of the Helsing's army, that also inherited a genetic anomaly from her mother that enable her to better see their enemy. I did like the settings, the foggy city I call home, i.e. San Francisco.
This said the story read as another pulpy YA story, with nothing to set it apart from a million others. (★★)
Started: Nov 01 2015 Finished: Nov 01 2015
Zapped
by Sherwood Smith (2015)
My review: While this is a story of young high-school kids with super-powers, this is first and foremost a coming of age story, that focuses on acceptance of differences, and on anger. It touches important (and disturbing) themes like transphobia, bullyism, domestic violence, and hate crimes. The story does not read as message-fiction, as a novel where the author preaches her positions and ideals. It reads as a spontaneous and refreshing coming of age story, of a young teenager growing in a non-heteronormative family, dealing and understanding the otherness of her and her peers.
This is probably one of the best novellas I have read this year, that I strongly recommend as a possible nomination for the 2016 Hugo Awards.
(★★★★★)
Started: Nov 01 2015 Finished: Nov 01 2015
Ballroom Blitz
by Veronica Schanoes
My review: A short urban fantasy story, taking place in a rock club. They main character bad behavior get him and his 11 brothers stuck inside the club, cursed to never escape from it. One day twelve sisters enter the club. Are they the last chance to break the curse? (★★)
Started: Oct 16 2015 Finished: Oct 16 2015
The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn
by Usman T. Malik
My review: This short story is so far my first pick for the 2016 Hugo awards. It is an incredibly well written, and extremely fascinating look into the culture, traditions and fairy tale tropes of another country. It is also the story of an American immigrant looking back to its family and cultural roots.
It is a novella about a disenchanted young Pakistani professor who grew up and lives in the United States, but is haunted by the magical, mystical tales his grandfather told him of a princess and a Jinn who lived in Lahore when the grandfather was a boy. (★★★★★)
Started: Oct 13 2015 Finished: Oct 15 2015
A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i
by Alaya Dawn Johnson (2014)
My review: This book is set in a near future where vampires have taken over Earth and they keep humans in concentration camps / blood farms. Do not expect a Young Adult Twilight like story. This novella won the Nebula award and it well deserve it for its originality. The narrator is a human worker in one of such facilities. We discover slowly her past, as a vampire's ally and pet and the tiny part she played in the undead ascension. We see her dream of being turned slowly evolve over time as she understand what vampires have done to human culture and history. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 14 2015 Finished: Oct 14 2015
The Thyme Fiend
by Jeffrey Ford (2015)
My review: A great mystery novella with a supernatural twist, set in a past where America was young. The main character is a young man scared by his supernatural powers. These powers help him find the skeleton of a simpleminded man that vanished some time ago. Unfortunately the dead man spirit starts appearing, and the only way for the protagonist to keep him away and to not be labeled the weirdo of town is through the ingestion of thyme. I particularly liked the depiction of the community, and the almost nostalgic portrait of a society and of a culture that does not exist anymore. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 10 2015 Finished: Oct 10 2015
The Devil in America
by Kai Ashante Wilson (2014)
My review: I did not realize this short novel was nominated for the Nebula award, but I am far from being surprised: it is an incredibly powerful and memorable story.
Set shortly after the Civil War, this is the story of a mysterious family confronts the legacy that has pursued them across centuries, out of slavery, and finally to the idyllic peace of the town of Rosetree. The shattering consequences of this confrontation echo backwards and forwards in time, even to the present day. (★★★★★)
Started: Oct 01 2015 Finished: Oct 03 2015
The Mothers of Voorhisville
by M. Rickert (2014)
My review: A man driving a hearse is getting many women in Voorhisville pregnant and then vanishes to never been seen again. Upon delivery, the baby turns out to be.. special. Despite the unusual nature of their children, the Mothers of Voorhisville, love their babies just as intensely as any mother anywhere. Unfortunately things are not simple and soon spiral out of control. A very interesting story, adroitly narrated. The only part that I found disappointing was the conclusion, but I will not say more to avoid spoiling it. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 27 2015 Finished: Oct 01 2015
Jackalope Wives
by Ursula Vernon (2014)
My review: A short yet touching story, with memorable well drawn characters.
