Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (no spoilers)

Book: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publication: September 13th, 2011
Source: Local Library
Read: August 28th-September 3rd
Summary (from Goodreads):
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 RĂªves, 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.
My Thoughts:
The Night Circus is a book that has literally been on my tbr list forever and I would have continued to put off The Night Circus if Booksplosion didn't choose it for their August book of the month. Another cool fact is that this is Erin Morgenstern first and only novel and she wrote the first draft of this novel during nanowriomo. Before I start my review I do have to admit I had my doubts about this book. I debated put it down about 50 pages in. I will let you know in advance I'm glad I didn't. 

I have to talk about the writing first. This book had beautiful writing. I also believe this book offer so much more depth than any book I have read in a while. The important part of The Night Circus is that it is not so much about the characters, but the world and the ambiance of the Circus. I fell in love with the atmosphere of the circus although it could be quite dark at times. 

I  did have a few problems with this book such as the lack of plot lines, and the challenge being poorly explained. I was frustrated at times because I didn't understand what the challenge entailed and how Celia and Marco were ever supposed to escape it. I did find the book to be slow at the beginning, which is why it took a while to get into for me. I was okay with the level of romance in this novel, but I would have been okay with more also.

My favorite characters in this book were Poppet, Widget, Bailey, and Celia. I really enjoyed learning more about their lives as I learned more about the circus. The magic of this novel was beautiful as is the writing and that reason inside its own makes it. This book is like no other book I have read before and although I don't think it would be for everybody I enjoyed it. I'm glad I finally read this book. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (no spoilers)

Book: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication: September 10th, 2013
Source: Local Library
Read: August 17th-27th, 2014
Summary (from Goodreads):
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

 Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

 But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

 Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

 Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. 

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

 For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

 Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

 And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
My Thoughts: 
It seems to be the books that resonant with me the most that I have the hardest time writing a review on. I think that is why I have put off my review of Fangirl for quite a while after I finished reading it. I loved this book. This so far is my favorite Rainbow Rowell book I have read and I have read 3 this year. The reason I think I loved this book so much is how much I could relate to this book. So let's talk Fangirl. 

It is Cath and Wren's first year of college. I defiantly relate to Cath a lot more in her feelings about college. I remember last year being a freshman and being scared to live with a roommate, find friends, succeed in my classes, being away from home, and even eating in the dining hall.When I started college I had already had a full month on campus, but I still related to a lot of the same frustrations and fears Cath went through as a college freshman. I think Rainbow Rowell's description of the first year of college was accurate. It isn't easy to move on to this step of life, but now coming back as a college sophomore it is a lot easier and a lot more fun to be in college. 

Another huge part of this book is Cath's fangirling with Simon Snow. Rainbow Rowell made up this series and this whole world that is a fandom in Cath's life. I think this story added a lot to the story because it gave Cath something to do as a character and a reason for the way she is. 

I guess my favorite character in this novel is Levi. I have to admit that I was slightly jealous that Cath was able to find a guy like Levi in her first year of college. This is a fictional novel and I live real life and the right person will come along eventually. I think Levi was very laid back, but it could be sweet if he wanted to be. I guess I just liked his personality and think that he balances out Cath well. 

Then there is Cath's roommate Reagan and her twin sister Wren. Both of these characters grew on me slowly. I think Reagan's sarcastic attitude would get tiresome in real life, but int his book it worked. At first I wanted to know a lot more about Wren and after awhile she reminded me of people I don't care for. Eventually Wren grew on me and I ended up really liking her and the way she supported Cath. 

I was a bit disappointed by the ending of this novel. With the mounting anticipation before the final page I guess I just expected more. I didn't expect it to end on the note it did. It leaves me to make up my own ending for Cath, Levi, Reagan, and Wren. I fell in love with these characters and it was hard to leave them behind at the end. This was a great novel. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Goodbye Summer Read-A-Thon Wrap Up

Hosted by Bookmarklit

The Goodbye Summer Read-A-Thon has come to an end and I'm a few days late as far as wrapping it up. I do not have any stats for you as I haven't had time to tally my results, but I have it all tracked. I just have to sit and decode. I hope to get my progress post up this weekend. I'm just here to wrap up the books I read. I finished two books and started a third book. That is pretty amazing progress for me. 

