Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus cover

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Anchor Books

Publication Date: July 2012 (paperback)

512 pages, paperback

Check out the synopsis on Goodreads.

This book was recommended to me by AT LEAST 10 people. Every one of those people raved about it saying it was amazing, etc. So of course I had to check it out. I don’t think I was a victim of the hype monster. At least, I tried to go into it with no expectations (but I suppose some of them were still there).

Overall, this book was okay. The beginning was really interesting, the middle part dragged, and the end was awesome. I’m finding it difficult to put into words how I felt about this book for that reason.

The beginning: What a COOL idea! A circus that arrives without warning as if it appeared by magic. It only opens at night and closes when the sun rises. Called the Circus of Dreams. There’s going to be a battle of sorts between two magicians/illusionists/enchanters/whatever you want to call them, and the circus will be their arena. This is a seriously interesting premise for a book, and I enjoyed that part quite a bit.

What I was more unsure of in the beginning was the writing. The novel begins in the second person. Yep, second person. I don’t find this very effective in any sort of writing except for an occasional short story. Thankfully, these sections are rare with probably only 15 in the whole novel, each only a couple of pages. Also, the sections that are the actual story are written in the present tense though they are set about a century or more ago. This threw me off too.

The middle: Jesus, the middle. I literally had to take a break from the book and read another book for two days because I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. I don’t EVER do this. I don’t like leaving one world for another while I’m reading, but I had to. I did want to find out what happened with the battle and what the endgame was and what would happen to each of the characters, but the middle section is practically pointless in my opinion.

The end: The last third of this novel is incredible. Starting with Part IV and continuing until the end of the novel. I was actually really into the novel this whole time and finished the last 120 pages or so in no time. It was exciting and had me on the edge of my seat, flipping pages as quickly as I could to see what happened. Such a difference from the middle when I was flipping pages as quickly as I could to get it over with. So it wasn’t until the last two parts that I found myself actually really like The Night Circus.

We get some beautiful scenes with Celia and Marco, the two illusionists who were supposed to be battling; they were poignant and sad and wonderful, and I just loved all of the little moments when they were together – these were some of my favorite parts. The end is beautifully wrapped up but not too perfect, which I appreciated.

So overall? It was okay. The last third did try to make up for that horrible middle section. This book is 512 pages; it could’ve been AT LEAST 150 pages shorter in my opinion. Most of that middle section could have been shortened to about 50 pages. I really did love that last third though.

This novel is very, very visual. The colors, places, characters, and circus are all easily pictured. To me, a lot of the novel read like a screenplay though; settings and characters described as if setting for a movie or TV show. Actually, this novel would be perfectly suited for either of those. Maybe a Guillermo del Toro movie or something.

The bottom line: This novel was not quite what I was expecting. It’s got a seriously cool concept but fell pretty flat for me, at least in the middle. The last third is awesome though. I do see why some people love this novel so much. Definitely worth a shot.

Rating: 6 – good, but not great

Quote Quoted: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus

I am STILL reading The Night Circus. I had to take a break from it, but now that I’ve picked it back up a few days later, I’m enjoying it more than I was before. So that’s good. I read this quote yesterday and I thought it was just a beautiful visual and really atmospheric. I had to share. 🙂

There is the softest of sobbing as the coffin is lowered into the ground, but it is difficult to pinpoint who it is coming from, or if it is instead a collective sound of mingled sighs and wind and shifting feet.

I just really liked it. So that’s it. I just wanted to share the quote.

Hope everyone has a good day!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!The Fill-In Boyfriend

Publisher: HarperTeen

Author: Kasie West

Release date: May 5, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Why I’m excited: I’m in the mood for a cute book, and this one fits the bill. Unfortunately, I have to wait like SEVEN freaking months to read it! 😦 Maybe I’ll be able to get my hands on ARC of this one! I certainly hope so. The Fill-In Boyfriend sounds adorable and fun and different. Whether or not I get an ARC, I’ll be checking this one out!

