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The Golem and the Jinni
Helene Wecker
Beautiful Ruins: A Novel - Jess Walter Beautiful Ruins started off with such promise. I loved the setting in 1962 Italy with a man trying to build a beach and a beautiful, dying woman showing up in his small town.

However, it starts to lose me once the storylines start bouncing from past to present, character to character, and all over the place. I just couldn't feel any emotional connection to any of the charaters. The storylines jdidn't weave well together and it felt disjointed.

I do think Jess Walter has a good writing style. He could write some really funny parts at times. It just wasn't enough to keep me interested.

The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey Well this was a very dissappointing read. I had similar issues that everyone else had that didn't like this book. It started off pretty good. Cassie seemed like a tough girl, but my annoyance kicked in as soon as Evan came into the story. The love triangle was terribly executed and the plot was VERY obvious as it progressed. This wasn't even close to The Passage or Ender's Game.
The First Man in Rome - Colleen McCullough Whew! 2 months later I can finally put this book to rest. It was quite the endeavor.

Rome is alive in McCullough’s novel. She is an amazing writer and researcher. I’m incredibly impressed with the amount of detail she put into this book. There is a true sense of reality because she didn’t skim over important details to keep her plot moving. Daily life in Rome is explained, which helped me understand why certain political and military decisions were made and how they were perceived by Romans and non-Romans.

Also, the cast of characters are just so intriguing! I didn’t know a great deal about Marius or Sulla but their stories are amazing. Sulla repulsed me at times, but he was supposed to. Also, the role the Julius Caesar family plays is just fascinating and helped me better understand the historical significance of the coming Empire. Also, the side characters from Metellus Piggle Wiggle, Publius Rutilius Rufus (and his awesome letters), Scaurus, and so many more are very well developed (and hilarious), and I enjoyed reading about their roles in Marius’s story.

The reason I’m giving this book 4 stars vs. 5 stars is that I did get a little bored at times. I felt that some of the military battles felt a little long (more the preparation than the actual battle) and the descriptions of every small detail had me skimming. Sometimes I just didn’t care about how a certain house was set up and why. I understand some people want to read all of these details, but I didn’t. Also, sometimes I got a little confused about the structure of the republic from the senate to the plebs to other positions of power in Rome.

Overall, I loved this book and would recommend this to someone who finds Ancient Rome as interesting as I do. However, I still believe that [b:I, Claudius|18765|I, Claudius (Claudius, #1)|Robert Graves|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348245799s/18765.jpg|4232388]is the BEST historical fiction I’ve ever read. Also, I'm partial to McCullough's [b:The Thorn Birds|3412|The Thorn Birds|Colleen McCullough|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348803598s/3412.jpg|816449] It can be a bit melodramatic but I can't help it!
The Moon and More - Sarah Dessen I enjoy reading a Sarah Dessen book every once in awhile. They are usually fun and light. Sometimes you just need that! I was excited about making this my "beach book". However, I felt this book was just okay. It wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. Just average.

Sarah's writing is always solid; but, I wasn't as crazy about the characters this time around. They didn't move me like some many others have in the past.

Just Listen - Sarah Dessen I always seem to read a Sarah Dessen book at the right time in my life. I read "Along For the Ride" right after I had my daughter. If you've had the opportunity to read "Along for the Ride" you will understand why this is so significant.

However, this is a review for "Just Listen" which I actually liked better than "Along for the Ride."

The story focuses on Annabel Greene, a high school girl who happens to be a model and appears to have the "perfect life". She is the youngest of three sisters and goes out of her way to please the people around her even if that means not telling the complete truth. She doesn't want to hurt the people around her and avoids conflict. She goes through a very personal event that leads her to question her actions/inactions.

This really resonated with me. I too have dealt with an extreme need to please the people around me to the point where it's a fault. I saw my teenage self in Annabell in many ways and understand why this can be a bad thing. It's something that I want to address with my daughter.