Jackalope wives are very shy creatures, though there is nothing shy about the way they dance. You could go your whole life and see no more of them than the flash of a tail vanishing around the backside of a boulder. If you were lucky, you might catch a whole line of them outlined against the sky, on the top of a bluff, the shadow of horns rising off their brows.
But one day, a young man with a little touch of magic in the attempt of catching one severely injures one. It will be up to his grandmother to remedy his errors.
(★★★★)
Started: Sep 27 2015 Finished: Sep 27 2015
The Strange High House in the Mist
by H.P. Lovecraft (2004)
My review: Thomas Olney, a philosopher visiting the town of Kingsport, Massachusetts with his family, is intrigued by a strange house on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It is unaccountably high and old and the locals have a generations-long dread of the place which no one is known to have visited. With great difficulty, Olney climbs the crag, approaches the house, and meets the mysterious man who lives there. The only door opens directly onto a sheer cliff, giving access only to mist and "the abyss". The transmittal of archaic lore and a life-altering encounter with the supernatural ensue, as Olney is not the only visitor that day. He returns to Kingsport the next day, but seems to have left his spirit behind in the strange, remote dwelling. (★)
Started: Sep 13 2015 Finished: Sep 13 2015
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine, #1)
by Ransom Riggs (2011)
My review: As I started reading this book I was getting concerned this was an American low-quality knock-off of Harry Potter. Soon though I changed my mind. This is quite an original story, an quite entertaining at the same time.
This novel mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow, impossible though it seems, they may still be alive. 

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is the beginning of what seems to be a new remarkable book series. (★★★★)
Started: Sep 07 2015 Finished: Sep 13 2015
The Dogs of Athens
by Kendare Blake (2015)
My review: This is the second short story set in the world of the Goddess War series I read without having read the main stories. I would recommend against it: I have the clear impression that I would enjoyed this novella more if I had read the trilogy first. This said the story is quite entertaining, even if the ending seems to require familiarity with the saga to be properly understood. (★★)
Started: Sep 09 2015 Finished: Sep 09 2015
The Cats Of Ulthar: Short Story
by H.P. Lovecraft (2014)
My review: In the town of Ulthar, everyone knows that you cannot kill a cat. But why such a strange edict in such a seemingly normal town? The truth behind the superstition is a horrifying tale almost too strange to be believed. (★★)
Started: Aug 23 2015 Finished: Aug 23 2015
The Statement of Randolph Carter
by H.P. Lovecraft (2014)
My review: This is the first story featuring Randolph Carter, a student of the occult loosely representing Lovecraft himself. The story opens with Carter giving a formal statement to the police about the disappearance of his friend Harley Warren. He has told law enforcement officials everything he can remember about the night Warren went missing. Warren was a student of the weird, with a vast collection of rare books on forbidden subjects, many in Arabic. Carter took a subordinate's part in Warren's studies, the exact nature of which he's now mercifully forgotten. In the night of the disappearance, the two visited an ancient cemetery in a deep, damp, overgrown hollow. Warren finds a half-obliterated sepulchre, which he and Carter clear of drifted earth and invasive vegetation. Then Warren enters the underground tunnel, leaving Carter behind... (★★)
Started: Aug 23 2015 Finished: Aug 23 2015
The Other Gods
by H.P. Lovecraft (2014)
My review: A high priest and prophet greatly learned in the lore of the gods of earth attempts to scale the mountain of Hatheg-Kla in order to look upon their faces, accompanied by his young disciple. But the gods of the earth are not there alone. (★★)
Started: Aug 23 2015 Finished: Aug 23 2015
The Unnamable
by H.P. Lovecraft (1925)
My review: Carter, a genre fiction writer, meets with his close friend, Joel Manton, in a cemetery near an old, dilapidated house on Meadow Hill in the town of Arkham, Massachusetts. As the two sit upon a weathered tomb, Carter tells Manton the tale of an indescribable entity that allegedly haunts the house and surrounding area. He contends that because such an entity cannot be perceived by the five senses, it becomes impossible to quantify and accurately describe, thus earning itself the term 'unnamable'. Manton scoffs that Carters's use of such a word is a puerile device, just what you'd expect from a hack writer. No doubt he says this with love, but Carter's inspired by their eerie setting to defend his dark romanticism from Manton's rationalistic world view.
