The Strange Case of the Rejected Lady & the Half-Blood Myth – #IMWAYR

itsmondaywhatareyoureading

It’s Monday, What are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by The Book Date.  It’s a great way to catch up on all the literary ins-and-outs of the previous week, and see what everyone is up to.  Check out this week’s linkup!


It’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these!  My entry “Confessions” pretty much sums up my absence this time…. I do apologize, for anyone reading, mais voila!  Here I am again!

thenightcircusaudiobookI’ve actually had a very productive week as I’ve delved back into my audiobooks and finished an ARC I won back in January (*guilt*).  The highlight of my week was definitely finishing up The Night Circus.  I just felt like it was this beautiful, magical book  I posted a review of that one Friday afternoon, you can check it out here.  If I start talking about it again I’m going to get all gushy and attached!  My husband is listening to the audiobook now; I’m so excited to chat about it with him.

The other finished book, aforementioned ARC, is Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik.  I actually have a lot of scattered thoughts on this one, but I’ve got to write a review of it later this afternoon, so we’ll discuss it in greater depth then.  In short, I’d say it was really interesting, but I found it hard to follow.  But more to come!

So replacing those two books as my go-to physical book & audiobook are The Lady of the Rivers by Phillipa Gregory and The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Jeckyll & Hyde is a short listen – only about 3 hours, so that’ll be finished most likely tomorrow.  While I haven’t cracked open The Lady of the Rivers yet, Jeckyll & Hyde I’ve listened mostly through.  I do like classics, but this one is not going on my list of Classics to Read Before You Die.

My husband and I are now co-listening to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling.  We’re getting close to finishing out the series, now – I’m going to have to find something new!  I really want to get him to listen through Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, so maybe that one!  Goodness know I could listen to it over and over….

Rejected Princesses: Tales of History's Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics by Jason Porath

Finally I have my “forever” books – the ones it seems like I will never finish!  Rejected Princesses by Jason Porath – a series of short illustrated essays about the strong women in history who often get overlooked – has been relocated to the bookshelf, so really it’s on a bit of hiatus for now.  I can not emphasize enough that this is nothing to do with the book!  It’s awesome, I just have trouble getting through short stories so I pick them off a bit at a time.  Right now, I’m more focused on writing than reading, so this one has fallen to the way-side.  My “forever” audiobook is, of course, The Great Courses series of lectures of Myth in Human History, taught by Grant L. Voth.  This one, I’m actually getting close to finishing!  I only have about six lectures left.  Right now, we’re working through the trickster gods (think Loki).  Like Rejected Princesses, I actually find this series incredibly interesting, but due to its formatting, I just can’t swallow a lot of it at a time, and sometimes I am not in the mood at all, so it has taken a while.  I think I should have this one finished before October.

I’ve been writing through Camp NaNoWriMo this July as well… nothing fancy and nothing new.  I’ve acutally been using it to try and muddle through revisions on a story I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2012, so I’m doing a chapter a day and will continue to do so past July – it just seemed a good time to start and get in on the fun!  I will probably do a writing update later this week.

That’s all I’ve got for this week – keep your eyes peeled for the Pistols & Petticoats review!

Cheers!

Audiobook Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

audiobookreview

thenightcircusaudiobook

The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

Narrated by Jim Dale

❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎

Series: Standalone
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Fiction, Historical
Published By: Doubleday in 2011 (First Hardcover Edition)
Format: Digital Audiobook (13 hours, 39 minutes)

Goodreads / LibraryThing

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.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

Review

This book has been on my TBR since November 2011, two months after it released.  I am kicking myself SO HARD because it took me six years to get around to it.  It is magical, breathtaking, intriguing.  It is hands-down the most beautiful romance I’ve ever read.  This could be a very long review as I extol endless praises upon this story.  Ye have been warned.

Characters

❤︎

Celia.  Marco.  Horace.  Alexander.  Bailey.  Poppet.  Widget.  Isobel.  Tara.  Lainie. Chandresh.  Friedrick.  Ethan.  Tante Padva.  Tsukiko.  Everyone.  Everyone, everyone, everyone.  Every single character in this book is bright, textured, and mysterious.  They are all glowing.  Every minute detail stands out.  The subtle hand movements, the shadows, the clothing, the way they hold themselves, the glimmer or dullness in their eyes.  Everything about each and every character in this book is intriguing.  Even the minor ones you only see for a chapter or two, like Elizabeth the Rêveur or Bailey’s sister Caroline.

