Tag Archives: 3-star

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.

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Review: Shift by Rachel Vincent (Shifters #5)

Title: Shift
Author: Rachel Vincent
Publisher: Mira Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating:3/5

Why I picked it: Book #5 in the Shifters series, which I am really enjoying.

Synopsis (from back of book): Being the first female werecat enforcer isn’t easy. Scars accumulate, but I’m stronger in so many ways.

As for my personal life? It’s complicated. Choices worth making always are. Ever since my brother’s death and my father’s impeachment, it’s all I can do to prevent more blood from spilling. Now our Pride is under attack by a flight of vicious thunderbirds. And making peace with our new enemies may be the only way to get the best of our old foe.

With the body count rising and treachery everywhere, my instincts tell me to look before I leap. But sometimes a leap of faith is the only real option….

Review: Where do I begin? This is a really tough review for me to write because my feelings on this book were so mixed that I’m having a hard time sorting them out. Please bear in mind that this review may contain spoilers for previous books in the series.

The start of this fifth installment of the Shifters series introduces the reader to a new breed of shifter – thunderbirds. Hands down, my favorite part of this book was being immersed into the world of the birds, and I am truly in awe of how…realized their race was, down to legal systems and homes. The thunderbirds are honor-bound creatures that kidnap Kaci at the start of the book. As we continue on, it seems that Calvin Malone is back to his old bastardly tricks yet again. Although Malone does not feature prominently in this installment, you definitely get even more of a taste of just how vicious he really is. This is a reason why I really do not get how Blackwell is only now starting to realize how much of a douche Malone is, and perhaps do something about it.

Thunderbirds aside, my other favorite part of this book was Kaci. You really start to see her growth as she depends on and trusts Faythe in situations where any 12-13 year old would be scared – let alone one who has the history of trauma that Kaci does. It was really nice to see Faythe in a role with a more motherly and nurturing feel – as opposed to being her usual selfish self.

But speaking of Faythe…yeah I still can’t deal. The fact that she goes through this book downright lying (via omission) to Marc about her and Jace makes my eye twitch. She is still playing with emotions and being totally selfish with her relationships. Marc comes off as both emotionally unstable as well as insanely jealous and possessive. How are we to think that Faythe is making the right choice in not telling him what happened with Jace, when every sign points to him needing to know such information ASAP? Please, if I was Faythe I would NEED to let him know because I would be downright terrified of what would happen if he found out from another source.

One last bright spot in this book for me was Jace. Vincent really develops him from a fun-loving, jokey guy to a determined and tough man. The Jace of Book 1 is a far cry from the man he has become further on in the series, and I really think it’s because he has nothing left to lose. One minor point: Jace’s mother. Really? How pathetic and weak can one be?? She kind of horrifies me as a character based on what she’s willing to put up with without protest. She’s a tabby! By our understanding of werecat society, we are to think she’d have much more options!!

Overall, I am glad I read this book and I do feel that the series is really well developed and thought-out, but I cannot help but be disappointed in the choices the main characters seem to make, as well as how – for the most part – they do not grow. I am going to finish off the series with my next book, “Alpha” – and I have been told that the last book makes the whole series worth it so I’m excited to start.

Review: Prey by Rachel Vincent (Shifters #4)

Title: Prey
Author: Rachel Vincent
Publisher: Mira Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Rating:3/5

Why I picked it: Book #4 in the Shifters series, which I am really, really starting to enjoy.

Synposis (from back of book):  SOMETIMES PLAYING CAT AND MOUSE IS NO GAME…

Play? Right. My Pride is under fire from all sides, my father’s authority is in question, and my lover is in exile. Which means I haven’t laid eyes on Marc’s gorgeous face in months. And with a new mother and an I-know-everything teenager under my protection, I don’t exactly have time to fantasize about ever seeing him again.

Then our long-awaited reunion is ruined by a vicious ambush by strays. Now our group is under attack, Marc is missing, and I will need every bit of skill and smarts to keep my family from being torn apart. Forever.

Review: I know I am not going to voice the popular opinion and give this book a lot of high praise. Frankly, “Prey” disappointed me and I found it to be my 2nd least favorite in the series. Parts of it dragged, and I feel that the author actually made Faythe take a step backwards in terms of character development.

First of all, I have to mentioned that I loved LOVED the last book so I picked this one up with a voracious appetite to keep the story going. From the get-go, the book took a lot longer to capture my full attention, even during the “high action” scenes that have held me completely spellbound in previous books. Maybe it’s because the main conflict in this book is more of a political nature, or maybe it’s because side-characters, who I really didn’t care about, play a large role in this installment. Most of all though…there was the problem of Faythe.

It took me a while to get on the Faythe bandwagon and it was only during the previous book that I really started to enjoy her as a character. This book kind of negates a lot of that. She’s back to acting on impulse and never stopping to look at the consequences of her actions. The Faythe-Marc-Jace triangle reaches a new tipping point and it really makes me wonder what these guys see in her. I don’t respect Faythe for playing with emotions. I also don’t respect Faythe for being reckless with people’s hearts. She needs to make up her goddamned mind once and for all and stick to her decision. This triangle is almost as frustrating for me as the triangle of Sookie-Bill-Eric in Charlaine Harris’ “Sookie Stackhouse” series. Ugh.

The book was not an utter failure, though, and Vincent definitely does not disappoint in one major aspect – leaving you wanting more. Each book leaves you with so many cliffhangers or unresolved issues that you can’t help but crave the next installment of the series to answer those burning questions. Unfortunately, in “Prey,” I found myself guessing those “surprises” much more easily than the prior books.

Overall, this book was enjoyable enough but I’m glad I’m finished with it so that I can move onto the next one in the series.