Marco's readings

Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. This page lists all the books that I have finished reading in 2009.
This page is built leveraging the goodreads.com API.

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
The Robots of Dawn (Robot #3)
by Isaac Asimov (1994)
My review: In the third volume of Asimov's "Robot" series all the characters of the previous books (Elijah, Daneel, Gladia) are back. The book was written more than 20 years after the first two, and it shows. It is quite interesting to witness the cultural changes occurred in those 2 decades while reading the books. While I was reading the first two volumes, I was quite surprised by the prevalent gender inequality in the "future" societies described in the books. It was rather funny to see the shortcoming of the Western world of the 50s in a "future society". In the third book, things are changed quite a lot. While the previous books were almost puritan, here sexuality is a central element. But while the author describe a society in which sex is quite free, he continues to make the point that sex without love is worthless. It come out a little bit hypocritical: on one side he speaks about free sex to lure readers, on the other he judges it. Anyway, there has been huge social progress in this 20 years, and the progress is astonishing and clear when you read these books. (★★★★)
Started: Oct 06 2009 Finished: Nov 05 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
The Naked Sun (Robot, #2)
by Isaac Asimov (1991)
My review: I read many Asimov's books (translated in Italian) when I was young, and I used to love them. I recently started to read them again, in English, and he was clearly a master of mass market (sci-fi) novels. His books are hard to put down. Many of his ideas now are clique, but they weren't at the time. The only disturbing part is to see some sexist comment in the book. Maybe Asimov was not sexist, maybe it was "normal" to treat female differently at the time, but I still find it quite disturbing. (★★★)
Started: Sep 01 2009 Finished: Sep 26 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
When You Are Engulfed in Flames
by David Sedaris (2008)
My review: Sedaris has a very peculiar sense of humor, and sometimes his funny stories turn out to be not as silly as he pretend they are. Great book, it made me laugh out loud more than once. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 01 2009 Finished: Aug 05 2009
The Caves of Steel (Robot, #1)
by Isaac Asimov (1991)
My review: I read many Asimov's books when I was a kid, and it has been quite interesting to read them again, in their original language. He was an adroit writer, able to capture the reader. I enjoyed this book, I was very surprised by the author continuous mentions to the bible (given his views on religion). (★★★)
Started: Jul 25 2009 Finished: Jul 31 2009
A Demon in My View
by Ruth Rendell (2000)
My review: I am usually not fond of thrillers and mysteries, but this is definitely a great exception. I received this book as a present from a friend that swear Ruth Rwndell is the best author on earth. I started reading the book and I was immediately captured by the deep psychological analysis of the characters. The reader can enter in the mind of the main character, a serial killer, understand his way of thinking, even relate and be sympathetic towards him. This is the kind of book that is impossible to put down once started, the kind of book you end up reading until an early hour in the morning to realize you need to be at work few hours later. I was almost at the end of the book, when I discovered that there was a typographic problem with it: the last 2 chapters were missing (and the first 2 were repeated instead). The book vendor was very kind and offered to substitute it but it turned out the book is out of print. I got a refund, but I was craving to read the end. I tried everywhere but I could not find the book. Finally I managed to find it at the public library and I just got to read the end. Finally! The conclusion is almost as good as the rest of the book, even if it fells a little rushed and sudden. (★★★★)
Started: Jun 27 2009 Finished: Jul 19 2009
Specimen Days
by Michael Cunningham
My review: A second masterpiece (after The Hours) by Michael Cunningham. In The hours the lives of three women are intertwined together. In Specimen days we follow three characters in three historical periods, in three apparently unrelated separate novels. The historical background of each story is a different New York: the horrors of the industrial revolution, the fears of the Post September 2001, and a post apocalyptic feature. In each story the same characters come back over and over again, struggling over and over to understand the truth, to see what is hidden behind the reality, and to discover it in awe. (★★★★)
Started: May 05 2009 Finished: Jun 25 2009
Mothers and Sons
by Colm Tóibín (2007)
My review: A collection of short stories, each of them is an in-depth investigations of the human interactions between mothers and sons. The focus is on their feelings, fears, and desires. As in Blackwater Lightship, the author demonstrates an astounding sensibility and understanding of human nature. (★★★★)
Started: Jun 19 2009 Finished: Jun 24 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
Gentlemen and Players
by Joanne Harris (2006)
My review: Joanne Harris managed to awe me again, with this clever and amazing novel. I really enjoyed this book, the characterization and detailed analysis of the main character. The only thing I did not really find great was the final "shocking revelation", that, even if very surprising and unexpected, it is not really convincing. Despite that, it is another masterpiece of Joanne Harris, that I strongly recommend. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 16 2009 Finished: Apr 27 2009
Chie-chan e io
by Banana Yoshimoto (2008)
My review: Ho sempe amato i libri di Banana Yoshimoto, e anche quest'ultimo e' stata una piacevole lettura, ma devo dire che i piu' recenti volumi sfigurano a confronto ai suoi libri della giovinezza. Questa e' la storia di Kaori e Chie-chan, e del loro particolarissimo rapporto. (★★)
Started: Jan 26 2009 Finished: Feb 15 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
Further Tales of the City (Tales of the City, #3)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: The calamity-prone residents of 28 Barbary Lane are at it again in this deliciously dark novel of romance and betrayal. While Anna Madrigal imprisons an anchorwoman in her basement, Michael Tolliver looks for love at the National Gay Rodeo, DeDe Halcyon Day and Mary Ann Singleton track a charismatic psychopath across Alaska, and society columnist Prue Giroux loses her heart to a derelict living in San Francisco park. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2009 Finished: Jan 16 2009