What sets this short story apart from the other, is this defense of Lovecraft's romantic literary style and credo, against the supposedly rational naturalist position of his critics. I said supposedly because, according to Lovecraft at least, his critics are the same that are religious and credulous of certain bits of folklore. The author (and Carter) has seen enough to believe nothing is beyond nature, though it may be beyond present understanding. Carter appears to be a religious skeptic, and it's he who tries to buttress his ideas with research and investigation instead of listening to well-established superstitions.
Another interesting theme of this short story is the author take of the American Puritan age, described as "dark", populated by "crushed brains" that spawn such horrors as the 1692 witch panic. "There was no beauty, no freedom", only "the poisonous sermons of the cramped divines". The period was, overall, "a rusted iron straitjacket". (★★★★)
Started: Aug 22 2015 Finished: Aug 22 2015
Azathoth
by H.P. Lovecraft (2014)
My review: The modern world has been stripped of imagination and belief in magic when a man gazing from his window upon the stars comes to observe secret vistas unsuspected by normal humanity. One night the gulf between his world and the stars is bridged, and his mind ascends from his body out into the boundless cosmos. (★)
Started: Aug 08 2015 Finished: Aug 08 2015
Nyarlathotep
by H.P. Lovecraft
My review: This short story introduces one of Lovecraft's recurring "characters": Nyarlathotep. He is here described as a tall, swarthy man who resembles an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. In this story he wanders the earth, seemingly gathering legions of followers, the narrator of the story among them, through his demonstrations of strange and seemingly magical instruments. These followers lose awareness of the world around them, and through the narrator's increasingly unreliable accounts the reader gets an impression of the world's collapse.
The story is extremely short, to the point to being hard to enjoy. It feels like having half of a small bite of a cake: you expect something delicious, but you did not get enough even for a taste. (★)
Started: Aug 08 2015 Finished: Aug 08 2015
Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)
by Jim Butcher (2000)
My review: The Dresden File is a quite successful young adult urban fantasy series. The first half of it has a relatively thin plot with a lot of sexual references to keep young readers interested. It gets better towards the end, but while enjoyable, it does not have something to set it apart from the millions of ya pulp novels. (★★★)
Started: Jul 19 2015 Finished: Jul 23 2015
Ginga
by Daniel José Older
My review: This is a short story set in the world of Daniel Jose' Older's immensely popular Bone Street Rumba series. This is the second story set in this world I read, and while the first was just OK, this is quite good. It is entertaining and it touches interesting themes like xenophobia.
This is the story of Kia, developing a crush for obscenely muscular new capoeira teacher, while her previous crush starts going off with a new girl in their favorite park. Kia figures she has enough going on without some creepy ghost causing car crashes and hit-and-runs in her neighborhood. Carlos Delacruz, the half-dead half-resurrected soulcatcher for the New York Council of the Dead, would love to keep her out of it, but things don't usually go the way he intends. (★★★★)
Started: May 26 2015 Finished: May 26 2015
The Two Weddings of Bronwyn Hyatt
by Alex Bledsoe
My review: This short story is not poorly written, and it is probably good for lovers of the romantic / young adult /supernatural genre. Unfortunately, I am not fond of the genre, and I did not enjoy it as much as somebody else could. The fact that the story is a sequel of a book series that I have not read did not help either.
This is the story Bronwyn Hyatt, one of the last remaining Tufa pure bloods. She is preparing for her wedding day, when she finds the perfect dress from a most unexpected source. But she should remember this: never accept a gift without knowing the consequences. (★★)
Started: May 14 2015 Finished: May 14 2015
Scarecrow
by Alyssa Wong (2015)
My review: This is a remarkable horror short story by Alyssa Wong, dealing with complex issues like bullism and its tragic toll, self-hate, death, homophobia, and coming-out at a young age. It is tale of tragic love and loss. (★★★★★)
Started: May 03 2015 Finished: May 03 2015
Dog
by Bruce McAllister (2015)
My review: Dog is the chilling horror story of a young progressive American couple that visit Mexico to better understand its culture, but end up having a close encounters with nightmarish creature from the country ancient history: a breed of dogs very unlike any domesticated variety north of the border. (★★★)
Started: May 01 2015 Finished: May 01 2015
Kia and Gio
by Daniel José Older (2015)
My review: Kia is a week shy of her seventeenth birthday, which is about how old her cousin Gio was six years ago when he just up and went away. Kia is a little bit in love with Giovanni but she has not thought about him this much since the day he disappeared. It is not until a run-of-the-mill work shift at Baba Eddie's botanica goes awry that she begins to understand why he’s on her mind. (★★★)
Started: Apr 24 2015 Finished: Apr 24 2015
A Long Spoon (Johannes Cabal, #4.5)
by Jonathan L. Howard (2014)
My review: I have not read any of the Johannes Cabal books before, but this can be read as a stand-alone story, and I really enjoyed reading it. I really loved the sarcastic, witty storytelling. I can't wait to read all the books of the series now.
