Review: The Night Circus

the-night-circus“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.” – Goodreads

I’m so conflicted about The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It was a strange read for me, in that I liked it – yet at the same time, I did not like it. Allow me to explain.

I like things to be happening in the books that I read. Whether it be detailed introspection by a singular character, or interaction between multiple characters, I want things to be moving along. I need that… sense of life imbued upon the pages. For the first half of The Night Circus, this was very rare. There was quite a lot of descriptive language: about people, about objects, and most certainly about the circus and its attractions and performers. Don’t get me wrong – it was beautiful, magical language and I would have appreciated it much more had there been much less of it. About two-thirds of the way through the novel, things started moving right along – and I became a happy, happy woman. When Marco and Celia finally met – fireworks exploded! It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship – between myself, and The Night Circus.

Here’s a rundown of the basic story: Magician father has daughter (Celia) with super-powers. His arch-rival trains student (Marco) in the art of magic, as well. Father and arch-rival  bind the two children to a life-long duel of wits and powers that only one will survive. What no one expects is for love to blossom in the middle of this life-or-death battle. How the two young lovers attempt to transcend their fate will put their powers to the ultimate test.

The Night Circus also entertains quite the cast of unique and enchanting supporting characters. We have Tsukiko, the Japanese contortionist. Isobel, the tarot-card reading spy. Poppet and Widget, the flame-haired young twins born the opening night of the circus. Last, but not least, Bailey – who may just be the savior of the Circus in the end.

As mentioned previously, the pacing in this novel is off. For a book about an intense battle and love story, things did not begin to become intense until the last third of the novel. While I sincerely enjoyed the love story (I’m pretty much a big sap, sad but true) there was no real catalyst for it – the romance basically bloomed merely because the author deemed it so. While this was enough for me, more demanding readers might be a bit more skeptical.

I truly did enjoy The Night Circus once things began to move along for me. While I’m not generally a fan of magic and fantasy in my literature, it was just subtle enough in this novel so as not to offend me. By the time the book ended, I had forgotten my frustration with the beginning pages, and was left with the wonder of the magic and beauty of the last. I do not regret this read, and you won’t either.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Buy it, read it, love it.

3 stars

Source: Free Library of Philadelphia

 

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Bout of Books 11 is Here!

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It’s that time again, y’all – I’m about to get my read on with Bout of Books 11! From August 18th through August 24th, I’ll be reading like a madwoman. For those of you who don’t remember what Bout of Books is, here’s a quick refresher course:

“The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.” – From the Bout of Books team

In the near future, I will be posting a list of goals for the upcoming challenge week. I will also be posting daily updates throughout the read-a-thon. If you think you might like to join me, click here!

 

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The #EstellaProject, Summer 2014

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I’m so jealous of all of these challenges and read-alongs that I see other book bloggers participating in all of the time. Where do they find the time and energy? This Spring I took the leap and participated in one of the easiest challenges ever, The Bout of Books 10 Read-a-thon, which was nice and fun, and I got to put a cute little badge on my blog, and got to feel like I accomplished something… but now I feel like too much time has passed, and I need to do more. What perfect timing, because The Estella Project, Season 2 has come to my rescue!

The #EstellaProject, hosted by The Estella Society, involves a list of books (gathered via a poll of its readers) from which participants must choose two to three to read and review. Reviews are then posted on the participants’ blogs and linked to on The #EstellaProject, Season 2 linky page. There is also a read-along scheduled for July 21st – August 18th for those who want to participate; the featured book is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I haven’t decided if I’m going to read along with that one or not – it remains to be seen…

So! Here we go – I have chosen to read three books from the given list:

I have to read and review all three books by September 1st, 2014. I’m currently 70% done with Eleanor & Park. The Boy and I just began reading To Kill a Mockingbird together as a Read Aloud book (don’t let your tweens tell you they don’t like being read out loud to, y’all – they love it!). All that will be left soon is The Night Circus! Moving right along, folks, moving right along. Keep your eyes open for my reviews of these books over the next several weeks. If you would like to learn more about The #EstellaProject, please click here.

