Books I've Read

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Night CircusYou guys, I am so in love with this book.

This year has been a great year for reading. So far, I haven’t really had very many books that were clinkers. Nearly all the books I’ve read have been wonderful, but this one . . . this one is probably my favorite of the year. I asked for this book around Christmas, so it sat on my bookshelf for nearly six months. What a waste of time! I could have known about this book six months earlier. Sigh. Oh well. On to the review.

The book begins by describing this very strange, mysterious circus. It arrives one day, seemingly out of the blue, and it is only open at night. Instead of the usual garish splashes of color, Le Cirque des Reves is made up of tents in stark black and white, which makes the wondrous acts within stand out even more.

But this world of amazement is only the arena for a fierce battle. Two old magicians, one known as Prospero the Enchanter, the other sometimes called Alexander (but usually just referred to as “the man in the grey suit”), have chosen champions to fight in a “game,” where only the winner will survive. Prospero chooses his daughter, Celia; the man in grey, a street urchin named Marco. These children grow up learning magic and knowing that, one day, they will face an unknown opponent, one they are expected to defeat.

As the years go by, the Cirque becomes their battlefield, as new tents appear filled with breathtaking sights. Fans follow the Cirque all over the world, calling themselves “Reveurs.” In the meantime, Celia and Marco finally recognize each other as opponents in this game, but that doesn’t stop them from falling in love. As the rest of the Cirque swirls around them, the two young people must find a way for both of them to survive the competition if there is any hope for them to be together.

The Cirque also draws a young boy named Bailey away from his home life of boredom. His parents expect him to go to an Ivy League school someday, but Bailey is a dreamer. Once he befriends some people from the Cirque, the twins Poppet and Widget, his life is set on a course that will change everything, both for Bailey and for the Cirque itself.

It’s so hard to tell what this book is about without getting completely gushy about it, and without giving away anything. This is a book to just sink into, to immerse yourself in. Morgenstern’s writing is impecable, not too overdone or flowery. In fact, it’s her simpler way of describing things that makes the Cirque stand out even more. There are little sections where she flips into second person point of view (“Your curiousity got the better of you . . .”), allowing the reader to seemingly experience the circus first hand. This is a very tricky thing to do, but it’s done very well here.

This book is romantic, mysterious, and all around wonderful. Go read it. Now.

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday for June 26th

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Happy Wednesday everyone! Half-way to the weekend, thank ye gods! Today’s WWW Wednesday post is hosted by the lovely MizB at “Should Be Reading.” Three questions, three answers. Go!

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. It has been so fun to rediscover these books. I can’t remember the last time I read them all, but it’s been at least a few years.

What did you recently finish?

Obviously, I finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone last week, but I’m more excited to say . . . I finally finished Fire by Kristin Cashore! This one has been on my TBR pile for so long, so it was nice to finally get around to reading it.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Other than Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I’m not sure. I found out that one of the local libraries has Bitterblue, the third book in Kristin Cashore’s series. I’m tempted to go and get it so I can finish out this series, just like I said I would back in January.

Teaser Tuesday · Top Ten Tuesdays

Teasers and Top Tens – June 25th

Happy Tuesday everyone! This is the day of my two favorite features, so let’s get started!

Teaser Tuesday

First up is Teaser Tuesday, hosted by MizB at “Should Be Reading.” The rules are simple. Here’s how to play!

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Your sons flew that car to Harry’s house and back last night!” shouted Mrs. Weasley. “What have you got to say about that, eh?”

“Did you really?” said Mr. Weasley eagerly. “Did it go all right? I – I mean,” he faltered as sparks flew from Mrs. Weasley’s eyes, “that – that was very wrong, boys – very wrong indeed . . .”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

I just love the Weasleys. Don’t you? 🙂

* * *

toptentuesday

Next up, Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the folks over at “The Broke and the Bookish.” This is a topic I have been really looking forward to, so here we go!

Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2013

1. The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern – Words cannot describe how much I loved this book, although I’d better find some words, since I’m reviewing it this week! Mysterious, ethereal, beautiful, romantic . . . and that still doesn’t do it justice. So, so good.

2. Of Shadow Born by Dianne Sylvan – This long awaited fourth book in the Shadow World series was worth the wait. The plot thickens, more twists and turns, and my favorite vampires are off on an entirely new adventure.

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – My first introduction to Stephanie Perkins, which I was very glad to have. Her books are sweet and funny, and so is she. It was a blast getting to meet her in Raleigh.

4. The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson – Another long awaited sequel that was worth it, although now I really need the next one. A crazy, unexpected ending left me (and most of Twitter, apparently) stunned and confused and clammering for the next book. We need it now!!!

5. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl – This was another book with a great atmospheric feel to it. I definitely plan to read the rest of the books in the series at some point. And see the movie, to see if it was any good.

6. Blackout by Mira Grant – These books are just . . . wow. Unexpected does not even cover it. I never thought I would enjoy a zombie book series as much as I did. They are sharp, suspenseful, with an ambiguous final act that feels just right. You couldn’t force a perfect ending to these books, and I’m glad that Mira Grant didn’t try to.

7. House Rules by Chloe Neill – I got to read the entire Chicagoland Vampires series this year, and it has since become my second favorite vampire series of all time. House Rules will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first physical copy ARC I’ve ever gotten. I’m grateful for the digital ARC’s, don’t get me wrong, but there was something special about holding the actual book.

8. Skinned by Robin Wasserman – This book was a total surprise. I picked it up at the used bookstore knowing very little about it, and certainly did not expect what I got. It was thought provoking and strange, but also very compelling. Another series I want to finish.

9. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – While I’m not as rabid a fan as some, I did really like this book. It was fun to get completely lost in the history, and anytime you get to traipse around Europe is a good time.

10. Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey – My first introduction to the Valdemar books, and yes, I do plan to eventually read them all. That means a lot of reading though, so we’ll see when I can schedule it all in.

Please share your teasers or top tens!

Drabbles

Inventory

bookstackLast week, someone asked me how many books I had, and how many of those books were on this famous “to be read stack” that sits on my desk and glares at me. So I decided to take inventory and figure out exactly where I stand.

I own 246 physical copies of books. This number does not include text books, literary anthologies, second copies of books, or any of my husband’s books.

Of those 246 books, 23 of them have never been read. Some of these are novels that I bought for the class that I had to drop, but I do still plan on reading them, so they count.

I also have 21 books on my Kindle.

Of those 21 books, 4 of them have never been read.

I would love to go through and re-read a whole bunch of stuff, but I just don’t have the time right now. Just going through my bookshelves, I found books that I haven’t read in a long time, books I had almost forgotten about. Maybe once I catch up on all these un-read books I can go through and do a massive re-reading. That would be fun. Now I just need to stop buying new stuff. And avoid the library. Hmmm . . . . that’s going to be hard.

Books I've Read

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

discovery of witchesI read this book both as a book club discussion at the Mallorean Tavern (see the discussion thread here) and as a podcast episode (see episode post here). Through the course of these discussions, I found that this is a favorite book of many people, and while I did enjoy it, I don’t think it’s taking that place for me.

Diana Bishop is a historian studying in residence at Oxford University. Her primary focus is the history of science, including alchemy. One day, she calls up a manuscript from the Bodleian Library and realizes that it has some sort of strange magic spell on it.

Did I mention that Diana is a witch? And not just a witch, but from a famous family of witches, dating back to the Salem witch trials?

This manuscript has apparently been deemed missing for years, when it suddenly appears at Diana’s request. Because of this, magical creatures from all over Oxford start following Diana, waiting for her to request the manuscript again. One of those creatures is Matthew Clairmont, a vampire who also happens to be studying biology and genetics. Diana has long since tried to distance herself from her magical roots, leaving her vulnerable to the other witches who want to use her to get the manuscript, which is very powerful and could possibly hold the secrets of their entire existence. As Matthew tries his best to protect Diana, they are drawn into a forbidden romance, since witches and vampires are not supposed to mix. What follows is a bit of a whirlwind. We travel through England and Scotland, to France and then to Diana’s family home in America. Diana struggles to come into her powers as a witch and it is soon clear that she is very powerful indeed.

My main complaint with this book has to do with pacing. Harkness is a historian herself, so she throws in a whole lot of detail about . . . well, everything. Her writing is beautifully crafted, but her extreme attention to details sometimes drags the plot to a snail’s pace. There were many times that I thought to myself, “Just get on with it! I don’t care what kind of food they’re eating!” They could have probably shaved 100 pages off the book (which is long, at 579 pages in the paperback edition) and still been able to tell the story just fine.

Overall, the story was very interesting, I liked the characters, and I was intrigued enough to read the second book in this series as well (review coming soon). And yes, I will probably read the third book when it comes out, because I do want to find out what happens.

My GoodReads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday for June 19th

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Today’s post is hosted once again by MizB over at “Should Be Reading.” Three questions, three answers. Go!

What are you currently reading?

I’m still working on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. I’ve also picked up Fire by Kristin Cashore again. I had started reading it, but then put it down for over a week, so I couldn’t remember all the details about what had happened. Luckily I hadn’t made it that far.

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey, which we reviewed over at “Bibliophiles Anonymous” podcast. My co-host, Jess, has been trying to get me to read the Valdemar books for YEARS! The episode was a lot of fun. Check it out!

What do you think you’ll read next?

Obviously, I plan on reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets next. Speaking of the podcast, we’re planning on having a Harry Potter party for the month of July. It was the perfect excuse to re-read the whole series again. 🙂 Other than that, I’m not sure what else I’ll be reading. I’ve got to finish these books first!

Those are my answers. What are yours?

Teaser Tuesday · Top Ten Tuesdays

Tuesday Teasers and Top Tens – June 18th

Teaser Tuesday

Welcome to my favorite blogging day of the week! First up is Teaser Tuesdays, hosted by MizB at “Should Be Reading.” Here’s how to play:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser doesn’t tease very much, since it’s from a book that most people have read by now.

“I AM NOT PAYING FOR SOME CRACKPOT OLD FOOL TO TEACH HIM MAGIC TRICKS!” yelled Uncle Vernon.

But he had finally gone too far. Hagrid seized his umbrella and whirled it over his head, “NEVER –” he thundered, “INSULT — ALBUS — DUMBLEDORE — IN — FRONT — OF — ME!”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Yep, I am currently re-reading the Harry Potter books! 🙂 The podcast is doing a big Harry Potter party in July. Expect several “teasers” from them over the next few weeks.

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Next up is Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by “The Broke and the Bookish.” This week’s topic is so easy. You only want ten? I can give you a lot more than that! But I won’t. These are all the new books that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet, but will be read this summer, by hook or by crook!

Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR List

I’m not going to count the Harry Potter books, although they’re definitely on there.

1. Fire by Kristin Cashore

2. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

3. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

4. The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

5. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

6. Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham

7. Divergent by Veronica Roth

8. White Cat by Holly Black

9. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

10. Mind Games by Kiersten White