Marco's readings

Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. This page lists all the books that I have finished reading in 2010.
This page is built leveraging the goodreads.com API.

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 Night Watch
by Sarah Waters
My review: The Night Watch is the story of four commoners in World War II London, coping with personal and historical tragedies during air raids, black-outs and rationing. It is a story of loss, illicit affairs, desperation, hope, and love. Historical novels and movies have the tendency to be epic, to turn the characters into heroes, events into epics. As a result it is hard to identify with the characters, to understand what was like to live those events. The Night Watch does not fall in that trap. Its WWII London and its characters are just commoners, with common weaknesses, hopes, fears and tragedies. As a result it is impossible to not identify with them. It is impossible to not experience all the horrors, the destruction, the fears they experience, or not to share their hopes or their joy for historically insignificant but extremely real events. The result is an extremely powerful novel, able to shake the reader to the core. (★★★★★)
Started: Oct 10 2010 Finished: Dec 04 2010
The Legacy (Forgotten Realms: Legacy of the Drow, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #7)
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
Significant Others (Tales of the City Series, Vol. 5)
by Armistead Maupin (1994)
My review: Every volume of Tales of the City is a portrait of San Francisco in a particular moment in time. Each volume captures the dreams, the fears, the atmosphere of the city, and recreates the struggles and the achievements on the time. The actors are, as always, the loved inhabitants of Barbary lane. The settings are San Francisco in the 80s, AIDS, and the new and old struggles of family life (love, career, infidelity, and compromise). Enjoyable read, bitter sweet and wise. (★★★★)
Started: Aug 01 2010 Finished: Aug 15 2010
The Halfling's Gem (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #3; Legend of Drizzt, #6)
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
Pebble in the Sky (Galactic Empire, #3)
by Isaac Asimov
My review: This book made me understand why Isaac Asimov is considered one of the fathers of science fiction. The book is impossible to put down: I found myself staying up all night to see how it ends. On top of being so entertaining, the book also explores interesting themes like xenophobia, and how Religion ("customs" and "traditions" in the book) can potentially be used to enslave people. I recently read Asimov's Robot's series (that was fun, but not that special), and this is by far superior. (★★★★★)
Started: Jun 30 2010 Finished: Jul 02 2010
The Stolen Throne (Dragon Age, #1)
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 Master
by Colm Tóibín (2005)
My review: Like Michael Cunningham in The Hours, Colm Toibin captures the extraordinary mind and heart of a great writer. Beautiful and profoundly moving, The Master tells the story of a man born into one of America's first intellectual families who leaves his country in the late nineteenth century to live in Paris, Rome, Venice, and London among privileged artists and writers. In stunningly resonant prose, Toibin captures the loneliness and the hope of a master of psychological subtlety whose forays into intimacy inevitably failed those he tried to love. (★★★★)
Started: Apr 03 2010 Finished: May 09 2010
The Crystal Shard (Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, #1; Legend of Drizzt, #4)
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
The Charioteer
by Mary Renault (2003)
My review: This is the story of Laurie, an injured world war II soldier, recovering from his injuries in a hospital. While there he meets a Quaker and conscience objector, Andrew, whom he slowly falls in love with. The love is strictly platonic, both men haven't even come to terms with their homosexuality, or even realized that they are gay. Then Laurie meets his school senpai, his never confessed first love. It is at this point that the story become quite interesting (after a very slow start) in the discovery of the humanity and fragility of each character. (★★★★)
Started: Feb 19 2010 Finished: Mar 21 2010
The Tales of Beedle the Bard
by J.K. Rowling (2008)
My review: A collection of fairy tales taking place in the Harry Potter universe. The book very short (done-reading-in-30-minutes short), but it is relatively entertaining. The highlight of the book are the Dumbledore's commentaries: the author get back at the fundamentalists that accused her books of introducing kids to witchcraft. Profits from the book sales goes to a non-profit organization aimed at helping child in need. (★★★)
Started: Feb 18 2010 Finished: Feb 18 2010
Lord of the Clans (WarCraft, #2)
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
A Sight for Sore Eyes
by Ruth Rendell (2000)
My review: I started reading the book and I was immediately captured by the deep psychological analysis of the main character, Teddy, a psychopath. The author led the reader in Teddy's mind. Suddenly it is easy to understand his way of thinking, and even relate and be sympathetic towards him. This is the kind of book that is impossible to put down once started, the kind of book you end up reading until an early hour in the morning to realize you need to be at work few hours later. (Spoiler alert, stop reading now if you want to read this book). What bothered me is that the author clearly felt the need to punish her character at the end. The book starts as a completely objective analysis of Teddy, but the ending is a subjective moral judgement of his character. While we all agree with the author, the conclusion goes against the premises of her work and taints her achievement. (★★★★)
Finished: Feb 02 2010
Sojourn (Forgotten Realms: Dark Elf Trilogy, #3; Legend of Drizzt, #3)
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
Babycakes (Tales of the City, #4)
by Armistead Maupin
My review: We are back to 28 Barbary Lane, San Francisco, following the adventure of Mary Ann, Brian, Mouse and Mona. It's the forth book, and all the character are now so familiar, that they do feel like family. This is, so far, the best written book of the series, Maupin really improved his writing skills over the year (and he was great to start with). The story flows very smoothly now and it's adroitly crafted so that everything falls in place without forcing events. As a result the story feel credible and real. The story takes place during the AIDS years. Mouse is mourning the loss of Jon, Mona is looking for a new life in Seattle, Brian wants a baby to give a meaning to his life, and Mary Ann tries hard to balance married life with her career. A quite amazing snapshot of a San Francisco of the end of the last millennium, witty and touching at the same time. (★★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2010 Finished: Jan 16 2010