This is the story of Johannes Cabal, an infamous necromancer, that is suddenly experiencing various attempts to his life. he decides to investigate the matter, but the trail leads to one of the less traveled parts of Hell itself, and there Cabal will need a guide. he summons as a guide the devil Zarenyia and he delve deep into Hell, even into Satan's greatest mistake, to confront challenges quite outside the ken of any mortal. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 16 2015 Finished: Feb 16 2015
Seventh Day of the Seventh Moon
by Ken Liu (2014)
My review: This is the story of Jing and Yuan, a pair of young women in love for the first time in their lives, who are about to be parted by circumstances beyond their control: one of them is to leave China to go study in the States.
But it is Qixi, the ancient Festival of the Cowherd and Weaver Girl, and on that day the legendary lovers give the young women some help and advice. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 12 2015 Finished: Jan 12 2015
Burnt Sugar (Firebug, #0.5)
by Lish McBride (2014)
My review: As it is often the case with short stories that are prequel to an entire book saga, I am left with the strong impression that I would enjoyed this more if I had read the Firebug book series first.
This is the story of three magical mafia workers: Ava, Lock, and Ezra. They are out on an assignment. Faced with a gingerbread house, they're pretty sure that what's inside isn't nearly as sweet as the outside. It never is. (★★★)
Started: Jan 04 2015 Finished: Jan 04 2015
Skin in the Game
by Sabrina Vourvoulias (2014)
My review: An interesting urban fantasy with a Latin flavor. Three kinds of people live in Zombie City-La Boca Del Diablo: the zombies, los vivos, and the ghosts. Officer Jimena Villagrán, not truly at home with any of these groups, patrols the barrio for stalking monsters. Magic con men and discarded needles make this beat hazardous enough, but the latest rash of murders threatens to up the ante by outing the horrors of Jimena's personal history. (★★★)
Started: Jan 03 2015 Finished: Jan 04 2015
A Cup of Salt Tears
by Isabel Yap
My review: This is the story of Makino, raised by her mother to avoid kappas (supernatural monsters of the Japanese folklore) and to follow the proper rites to keep them away. But when she grows up and her husband Tetsuya falls deathly ill, a kappa that claims to know her comes calling. (★★★)
Started: Dec 07 2014 Finished: Dec 09 2014
When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami
by Kendare Blake (2014)
My review: Even if this short story is part of a series (the Goddess Wars series by Kendare Blake), it can be read and enjoyed on its own.
This is the story of immortal teen goddess Athena and of a young boy that mistakes her for a vampire and who refuses to leave her side until she turns him. Enjoyable accessible read. (★★★)
Started: Dec 05 2014 Finished: Dec 05 2014
A Kiss With Teeth
by Max Gladstone (2014)
Publisher review: Vlad has grown distant from his wife. His son has trouble at school. And he has to keep his sharp teeth hidden. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
My rating: ★★
Started: Dec 03 2014 Finished: Dec 03 2014
A Rumor of Angels
by Dale Bailey (2013)
My review: "A Rumor of Angels", by Dale Bailey, is a historical fiction novelette with a light touch of fantasy that takes place during the period of the dust bowl in the American Midwest. A teenage boy walks away from his father's wasted farm to follow the other travelers heading west where there is a rumor of angels. The storytelling and the style are remarkable, but I was extremely disappointed by the strange ending. (★★)
Started: Oct 05 2014 Finished: Oct 05 2014
Il visconte dimezzato
by Italo Calvino (2011)
My review: Una fiaba piena di allegorie sulla societa' dell'Italia del secondo dopoguerra. Questa e' la storia del visconte Medardo di Terralba che, colpito al petto da una cannonata turca, torna a casa diviso in due meta' (una cattiva, malvagia, prepotente, ma dotata di inaspettate doti di umorismo e realismo, l'altra gentile, altruista, buona, o meglio "buonista"). Come disse Calvino Tutti ci sentiamo in qualche modo incompleti, tutti realizziamo una parte di noi stessi e non l'altra.