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In Which I am Very Inspiring

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Y’all, I am so honored to say that I was recently nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by one of my very favorite book bloggers: Cathy at 746 Books! She, and her blog, are awesome and I take it as a compliment of the highest order that she has bestowed this upon me. In order to accept this award, there are a few things I am required to do:

    1. Thank and provide a link to the amazing person who nominated me (check!).
    2. List the rules and display the award in this post.
    3. Share seven facts about myself.
    4. Nominate 10 other amazing blogs and leave them emails/comments to let them know.
    5. Optional: Proudly display the award badge on my blog and follow the blogger who nominated me (check, check!!).

I always cringe when someone says to me, “Tell me something about yourself…” That said, here are seven random facts about moi:

1. I read approximately 4 – 7 books each week.

It’s true, I read like a crazy woman. I have since I was a young girl. Reading is my way of relaxing, of escaping reality and recharging. It is the balm upon my soul.

2. If I didn’t have a book blog, I would try my hand at a homemaking blog.

I love reading homemaking blogs and imagining myself wearing cute little aprons as I expertly care for my home and family. Dorky, I know, but true.

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3. I am a homeschooling mom.

I took the leap this past Fall and pulled my son out of public school so we could homeschool. It has been wonderful and I haven’t regretted my decision once. I wish I could have done this years ago.

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4. I am addicted to chapstick. Seriously. I need therapy.

This is my current favorite.

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5. I am obsessed with vintage linens and quilts.

Sheets, pillowcases, quilts, dish towels, and tablecloths. I adore them. They remind me of my Grandma Choo-Choo. If I had the money I would have them on all my beds and in my kitchen. Etsy would be my playground!

vintage-linens

6. I want chickens. Lots of chickens.

A while back, I accidently happened upon this website, and I found my calling in life. Backyard Chickens! Someday I hope to live on an acreage, but until then I just want a small little coop in my backyard with two to three chickens. It makes me so happy just thinking about it. Cluck!

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7. I’m moving in three weeks and haven’t even started packing yet.

This is my world. I am the Queen of Procrastination. I can be very orderly and actually have quite a few OCD tendencies, but that’s not until I get started with what it is I need to be doing. Until then, I hide in a corner with a book.

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All righty then, that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about some of the wonderful bloggers who I adore and admire out there on the interwebs:

  1. Jessica at Quirky Bookworm was the first book blogger I ever discovered, and opened the door to a whole new world for me!
  2. Amanda at Dead White Guys, Etc. is brilliantly witty and never fails to make me think – and laugh quite a bit while doing so.
  3. Kelly at the Well-Read Redhead was one of my first commenters when I first started out, giving me support that I really needed. She’s also a semi-new SAHM and is training for a half-marathon – go, Kelly!
  4. Taryn at Reading With Hippos has an upbeat blog with a great premise – she only writes recommendations vs. reviews. Her mother always told her that if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all – so that’s exactly what she does. Love it!
  5. Matt at A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook has great taste in books and writes awesome reviews. He is also one of the first book bloggers I started following back in the day.
  6. Sarcasm (my favorite!) abounds at The Reader’s Respite. Two other awesome things about Michele: she’s an airline pilot and she can name every character of My Little Pony.
  7. Read Aloud Dad takes his twins’ literature seriously. Reading with kids is a cause close to my heart as well, and I appreciate his dedication.
  8. Heather at Book Addiction reads some mad good books and writes mad good reviews!
  9. Julie at Booking Mama is another SAHM who funnels her passion for books into a blog for all of us voracious readers. She happens to be a runner, too. (What’s with these SAHM runners? Did I miss that part of the job description?)
  10. Serendipitous Readings is a tumblr. blog with tons of great pics and graphics. I love browsing through her site on slow days.

Disclaimer:

I don’t want to put pressure on anyone. If my chosen bloggers choose not to take part in this, I don’t mind at all. I follow many blogs and find them all inspiring. Thank you to all of you out there in the book blogosphere for doing what you do. Keep fighting the good fight, y’all!