Seize the Tuesday [2] – Thank goodness for Skype

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Seize the Tuesday is a book blogger meme created by Adi Alsaid and the Let’s Get Lost Buddies Street Team, to share stories about how we’ve seized the Tuesday, with a special focus on the particular book we’re reading. We’ll share our posts online with the hashtag: #LetsAllGetLost. The idea is to share little ways in which you may have embraced Bree’s motto of seizing the Tuesday. To relate it to books, you can talk about what book you’re reading, and how you stole some moments from the day to enjoy reading. It doesn’t have to be about reading, but we all know that a well-read day is a day seized. The idea is not just to help spread the word on LGL, but also to remind people to live fully, even/especially if that means spending a part of your reading.

Today I got to Skype with one of my favorite people. We have pretty much the same personality, recommend books to each other all the time (more on this soon), and just happen to live on different continents. Her name is Jo, and she blogs over at Drifting Pages. I met her when I lived in Scotland during late 2012-late 2013 while I was pursuing my Master’s degree. She’s one of the people that I always enjoy talking to and make time during my week to do so.

Jo and I have the wonderful ability to make each other laugh even when we don’t want to. We always have hilarious conversations and end up talking a lot longer than we intended to do so. It had been a little longer between Skype conversations than usual this time, but it never feels like it for us. I think our trick is that we don’t talk every day. We don’t need to. We hate the boring “Hey. How are you? I’m good. Good.” conversations. Do you know what I mean? When you message someone every day and nothing has changed, you’re still the same, there’s no news, you’re still good. Those conversations can be boring, and our conversations are never like that. Plus, we live on different continents, so we couldn’t really talk every day anyway with our schedules.

Another reason I appreciate Jo is that we both love books. LOVE books. And being passionate-about-the-things-we-love people, we really enjoy telling each other about books we’ve read and loved. Jo recommended The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (my current read) to me with a passion that I had felt when I recommended Matt Haig’s The Humans to her, which she read. One of the best things about our friendship is that even if the other person doesn’t feel the same passion about something as the recommender, it isn’t an issue. We just appreciate that the other person will listen to us fangirl and will try the thing we enjoyed.

So basically this whole post is about how much I appreciate having Jo in my life and being able to talk to her even though we are an ocean apart. I believe in showing people how much I love them, and I hope this shows Jo.

Miss you, Jo.

BLOG TOUR: Mortal Enchantment – Review Only Blog Tour

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I read and reviewed the prequel to this novel, The Shadow Prince, HERE if you’d like to read it first!

“Mortal Enchantment spins a unique twist on elemental mythology. This series is not to be missed.” – Jennifer L. Armentrout, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

MortalEnchantment_coverIn Kalin Matthew’s world, elementals control the forces of nature. They are divided into four courts: air, woodland, fire, and water. At sixteen she will leave the life she’s built with her mortal mother. Kalin will move to Avalon to rule with her father—the elemental king of the air court. Along the way, she’s attacked by a fire court assassin and saved by Rowan, a swoon-worthy elemental with a questionable past.

Worst of all, she learns her father is missing.

To rescue him, Kalin will have to work with a judgmental council and a system of courts too busy accusing each other of deceit to actually be able to help her. But, they aren’t her biggest challenge. With the Midwinter’s Ball only five days away, Kalin must take over her father’s duties, which includes shifting control of the elements—power Kalin has yet to realize.

As Rowan attempts to train her, a war looms between the four courts. If Kalin fails, her father will die and the courts will fall, but the betrayal she’s about to uncover may cost her even more…

Mortal Enchantment: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

What I thought:

You might remember from my review of the prequel novella to this series, The Shadow Prince, that I really enjoyed it and was looking forward to reading Mortal Enchantment. I waited a few weeks in between reading them (as I had e-ARCs and such), but I kept looking at Mortal Enchantment on my shelf with excitement. When I finally was able to pick it up, I wasn’t disappointed.

Mortal Enchantment is a fun, fast-paced unique take on elemental mythology. I really enjoyed the setting – Avalon, the world in which all the elementals live divided into four courts that control the elements. These courts – air, water, fire, and woodland – were all fascinating. I’m glad we got to learn more about them in the novel, because the prequel novella definitely got me interested. I thought getting behind the scenes and seeing how Kalin learned to control her powers was really cool. I could almost feel my own fingers burning with the power she was producing.