Ho letto questo libro due volte. La prima lo finii il 24 Giugno 1999. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 23 2014 Finished: Aug 24 2014
Burning Girls
by Veronica Schanoes (2013)
My review: This is a rare example of sublime literature, an adroitly crafted, magnificently written novella spanning between the historical fiction and dark fantasy genres. The mix of the two genres works incredibly well: fantastic demons are metaphors of the real historical horrors, and supernatural elements reflects a system of beliefs and the superstitions of a community.
This is the story of Deborah, a Jewish girl growing in Poland at a time when anti-Semitic discrimination was the law, and the whole community lived in fear of pogroms. Her family is also faced with the prospect of poverty, since their main trade and source of income (sewing) suddenly has to compete with the products coming out from textile factories. Deborah inherited the holy powers from her grandmother, the zegorin of the village, that starts to train her to become one. Unfortunately her family is soon to be faced by a new wave of pogroms and supernatural events.
For more information about this and other 2013 nebula finalist, please refer to my blog post here: http://books.zennaro.net/category/hug... (★★★★★)
Started: Jun 14 2014 Finished: Jun 15 2014
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)
by Cassandra Clare (2009)
My review: The mortal instrument is a popular fantasy book series by American author Judith Rumelt (better known by her pen name Cassandra Clare). This is the book that started it all. The main character, Clary Fray, a 15 years old New York City girl, witness a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Things gets strange when the body disappears into thin air and the murderers are invisible to everyone but Clary. The murderers explain themselves as Shadowhunters: a secret tribe of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons.
The story is entertaining, and it mixes some of the themes of Harry Potter with the teen supernatural romance that made books like Twilight, and the "True Blood" Sookie Stackhouse series popular. For an in-depth guide to this book series please refer to: http://goo.gl/036Wwg (★★★★)
Started: Aug 18 2013 Finished: Aug 31 2013
Fox 8: A Story
by George Saunders (2013)
My review: Fox 8 has always been known as the daydreamer in his pack, the one his fellow foxes regarded with a knowing snort and a roll of the eyes. That is, until Fox 8 develops a unique skill: he teaches himself to speak Yuman by hiding in the bushes outside a house and listening to children’s bedtime stories. The power of language fuels his abundant curiosity about people—even after danjer arrives in the form of a new shopping mall that cuts off his food supply, sending Fox 8 on a harrowing quest to help save his pack. Told with his distinctive blend of humor and pathos, Fox 8 showcases the extraordinary imaginative talents of George Saunders, whom the New York Times called the writer for our time. (Goodreads review) (★★★★)
Started: Jul 06 2013 Finished: Jul 06 2013
Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse, #4)
by Charlaine Harris
My review: I really like the TV series inspired by this book series, and I keep coming back to read "just one more" of them. Every time I find myself regretting it. The books are indeed entertaining, there is no denying it, but their content often disturbs me. Another goodreads member completely captured my opinion of this book: Throughout, the text is offensive to women, people with some understanding of American history, and pretty much anyone else [...].
I found quite disturbing the attitude of the main character (Sookie). She is quick to judge others (e.g. her coworker for having gone through multiple husband or gays that are "too gay" or wear "too much cologne"), while hypocritically behaving in a way that does not meet these standards (e.g. she is in love with three men at once, and she dances sensually with a female friend). (★)
Started: Dec 25 2012 Finished: Dec 27 2012
Rosemary's Baby
by Ira Levin (2011)
My review: Few years ago I watched Roman Polański's movie adaptation of this book, and I remember enjoying it despite the fact that the movie is quite old. I was a little hesitant to read the book, because I knew already the plot, and I was afraid I was not going to enjoy it as much. Well I was wrong: I loved the book. I had actually an hard time put it down. Ira Levin was an adroit writer, and Rosemary's Baby is one of the most enjoyable "supernatural" fiction books I have ever read. I strongly recommend it even if you are not into horror and supernatural fiction. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 13 2012 Finished: Nov 16 2012
Necromancer (Necromancer, #0.5)
by Lish McBride (2011)
My review: With the advent of eBooks, some authors started releasing free short eBook prequels to their books to try to lure readers into buying their product. This is a good example of this recently established trend. I enjoyed reading this story, where the various character are described with great sensitivity. I am considering to read the rest of the series. (★★★★)
Started: Nov 03 2012 Finished: Nov 03 2012
Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse, #3)
by Charlaine Harris (2006)
My review: Another goodreads member completelly captured my opinion of this book: Throughout, the text is offensive to women, people with some understanding of American history, and pretty much anyone else [...].
