Thursday, January 17, 2008

Book Reviews - Big Update

Ahhh....books, I love books! I have to say that at the end of 2007 having lost my commute (my prime reading time) and being all caught up in the holidays and getting ready for our vacation my reading kind of fell to the wayside, which was sad! However, in 2008 I've already got some books under my belt. Here are the reviews.

First Man in Rome, Colleen McCullough (3 Stars)

I picked up this book because having found many books written about Florence during the Renaissance I was excited to have found a book so favorably reviewed about Rome, especially Rome during Roman times.

The First Man in Rome, covers many subject matters & characters, but if I had to paraphrase it I would say it was about Rome during the time that "the new man" entered the scene. Gaius Marius, a new man, has money, power and desire to hold a consulship in Rome, however he is missing the family name and history that one needs in order to climb the Roman Senate ladder. Gaius Julias Ceasar as well as Lucius Cornelius ("Sulla") on the other hand have the all important name but no money. Over the course of the book the reader follows all of these characters as they work towards that top spot, whether for themselves or their family. McCullough thoroughly covers military campaigns in both Africa and Gaul as well as covers the workings of the Senate.

While I definitely felt I learned a lot from this book, I would say that it was not an enjoyable read. More so a book that I plodded through to get to the end. (It felt as long as it was in other words...) There wasn't enough everyday life in the book to lighten the load of the politics and military campaigns which dominated the storyline. I would agree that it's not a book for everyone, I'm glad I read it but I won't be picking up the other books in the series to see what happens...

The Magician's Guild, Trudi Canavan (4 Stars)

I picked this book up because I was missing on Harry Potter, there I said it! I had never really ventured into the world of Science Fiction prior to HP. My sister's boyfriend recommended this series to me.

In the first book in the trilogy of the Magician's Guild, the reader meets Sonea, a girl from the dwells (poor neighborhood) who one day realizes she has magical powers that she never knew about. The Guild is concerned because a magician who's powers are self-discovered as opposed to cultivated tend to be especially strong Magicians. Sonea, afraid of the Guild, makes a "contract" with the Thieves asking them to hide her. The chase begins, and continues for half of the book. Faced with the decision to join the Guild or try to survive on her own, Sonea struggles with whether or not the Magician's of the Guild are trustworthy.

The book was not a difficult book to read, easily could be read by any child who read HP. I will say that in the beginning I wasn't overly impressed but as the story developed I was sucked in more and more. I will definitely be picking up the next two books in the trilogy and hope they will be just as fun. This in no way compares to the magic of HP but I'm glad I'm continuing to explore the Science Fiction world of literature because I think it holds a lot of potential books for me to enjoy!

The Road, Cormac McCarthy (5 Stars)

Many of you already know the story, a man and his son are heading south, in a post apocalyptic United States. The Road is their story of survival, human nature, and love.

I had heard mixed reviews about this book so I tried to go in without any expectations and I think that helped me appreciate it to the fullest. It is a book that will stay with you for days and that will have you question, "What would I do in this situation?" more than once. As many a reviewer has said before me, it is "hauntingly beautiful" and I truly think that is the best way to describe it.

It is a worthwhile read.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (5 Stars)

I've decided that 2008 is "the year of the classics." So to start it off, I picked up this book after about 12 years and I have to say I loved it just as much the second time around. Fitzgerald's descriptive ability is effortless and filled with beautiful imagery that stays with you forever. Everything just jumps off the pages and makes you feel as if you are in the book itself, partying at Gatsby's mansion or lounging with Daisy Buchanan. It is a beautiful book, a MUST read, and definitely a true classic!

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