One thing I wished was different was the length. I wished it were longer! Some of the scenes, especially a particularly important battle scene that had a lot of buildup, were somewhat short and over way too quickly. I could have done with more descriptions here! But instead of focusing on these big moments, the book focuses on the smaller, more intimate moments between Kalin and Rowan or Kalin and her handmaid Ariel. This was enjoyable and allows the reader to get to know these characters better. This isn’t really a complaint: I just wish I had more of the book. All the more reason to read Fragile Reign, the next book in the series!

Two things about Rowan to wrap up this review: 1. I wanted more of him, and 2. He’s got a little bit of an ego, doesn’t he? He knows he’s super sexy and he uses it to his advantage, which is not something I find particularly attractive. I mean, if you know you’re good looking, that’s one thing, but you don’t have to be arrogant about it. Taking this fact into account, it’s funny that I wish we’d had more of him here. I think I was used to reading The Shadow Prince, in which he’s the main character, so trading him off for a different point-of-view was different.

The bottom line: overall, a fun, fast-paced, interesting take on the fantasy genre. I’ll definitely be checking out Fragile Reign when it releases next month!

Rating: 7 – pretty good

Want a chance to win a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card PLUS signed Mortal Enchantment books? Of course you do. Click this Rafflecopter link to enter the giveaway!

For more chances to win and to read more awesome reviews of Mortal Enchantment, check out the tour schedule HERE.

ABOUT STACEY O’NEALE

Stacey_ONealeStacey O’Neale lives in Annapolis, Maryland. When she’s not writing, she spends her time fangirling over books, blogging, watching fantasy television shows, cheering for the Baltimore Ravens, and hanging out with her husband and daughter.

Her career in publishing started as a blogger-turned-publicist for two successful small publishers. Stacey writes young adult paranormal romance and adult science fiction romance. Her books always include swoon-worthy heroes, snarky heroines, and lots of kissing.

Stacey loves hearing from readers. Follow her on Twitter @StaceyONeale, look for her on Facebook, Pinterest, and GoodReads. You can also visit her blog at http://staceyoneale.com/.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

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Top Ten Tuesday: New Series I Want to Start

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top New Series I Want To Start (New..let’s say within the last year or two)

I’m cheating. Some of my series started more than one or two years ago but have had books come out as part of the series in the last year or two. 😉 Also, there’s lots of upcoming series that I really want to read, but I won’t use those.

The Grisha trilogy

The Vicious Deep series

What about you? What new series do you want to start? Link me up to your TTT!

 

Children’s Book Review: Scaredy Squirrel by Mélanie Watt

Scaredy SquirrelThis book was recommended to me on Goodreads in the little sidebar based on something else that I had read (I can’t remember what at the moment), and I thought it looked pretty cute. I requested it at the library where I work and decided to take it home to read instead of reading it at work like I usually do (it’s only 40 pages so it took about five seconds).

It’s really cute! Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his tree; it’s safe, has a great view, and has plenty of nuts for him to eat. The rest of the world is unknown and that it way too scary for Scaredy Squirrel. There might be germs or aliens or poison ivy out there, and he’s not going to risk it. But one day something forces him out of the comfort of his tree into the great unknown and Scaredy Squirrel discovers that it might not be so scary after all.

I quite enjoyed the adorable illustrations and diagrams of Scaredy Squirrel’s home, his escape plan in case of dangerous things, the advantages/disadvantages of never leaving his nut tree, and more! Such a cute way to keep kids engaged. I think the little foldout page might’ve been a waste and unnecessary, but kids love that kind of stuff, so it’s a great kids’ book. I’ll be recommending this one for our preschool story time at the library.

As a lover of travel and experiencing new things, I loved this book. You never know what you’re going to find out in the great unknown if you are too scared to leave where you are most comfortable. You might find new places to call home or new friends to cherish or a great multitude of other, wonderful things out there. Go forth and find them!

If Scaredy Squirrel can do it, you can too.

Publication info:
Scaredy Squirrel
Written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt
Published by Kids Can Press; February 2006
40 pages (hardcover)

SUNDAY FUNDAY: WEEK IN REVIEW [16] – Wisdom teeth, wands, and blue lilies

The lovely Cristina over at Girl in the Pages started Sunday Funday as a way to recap the bookish (and not-so-bookish) things that have happened that week.

October 13 – 19, 2014

So I got my wisdom teeth out on Friday. Fuuuun. Yeah, that was sarcasm. It wasn’t nearly as bad as everyone I’d spoken to made it out to be, but I’m still a little sore and that’s no fun. Luckily, I didn’t go crazy on the anesthesia or have a lot of swelling or anything!

Things you might’ve missed on the blog this week:

ARC Review of Maggie Stiefvater’s Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Members of Adi Alsaid’s (Let’s Get Lost) street team, of which I am a part, have started a weekly meme called Seize the Tuesday. Here’s my first post.

I really enjoyed this week’s Top Ten Tuesday – Places books have made me want to visit.

Coming up on the blog this week: My first blog tour! I’ll be participating in Stacey O’Neale’s Mortal Enchantment blog tour on Tuesday. Usually I have more of the week planned, but the whole wisdom teeth thing has put me behind schedule. I’ll have Top Ten Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday as usual, and probably Seize the Tuesday and WWW Wednesday. I plan on having a couple of reviews too! 🙂

Books read:

I didn’t read that much this week, unfortunately. I read Bats at the Library at the library. 🙂 I also started The Night Circus, finally. I had to take a break from it this weekend, 1. Because of the wisdom teeth, and 2. Because I needed to reread Mortal Enchantment before the blog tour. I read some comics and I am now completely caught up with Saga and The Walking Dead! I also tried Gotham Academy, but I’m not really sure how I feel about that one. Has anyone tried that one?

TBR: I didn’t buy any new books/comics this week, but I added a few books to my TBR. In Mississippi, there’s this award called the Magnolia Award, which is awarded two children’s books in a few different categories. I will be reading the books nominated in the young adult category (9-12 age range) for my library, so I’ve recently added these books to my TBR (Eleanor and Park and Every Day were already on it):

45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson; Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell; Every Day by David Levithan; Orleans by Sherri L. Smith; Since You Asked by Maurene Goo; I’ll also be reading Doll Bones by Holly Black, which is in the 6-8 age range. Have you guys read any of these? I plan on starting with Every Day.

Non-bookish things I’m excited about:

I got these awesome new shoes today!

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At the library where I work, I planned a wand making event. We had a huge turnout, and it was a lot of fun. These are the wands that my boss, my coworker, and I made. Mine’s the one in the middle. 🙂

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Update me on your liiiiives! What have you read this week? Anything exciting happen?

Audiobook Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

PanicAuthor: Lauren Oliver

Narrators: Sarah Drew

Audiobook length: 8 hours, 11 minutes

Genre: Young adult, thriller

Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks (book via HarperCollins)

The plot of this book is really intriguing: in a small, boring town named Carp in the middle of nowhere New York, the students give a dollar every day for the whole year into a pot. The pot is the prize for the winner of Panic, a game that the newly graduated seniors can take part and which tests their courage, smarts, and daring through a series of exceedingly ridiculous and sometimes illegal stunts over the course of the summer. Heather wasn’t going to participate, but she does and throughout the game, her friendships are tested, alliances are made (and broken), and her life is put on the line. Interesting, right?

Well, it was a little underwhelming for me. I’m really glad I listened to this as an audiobook because Sarah Drew’s narration made this book for me. Her cadences and emphasis and ability to race through words to give the listener a sense of the overwhelming panic Heather feels throughout the tasks was amazing. There are lots of feels in this book too. Heather’s family problems with her mother and the relationship between her and her friends goes through a rollercoaster of emotions and changes, and this is definitely a part that Oliver did a seriously good job with.

On the other hand, several parts of this story are unrealistic. To illustrate, I’m going to quote my friend over at Booknerderie’s review of Panic:

The game itself. On what planet do teens participate in a game that consists of breaking and entering, arson, russian roulette and tigers. Not this planet.

In addition to being somewhat unrealistic, it is also seriously predictable at times. I called the end by about halfway through, which is disappointing.

I’m glad I listened to this as an audiobook, because I think if I had read this, I would’ve given up. Unrealistic, predictable, eye-rolling inducing. Yeah, I would’ve given up, but Sarah Drew’s narration made this book actually thrilling. So yay for audiobooks!

Bookish Thoughts: Hey, read this book

This is just a short little post with a picture. But this is pretty much what I feel my blog is like. HEY, READ THIS BOOK. Do it. Now. It’s awesome. Read it. Haha. I suppose that could be a good thing or a bad thing. I just wanted to share. I felt like some of you could relate.

Read it