My favorite character in this book was Bailey.  I know he doesn’t have the pizzazz of Celia or Marco, but there was a je ne sais quoi that made him the biggest mystery of them all.  He felt like a standing stone around which the entire circus revolved.  Chandresh’s flair was excellent.  Celia’s imagination, Marco’s precision… all excellent.  Tsukiko’s mystery.  In my opinion, though, it’s Bailey’s childlike enthusiasm, wide-eyed innocence, and normality in contrast that brings everything else to life.  I love him.

Poppet and Widget are also excellent.  And I love how the crux of the story depends on Isobel.  Just… all of them.  I love them all.

World

❤︎

The world is magical.  Never once does the Victorian setting make this story feel inaccessible.  The world itself is the circus, and even though there are excursions into tea shoppes and estates and farms, the black and white tents of the circus call the reader back again and again.  The magic is subtle and beautiful, nothing too big and flashy.  The rules are well explained through the students’ training.  From Celia’s seance sessions to the stuffy apartment where Marco studies, everything is distinct and well-visualized.  Even Tsukiko’s brief history at the end of the book shows a world where time is fluid and moments are eternal, places alive.  The balance is perfect.

Story

❤︎

I think the story is the aspect where most people will criticize.  Morgenstern takes the reader’s through a loop, misdirecting interest into the challenge when the story is so much bigger than that.  Personally, I don’t mind the outcome of the challenge, and I have even more respect for the story knowing that it is bigger than just two people.  Like I said above, I think this is ultimately the greatest love story I’ve ever read.  It’s not an adventure, not a coming-of-age story.  It’s not a battle of good and evil.  It is all of these things rolled up into something greater and should not be taken solely as any one of its parts.

Writing / Narration

❤︎

The pacing is, admittedly, slow.  At the beginning, this is frustrating, but as the story gets its tendrils around you and you are sucked in, the pacing is perfect.  In fact, near the end I found myself frustrated that it was going so quickly and was I nearly finished.  The words, though.  Erin Morgenstern knows how to weave magic with her wording.  It flows so beautifully that I would read anything she writes.  Anything.  Her grocery list.  You can tell that every word she has chosen in this story has been carefully mulled over and considered, and the effect is that her words are as magical as the circus.

Morgenstern uses every sense masterfully.  Scent and sound and taste, as well as sight and touch.  I feel like scent and taste are so rarely used in fiction… and she leaves no sense unattended.

In regards to narration, Jim Dale does a masterful job, as always.  You can hear the pompousness of Horace Bowen and the stubbornness of the Murray twins.  He has done an exemplary job, as always.

Personal Thoughts

❤︎

This book has done something few new books I read have managed:  it jumped into my top ten.  Granted, my top ten isn’t illustrious, but it’s a hard place to get into.  I was so transported by this book, I feel genuinely cheated that Le Cirque Des Rêves is fiction.  I go between moments of wanting express eternally my endless affection for this illustrious piece of work, and moments when I gape stupidly at a loss for words.  It’s beautiful.  I love it.  I don’t know what else to say.

TL;DR

This book is beautifully written and magical.  Read it now.


Source

After years and years of this being on the TBR, I finally got this book on a two-for-one deal on Audible.  I am so glad I did, because who knows how long it would have been before I read it hardcopy?  This is a to-buy for sure.


First Sentence

“The circus arrives without warning.”


Some of My Favorite Quotes

“Have you tried the cinnamon things?” Poppet asks. “They’re rather new. What are they called, Widge?”

“Fantastically delicious cinnamon things?”

“Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that… there are many kinds of magic, after all.”

“We lead strange lives, chasing our dreams around from place to place.”

“The most difficult thing to read is time. Maybe because it changes so many things.”

“Everything I have done, every change I have made to that circus, every impossible feat and astounding sight, I have done for her.”


Available At

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound / Audible