The plot may be fun and entertaining, but I was disturbed over and over by the content of the book. I was disturbed by the fact that Sookie still consider Bill as a viable partner after he left her without a word for an ex, and after he physically assaulted and raped her. I was disturbed by the fact that she could kiss and lust for three men in the space of a day, but still be critical of a gay kiss (Sookie claims she is just against public displays of affection, but I am left wondering, would she have said anything if the couple was not gay?), or disparaging of a gay character because "he wears a way too much cologne". Last but not least, I found quite disturbing to read racist statements like the following: "Somehow, it had never crossed my mind—I guess since I'm an American—that the vampires who had snatched Bill might be resorting to evil means to get him to talk". (★)
Started: Sep 20 2012 Finished: Sep 30 2012
Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse, #2)
by Charlaine Harris (2004)
My review: Reading Sookie Stackhouse novels is always a pleasure. Charlaine Harris definitely knows how to entertain and capture the attention of the reader. There is no real substance in the book, and some parts feels quite hypocritical. For example I have the distinct impression that the author enjoy having crazy orgies and sexual promiscuity in her plot, because this fact make her feel "modern, and cool", but at the same time she feel the need to be very judgmental about it. This said, despite all the shortcoming, I really really enjoyed the book and I can't wait to read the next one. It's like eating chocolate: you know it may be not so good for you, but you can't stop eating it. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2012 Finished: Jan 16 2012
Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1)
by Anne Rice (1991)
My review: I have heard so much about this book that I finally decided to read it. Some of the themes of the book have been re-used and re-invented by other authors and they do not feel anymore as original as they probably were, and because of it I was a little disappointed. The book is the story of Louis and his long (pretty unsuccessful) struggle to come to term with his Vampire nature. It's also the disturbingly fascinating story of Claudia, a young kid turned into a vampire, slowly growing into a woman forever trapped inside a body cursed to never age. (★★★)
Started: Dec 12 2011 Finished: Dec 24 2011
Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)
by Charlaine Harris (2001)
My review: I really like the HBO True Blood TV series, and I decided to read the book that inspired it. The book was as entertaining as the show, and there are enough differences here and there to surprise you even if you have seen it already on TV. The only troubling part of the book is the killing of three "evil" vampire, burned alive by a mob angry humans. The author seems to find it acceptable, she seems to suggest that is OK for common citizens to bypass the police and justice system and kill whose that are "evil" and their behavior "unacceptable" in their eyes. She even said that those three vampires "asked for it" because of the way they behaved. (★★)
Started: Oct 29 2011 Finished: Nov 06 2011
The Fall (The Strain Trilogy, #2)
by Guillermo del Toro (2011)
My review: The second volume of the strain trilogy is a page turner as the first one: it is impossible to put down once you start it. One of the problem I had with The Strain was that it felt more like a screenplay than a book. The plot was thin and too little focus was given to the main characters: a lot of space was given to side scenes to build the atmosphere, really little to character development. The Fall is a little better on this respect, there is more space for the plot to thicken and develop. There is no real character development, but this is a fast paced action book, and it delivers on that regard. (★★★)
Started: Sep 22 2011 Finished: Oct 14 2011
The Strain (The Strain Trilogy, #1)
by Guillermo del Toro (2010)
My review: I had very little expectations when I started this book. Even if Del Toro is a great movie director, I had no idea how good a writer he could be: books are a completely different medium. Moreover books with two authors tend to be worse (on average). Well, it may not have a groundbreaking plot, but it's really a page turner, it is impossible to put down once you start it. I burn through the first 200 pages in 2 working days. Unfortunately, the book at the end feel like a screenplay more than a book. Many little scene are stitched together creating a relatively thin plot. Too little focus is given to the main characters: a lot of space is given to side scenes to build the atmosphere, really little to character development. (★★★)