As I side note, I LOVE Whitney she was my favorite character in the entire story.
Legend - Marie Lu This was an okay read. Definetly fast paced. However, I just wasn't crazy about the storyline. It just felt a little over done. I've read the majority of it before. I keep hearing the 2nd book in the series is better. I've alraedy bought it so I'm going to give it a go.
Bitterblue - Kristin Cashore, Ian Schoenherr I wasn't as crazy about this book as I was her other two.
Outlander - Diana Gabaldon After rave reviews I was expecting more. I had a hard time staying interested.
Days of Blood & Starlight - Laini Taylor Well, if you are looking for romance this is not the book for you! Days of Blood and Starlight picks up where Daughter of Smoke and Bone left us. Even though I enjoyed this book, it wasn't as strong as Daugther of Smoke and Bone in my opinion. At times I felt like it dragged. However, it was good enough to continue my interest in the story, and I look forward to reading the next one.
Snuggle Puppy! (Boynton on Board) - Sandra Boynton My daughter is 3 months old and she LOVES Snuggle Puppy! We've just started reading time as a part of her bedtime routine and this book holds her attention more than any other. You can tell she likes the song and is captivated by the images. As many other reviewers have said, it's fun to make up your own tune to the song.
Insurgent - Veronica Roth I just didn't love Insurgent as much as I hoped I would. It felt a bit disjointed, and I didn't feel too interested until the very end. I will ready the final book though.
I, Claudius - Robert Graves This books is absolutely fantastic. A better review to come.
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden Absolutely a beautiful written tale. I saw the movie in 2005 but for some reason never read the novel. I had a friend recently mention to me that this was her favorite book and that the movie didn't capture the true nature of Sayuri's story. She was right and I'm so glad that I finally ready Memoirs of a Geisha.
The Paris Wife - Paula McLain I just couldn't get into The Paris Wife. I LOVE this time period so I thought it would be right up my alley. However, I feel this fictionalized version of Ernest and Hadley Hemingway fell flat. There just wasn't much heart.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America - Erik Larson I'm not the type of person that LOVES non-fiction. I enjoy them but don't LOVE them. However, The Devil in the White City is different. I seriously loved every minute of this book and was sad that I had to finish it.

Larson is a true master at his craft. He has weaved the stories of Daniel Burnham and H.H. Holmes in such a fascinating way! He tells the awe-inspiring story of the Chicago World's Fair and the importance the fair had on architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, and building moral of a country on the brink of an economic disaster. Additionally, it tells a horrific story of unspeakable evil that's hard to believe ever happened.

The Mists of Avalon - Marion Zimmer Bradley First off, I did enjoy reading The Mists of Avalon immensely. However, there were some issues that could not allow me to give this fantasy novel above three stars.

Let's begin with a few aspects of the story that I really enjoyed.

1) The plot of TMOA is fantastic. The idea of taking the well known Authorian legend and telling the story from the women's perspective is brilliant.Bradley did a fantastic job of describing the people of Avalon and Camelot in new and interesting ways.

2) Morgaine is a wonderful heroine. She is very human while also embodying the goddess. She makes plenty of mistakes throughout the novel but you can't help but love her and become invested in her well being. Additionally, the "Morgaine speaks" portions of the novel are by far the best prose Bradley writes. They are beautifully done.

However, there are some things that I didn't enjoy about TMOA.

1) Bradley needed a better editor. This over 800 page book is just way to long! It starts off so strong and sort of loses its way halfway through the novel and struggles to gain momentum toward the end of the story.

2) The reason why the story couldn't gain momentum is because Bradley is very one-sided in her beliefs and decides to beat her readers over the head with them. The novel very much focuses on the premise that Christians are bad and the pagans are good. There is just no middle ground with this topic. When I started reading TMOA I LOVED reading about the priestesses in Avalon, the druid rituals and beliefs, and their religious and political pull throughout Britain. It is very fascinating! But by the middle of the book the religious aspect of the book becomes boring and annoying. I cannot tell you how many times the same conversation takes place between characters arguing about Christianity vs. Paganism. Trust me. We got it about half way through the novel. Additionally, there is not a single Christian character with any redeeming qualities. All of the priests are described as stupid and close-minded.

3) Most people that love this book hail it as an epic feminist story. However, in some ways I disagree with that. Most of the female characters mope and moan over unrequited love throughout the entire novel! Gwenhwyfar is a very one-sided character and there is nothing redeeming about her.I understand that the author is trying to show the differences between Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar which ultimately shows the differences between Christians and Pagans. However, the author making Gwenhwyfar the scapegoat only implies the same old story of a woman being the downfall leading the world to chaos.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a character driven epic fantasy.