 

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Bout of Books 10: Day 6

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So…. Day Six of Bout of Books 10 didn’t work out as well as the past five days did. I was all set to read this great book that I’d borrowed from my online digital library, but then – it vanished. Yes, y’all, I had ignorantly planned to read a book that was due on the day I was going to read it. Smart, huh? So, with just a couple of reading hours left to my day, I whipped out a trio of short stories by Michael Connelly and tore into those instead. Let’s take a look:

Number of books read on Saturday:

  • 1

Total number of books completed:

  • 7

Books read:

Now, I must admit that Angle of Investigation, while a compilation of short stories, still only compares in length to a short novella. So, I don’t claim to take credit for reading an entire novel here or anything like that. But, it was a nice little taste of Michael Connelly and his trademark character Harry Bosch, and so I have no regrets. I’m looking at reading Charlaine Harris’s newest novel for the last day of the read-a-thon, so check back tomorrow for Update #7!

 

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Bout of Books 10: Day 5

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We’re down to the last two days of Bout of Books 10, y’all, and I’m moving full-steam ahead. Still keeping up my momentum at one book ahead of my goals – might I even complete an unexpected eight book? Hard to say at this point, but I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed. Let’s take a look at how Day #5 panned out:

Number of books read on Friday:

  • 1

Total number of books completed:

  • 6

Books read:

I loved this heartwarming but heartbreaking novel. It may even make my favorites list for 2014! No time for those decisions now, however – I must be moving on to my next fine piece of literature… Stick around for tomorrow, y’all, when I’ll post Update #6!

 

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Bout of Books 10: Day 4

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All right, y’all, we’re over halfway through Bout of Books 10 and I’m ahead of the game by one book – can I keep up the momentum? That remains to be seen… Let’s take a look at how I did on Day #4:

Number of books read on Thursday:

  • 1

Total number of books completed:

  • 5

Books read:

Oh, I love me some Maggie Hope! I’m a huge fan of Susan Elia MacNeal and this fourth installment in the Maggie Hope Mystery series did not disappoint. As the world moves deeper into the war in 1941, MacNeal’s writing has become a bit darker than her previous novels, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As always, her sharp attention to detail and historical fact really make the book sing. I’m looking forward to reading tomorrow’s book selection, as well, so don’t forget to check back then for Update #5!

 

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Bout of Books 10: Day 3

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Three days into Bout of Books 10! I had a bit more down time yesterday than I had previously this week, so I got a good bit of reading done, finishing one book and completing another entire novel, as well. Score one for Pathologically Literate! Let’s take a look:

Number of books read on Wednesday:

  • 1.5

Total number of books read:

  • 4

Books read:

I definitely was not shocked and awed by Still Life With Bread Crumbs – Quindlen kind of left me hanging with this one. Looking for Alaska, though – oh! This was my second John Green novel, and while nothing will ever live up to The Fault in Our Stars, it was still pretty darn great! I’m fairly certain (and certainly hopeful) that I’ve got some more great ones in my stash for this week, so stay tuned tomorrow for Update #4!

 

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Bout of Books 10: Day 2

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I made it through another day of Bout of Books 10, y’all! Yesterday was full of appointments and errands, but I persevered and finished one book while making it halfway through another. That’s what I call getting’ my read on! Let’s take a look:

Number of books read on Tuesday:

  • 1.25

Total number of books completed:

  • 2

Books read:

While my first book of the read-a-thon was a major hit, the second and third haven’t really pushed my buttons – I’m particulary disappointed about that fact pertaining to Valdes’ novel, as I’m a huge fan of her Dirty Girls’ Social Club novels (as well as most of her others!). It turns out self-publication wasn’t the best move on her part… but that’s another rant for another day. Thanks for dropping by, y’all, and come back tomorrow for Update #3!

 

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Bout of Books 10: Day 1

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Well, y’all, thanks to a raging bout of insomnia, I got a head start on my reading for the first day of Bout of Books 10. Yay, insomnia! Wait, what? Uhm, not so much… Let’s take a look at how things went:

Number of books read on Monday:

1.33

Total number of books completed:

1

Books I read:

Technically, I should have been able to finish Lauren’s Saints of Dirty Faith on the same day, but The Boy and homeschooling demanded much of my attention throughout the day, and I wound up retiring to bed early last night to make up for my bout of sleeplessness the night before. That’s OK, I’m making up for it today – catch you all tomorrow with Update #2!

 

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