Started: Aug 02 2011 Finished: Aug 10 2011
Dreamcatcher
by Stephen King (2002)
My review: I should have guessed it was not going to be a masterpiece when I bought this book from the "extreme sales" section of a local bookstore. It is by far the worst King's book I have read. On top of being full of gratuitous profanities, homophobic statements and intelligent design arguments, the plot is weak and stale. All the psychological introspection King is famous for does not appear in this book. (★)
Started: Dec 06 2005 Finished: Feb 02 2006
Dark Rivers of the Heart
by Dean Koontz (2000)
My review: I was at the airport minutes away from a long international flight, when I realized I forgot the book I was reading at home. I run to the closest book store to get something for my trip. The selection was very limited, and I ended up getting Dark Rivers of the Heart, because years ago I had read a book from he same author and I liked it. Well... I did not like this one at all. (★)
Started: Aug 02 2004 Finished: Oct 18 2004
Insomnia
by Stephen King
My review: As a young teenager I was quite fond of Stephen King's books. I consider some of them remarkable literary achievements for the ability of digging into the hidden folds of the human psyche, and the adroit investigation of psychosis and fear. I picked up this book on my way to the airport, expecting something as good as the books I read many years before. I was quite disappointed instead by the flat story-line and the lack of any psychological investigation of the various characters. (★★)
Started: Aug 29 2002 Finished: Sep 30 2002
Le metamorfosi o l'asino d'oro
by Apuleius (1977)
My review: Lucio, protagonista e narratore, in Tessaglia per affari, abita a casa di Milone e di sua moglie Panfile, ritenuta una maga. Procuratosi un unguento magico che sapeva aver trasformato Panfile in uccello, Lucio si trasforma però in asino. Dei ladri saccheggiano la casa di Milone e caricano l'asino Lucio del bottino. Giunto poi alla caverna dei briganti, Lucio ascolta la favola di Amore e Psiche, narrata da una vecchia a una fanciulla rapita. Sconfitti i briganti dal fidanzato della ragazza, Lucio passa di padrone in padrone, subendo ogni tipo di tormento, Finché non si addormenta sulla spiaggia di Cencree. In sogno gli appare la dea Iside che gli indica la strada per riprendere la forma umana. Lucio esegue le indicazioni della dea e si fa iniziare al suo culto. ()
Started: Jan 01 1993 Finished: Jan 01 1993
Le avventure di Gordon Pym
by Edgar Allan Poe (1993)
Publisher review: Pubblicato inizialmente a puntate, nel 1937, sul Southern Literary Messenger e l'anno seguente in volume, Le Avventure di Gordon Pym è l'unico romanzo scritto da Poe, l'unico resoconto narrativo di una certa estensione: esso contraddice infatti, in un certo senso, il proposito dello scrittore statunitense di raggiungere la cosiddetta unità d'effetto attraverso la massima concentrazione della materia. Tuttavia qualcosa lo spingeva a tentare articolazioni di più ampia misura creativa, oltre alla tentazione di mostrare come, in un'epoca dominata dal romanzo, anch'egli potesse scriverne. Con Le Avventure di Gordon Pym Poe volle fondere, in un racconto di più ampio respiro, i dati concreti e realistici dell'avventuroso viaggio del giovane Pym con significati simbolici e sfuggenti, innestando su una rocambolesca trama giochi di sperimentazione linguistica e alchimie stilistiche.
My rating:
Il mondo alla fine del mondo
by Luis Sepúlveda (1994)
Publisher review: Il 16 giugno del 1988 in un'agenzia giornalistica di Amburgo, legata a Greenpeace, arriva un inquietante fax dal Cile. Secondo il messaggio, la nave giapponese, Nishin Maru, ha perso diciotto marinai, insieme a un numero imprecisato di feriti, e ha subito gravi danni. Il giornalista che riceve il fax, esule dal Cile, suo paese d'origine, per motivi politici, decide di tornare a casa e dedicarsi al caso della Nishin Maru. Durante le indagini giunge alla conclusione che la baleniera, ufficialmente demolita a Timor, stava in realtà praticando illegalmente la caccia ai cetacei nei mari australi.
My rating: