Monthly Archives: September 2011

End of September Book Haul

I got bored and when I get bored, I often look through hundreds of pages, at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, of bargain books. Often times they are books I’d like to read but sometimes I do just buy random stuff because the cover looks cool. Well, I ended up buying a nice amount of books in the past week. All of the below were Bargain Buys, except for “Beautiful Creatures,” which I bought at full price because I already own “Beautiful Darkness,” the second book, AND “Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi, because I loved “Ship Breaker.”

Yes. I finally gave in and bought “Hush, Hush.” I’ve heard so many mixed reviews but I keep coming back to that awesome, beautiful cover. I’ll definitely review that one.

Update!

I know I’ve been rather quiet recently. I heard the crickets too.

I have started reading the Hunger Games trilogy and finally got on board the whole “obsessed with Hunger Games” train. Because the books are so popular, I decided not to review them. I mean, the first book has over three thousand reviews on Amazon. I really doubt my review would say anything the others have not. I can say that it’s definitely a 5-star read for me. I got so sucked into the book that I haven’t really read much else and it’s taken me a long time to read because I am savoring every moment.

So please bear with me as I read this trilogy and then continue on with my reviews and such. I’m also going to be doing a big “Mailbox” post because even though I said I would buy no more books – I lied. :X

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre:  Fiction
Rating: 3/5

Why I picked it: Loved the premise from the get-go.

Synopsis: 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, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Review: I know I am going to reflect the minority here but I did not love the book as much as I wanted to. Maybe it was the repeated hype and build-up, or maybe it was my own excitement, but I really expected a lot out of this book and it did not deliver.

First of all, it took me about 100 pages to get into the book, which was longer than anticipated. I kept reading but it took me a while to get into the energy and flow of the back-and-forth dialogue enough to be truly excited about picking it back up.  While the writing and description were wonderful, the characters struck me as rather bland.  I felt this especially about Marco and Celia, who – as two of the more magical people – could have been focused on more, and given more time in the book. The whole storyline is centered on this competition that both Marco and Celia are unwilling participants in. Instead of pity or empathy, I could offer no emotions for the two protagonists as they did not come off as tangible people. I understand this is supposed to be “magical” but what good is magic if there is no element to tie it to the reader?

My favorites, by far, were the secondary characters – Bailey, Herr Thiessen, Poppet and Widget, and Tsukiko. The colorfulness of these characters, added to the overwhelming blandness of the gray mood of the circus as a whole. While we get bits and pieces of their overlapping stories, Morgenstern chooses to do so in a disjointed time-frame that is often confusing. Her narrative jumps forwards and backwards, but there is really very little reason for her to employ this technique, as the general flow of the story is very linear.

My absolutely favorite thing about this book was the imaginative scenery and the circus as a whole. The smells, sights, and sounds of it were so beautifully explained, that I could almost smell caramel apple as I sat reading it. The many different tents that were a part of the circus were so creative and wonderful that I found myself longing to be a part of that world. The ice garden, in particular, was so beautifully explained. I loved that this book made me imagine the circus so vividly. While the descriptions help, it left just enough out that I am sure my version of the ice garden is different from that of anyone else.

I would recommend this book to other readers who love a fairy-tale like story but are not looking for too much emotional involvement or character substance. I have heard that the rights to the movie version of “The Night Circus” have already been bought and I think that is fantastic! The book is so visual, that I just hope that the studio who will be responsible can do it justice.

Mid-September Book Haul

I’ve been buying random books here and there after my last Borders run (which I, of course, forgot to include in this kind of post), but I really am trying hard to stop – it’s just difficult. I’ve also won 5 books in the past week or so. That justifies my habits. At least they’re winnings and NOT books I bought. 😉

Here are the random titles I have obtained in the past two weeks:

These four I WON, thanks to the wonderful ladies over at Smexy Books.

Random Amazon Bargain Buys

More cheap Amazon buys PLUS “Night Circus,” which I pre-ordered.

And last but not least, I won the following book from Shelf Awareness, YAY!!!