Books Finished:

Both books I finished are by Kasie West meaning that I have finished all of her novels. I loved both The Distance Between Us and On the Fence. I can't wait to read more by this author. 
Books Started:
My copy of Lola has the other cover, but this one is just so pretty. Then I dove into another contemporary with Loa and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. So far I'm enjoying it, but not quite as much as Anna and the French Kiss. 

Book Review: Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth (no spoilers)

Book: Four: A Divergent Collection
Author: Veronica Roth
Publication: July 8th, 2014
Source: Local Library
Read: July 29th-August 1st, 2014
Summary (from Goodreads):
Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

 Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

 Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

 From #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth comes a companion volume to the worldwide bestselling divergent series, told from the perspective of the immensely popular character Tobias. The four pieces included here—The Transfer, The Initiate, The Son, and The Traitor—plus three additional exclusive scenes, give readers an electrifying glimpse into the history and heart of Tobias, and set the stage for the epic saga of the Divergent trilogy
My Thoughts:

I do have to admit that Four is an incredibly difficult novel to write a non-spoiler review on. That is probably why I have put off writing this review for so long. I'm going to split the review up to talk about each individual novella since this book was in essence four different stories. 

The Transfer
This is the first story of the Divergent Collection. This story unveils more about Four's past, his fears, and his childhood. It was raw and emotional. I could feel my heart beating as Tobias jumped on the train, jumped off the train, and went through his fear landscape.  It also relays the known, but interesting story of how Tobias Eaton becomes Four. This novella was beautifully written and full of action. I enjoyed seeing bits and pieces of the initiation Tris goes through also.

The Initiate
The Initiate was probably my favorite story of the collection as Four went through the initiation process. I enjoyed the action and adventure of this story. I enjoyed seeing that Four is vulnerable. He isn't as tough as the front he puts on. I loved Four's interaction with his fellow initiates and his rise to being a well-known transfer within Dauntless. 

The Son
The Initiate was followed by my least favorite story, The Son. This story shared the background between Four and Evelyn. It was interesting to learn about Evelyn and see many emotions that Four had kept hidden. I still found this story be interesting, exciting, and important to the book, it just wasn't my favorite. 

The Traitor
This story was the one I wanted to savor. If you don't know the ending of Allegiant, the emotions I felt reading this story would be hard to understand. Having Tris be in this story meant everything to me. This story is the one I held the most special and savored the most. The emotions I felt reading this story were real. 

Overall I loved Four. I thought Four was a great addition to the Divergent series and I can see myself rereading Four in the future. If you are a fan of the Divergent series I highly recommend reading Four. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Review: Ash by Malinda Lo (no spoilers)

Book: Ash
Author: Malinda Lo
Source: Local Library
Read: July 22nd-29th, 2014
Summary (from Goodreads):
Cinderella retold

 In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

 The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

 Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief

My Thoughts:
When this book appeared as my July random read I literally couldn't remember why I had added this book to my to read list, or what the book is about. This was truly a random read and I was willing to give the book a chance and move it to my read shelf. 

Ash is a magical retelling of Cinderella. In the wake of her mother's death, Ash is left grieving along with her father. Ash's father marries a cruel stepmother, but shortly after dies. Ash and her stepsister move back to the Stepmother's homeland. There Ash becomes her stepmother's house servant to repay her father's debt. 

Ash's imagination has not left her. Her mother used to read her stories about fairies and Ash finds comfort in rereading those fairy tales by the dying fire. This is where the magic begins. Ash explores the forest at night and when her stepmother and stepsister are gone. This is how she meets Sidhean and Kaisa. 

Of course this wasn't the typical Cinderella story. It had many twists and turns. The relationship between Kaisa and Ash was interesting and the development of the characters continued to grow. I loved how this wasn't just a Cinderella story, but wove fairies into the mix. This book was magical although at times the book was slow. Towards the end I did predict the ending, but there were many twists and turns so I could never be sure if I was right. I did ended up predicting the right ending. 

Another thing you probably noticed about this Cinderella story is that I never mentioned a prince. There was a prince in this story, but he was less than important to Ash's story. In fact the ball had little to do with this Cinderella story. Read this novel for yourself I promise you this isn't your typical Cinderella story. 

Ash was my July random read. Ash was a unique retelling of Cinderella interwoven with fairies and magic. This book was beautifully written and a great fairy tale read. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley (no spoilers)

Book: Don't Call Me Baby
Author: Gwendolyn Heasley
Publication: April 22nd, 2014
Source: Publisher for Review
Read: August 13th-16th,2014
Summary (from Goodreads):
All her life, Imogene has been known as the girl on THAT blog.

Imogene's mother has been writing an incredibly embarrassing, and incredibly popular, blog about her since before she was born. Hundreds of thousands of perfect strangers knew when Imogene had her first period. Imogene's crush saw her "before and after" orthodontia photos. But Imogene is fifteen now, and her mother is still blogging about her, in gruesome detail, against her will.

 When a mandatory school project compels Imogene to start her own blog, Imogene is reluctant to expose even more of her life online...until she realizes that the project is the opportunity she's been waiting for to tell the truth about her life under the virtual microscope and to define herself for the first time.

 Don't Call Me Baby is a sharply observed and irrepressibly charming story about mothers and daughters, best friends and first crushes, and the surface-level identities we show the world online and the truth you can see only in real life.
*I received Don't Call Me Baby free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation and all thoughts and feelings are my own.*

My Thoughts:
Don't Call Me Baby is a very, light fun read. It is about Imogene, who has been the girl on the blog her whole life. She is more popularly referred to as Babylicious  on her mom's blog where her mom calls herself Mommylicious. Now Imogene is 15 and she is ready to stop having every detail about her life on the internet. The problem is getting through to her mom, but when Imogene and her friend Sage discover that they can use their school project blogs to get through to their mothers.

As I mentioned before this is a very light read and quick read. I found myself connected to the characters easily and I understood their situation. I compared their mother's blogs to the mommy vloggers I watch on Youtube. Their children are young now so they don't care that they are on Youtube, but is there going to become a point where the child is ready to stop, but the mother isn't. I think that is the case in Don't Call Me Baby. Meg (Imogene's mom) is trying to hold on to her little girl. She wants to keep her close and she wants everything to remain the same. The thing is Imogene is growing up.

I enjoyed the blog posts included in this book. It gave us as readers a look into what Imogene was going through, and also what Imogene and Sage were sharing on the internet. The actions of Imogene and Sage's mother were something I didn't like about this book. I think they refused to listen to their children and did not respect their children's want for privacy. They acted controlling and authoritative, which often with teenagers cause them to rebel more rather than obey.

Overall I enjoyed Don't Call Me Baby. It was a great look into another side of blogging we rarely think about as book bloggers. I don't blog about people and I rarely blog about myself even so there isn't too much to worry about as in those reasons to shut down my blog. It was an interesting read on a unique topic and has got me interested in reading another book by this author.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Coyer Wrap Up

I read 13 books for Coyer Summer Vacation. I reread my original post and I set the goal to read 15 books so I was slightly under that goal, but proud of my progress. I'm going to count this challenge as a success. 

The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston
Mr. Pnemubra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The Rules for Breaking by Ashley Elston
Pride Over Pity by Kailyn Lowry 
Rumpelstiltskin by Jenni James
Popular by Maya Van Wagenen
The Real Boy by Anne Ursu
Little City by the Lake by Celia Wilkins
Ash by Malinda Lo
Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

So I don't have reviews for quite a few of these, but will eventually. I have the reviews sitting as drafts right now. I just need to write a review for Fangirl and The Night Circus. 

This was such a fun challenge and I would love to participate again next year. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer Challenge Wrap Up

Hosted by Katie's Book Blog 
Hosted by The Book Monsters'

Today I'm wrapping up three summer challenges I participated in. I would love to participate in all of these next year. I had a lot of fun. For the Summer Reads and the Summer Library Challenge I did not have  a specific goal I just wanted to read as many books as possible. For the Summer Library Program I set my goal at 25 books and completed that goal on August 1st, 2014 when I finished Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth. 

This is the graphic I made to keep track of my Summer Library Program reading progress. As you can see it has filled up. Now on to the books read. 

For the Summer Library Program all the books count so I read 27 books.
For the Summer Reads Challenge only YA books count, which is a majority of what I read so I read 22 books for that challenge.
For the Summer Library Challenge which ran from June 1st to July 31st, only library books count. My first book counted for the challenge was Deception's Princess by Esther B. Friesner and my last book counted for the challenge was Ash by Malinda Lo. All the books in between are library books, so they all count. I read 14 books for the Summer Library Challenge. 

I consider all these summer challenges as a success. I'm sad summer has now come to an end. I'm knee deep in coursework and we only just finished our first week. It has been a successful summer of reading and I plan to continue reading a lot this fall semester although I know the pace will drop.