How terribly exciting!! I believe it also may be signed, but I don’t know for sure. Has anyone read any of them? Any tips or reviews?? 😀

Lastly, I must explain the lack of updates. I was really sick last week and barely even on the computer. I am back! But…still kinda slacking on the reading. I did start “The Night Circus,” but I’m not as into it as I thought I would be…and I’m on page 144. Not that it’s bad, but it’s definitely not the page turner I anticipated it to be. I’ll have a review up once I’m finished, for sure, but I can’t guarantee when that will be.

Giveaway @ Parajunkee’s Tumblr

Want to win your very own copy of Alyson Noël’s “Dreamland”?
Check out Parajunkee’s Tumblr, where you can enter to win!!

About “Dreamland”:
“Riley’s finding that the afterlife can be a lonely place when all you do is focus on work. So she goes to the place where dreams happen, hoping to find a way to contact her sister, Ever. She meets the director, who tells her about the two ways to send dreams. As a Dream Jumper, a person can jump into a dreamer’s dream, share a message, and participate. As a Dreamweaver, an entire dream can be created in a studio and sent to the dreamer. But Dreamweaving was outlawed decades ago, and the studio was boarded up. Thinking it’s her only way to reach out to her sister, Riley goes in search of the old studio. There she finds a ghost boy, who’s been creating and sending nightmares to people for years. In order to stop him and reach out to Ever, Riley is going to have to confront and overcome her own fears.”

Alyson Noël continues the bestselling story of Riley Bloom as she learns how dreams are made and tries to make contact with her sister, Ever.

Links:

Macmillan page for Alyson Noël:
http://us.macmillan.com/author/alysonnoel
Become a Facebook fan: http://www.facebook.com/OfficialAlysonNoel
Website: http://www.alysonnoel.com/

Minor Rant

I’m totally hating UPS right now. I pre-ordered “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, because I was so giddy-ly excited for it. Turns out UPS claims they tried to deliver it and no one was home. Nuh uh! I was home and there was no notice left on my door!

I had planned on it being my read but since it’s not here…but will be tomorrow…I’m going to read the shortest book in my TBR pile, which is “Address Unknown” by Katherine Kressmann Taylor. I just really hope it’s enough and that I get my book tomorrow.

::fingers crossed::

Review: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Title:Ship Breaker
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre:  YA, Dystopian
Rating: 5/5

Why I picked it: It was on sale for like $4 at Borders and I was really interested in Bacigalupi’s other book “The Wind-Up Girl.”

Synopsis: Set initially in a future shanty town in America’s Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being dissembled for parts by a rag tag group of workers, we meet Nailer, a teenage boy working the light crew, searching for copper wiring to make quota and live another day. The harsh realities of this life, from his abusive father, to his hand to mouth existence, echo the worst poverty in the present day third world. When an accident leads Nailer to discover an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, and the lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl, Nailer finds himself at a crossroads. Should he strip the ship and live a life of relative wealth, or rescue the girl, Nita, at great risk to himself and hope she’ll lead him to a better life. This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss. Yet amidst the shadows of degradation, hope lies ahead.

Review:  What an amazing book! I literally could not put it down and finished it in a little over a day.

“Ship Breaker” centers on a young boy, Nailer, who works in a bleak, gray world salvaging the more precious metals on old ships that have long since been out of commission. He belongs to a “crew” and knows very little of life outside of his physical, dangerous job or his abusive drug-addicted father. Nailer is basically the picture-perfect definition of an underdog. Everything has the potential to change when he comes upon a wrecked ship that is loaded with treasures and riches…if not for the fact that the ship has a lone survivor: a beautiful, rich girl who has a story of her own.

The book takes the reader on a whirl-wind adventure through a dark world where New Orleans, and other Gulf cities, are completely underwater, oil and chemical sludge cover the oceans, and the divide between rich and poor is great. Thanks to Bacigalupi’s extremely vivid descriptions and rich – almost poetic – writing, it is a world that seems eerily possible.

While many consider this novel grittier than other dystopian books, I feel that the “grit” is exactly why it works. It is the type of book that stays with you, long after you’ve closed its pages. For all the reasons outlined above, the book gets a 5-star rating for me.