The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


TheNightCircus.jpgYou notice it first when exploring the countless shelves at your local bookstore. A simple black and white cover with a splash of red on the front. The Night Circus. The title is intriguing and you buy it on a whim. As you are settling into bed that night you grab this book to read just one chapter and find yourself still awake at three am because the circus kept you up.

From the first sentence this book draws the reader into a world where black and white are not black and white. Where every turn of the circus leads to more questions and every tent holds a different answer. The reader starts out as simply a spectator of the circus, then grow into a reverie and then you find yourself becoming a part of the circus.

If you have ever found yourself lying awake at night wondering how circuses simply appear and disappear without warning then you will find yourself reaching for a copy of the Night Circus. It’s not only the story of the circus but those who live and breathe the circus life. What’s a circus without a little magic and what is a little magic without wonder and amazement.

Lyrical, musical, mystical and complete in it’s story. The Night Circus is a tale for all ages and a breathe of fresh air for those who are missing the magic in their lives. A world where anything is possible and yet everything is impossible. A tale of a place and people that you miss when you are done and long to see long after the story has ended.


The Lost World by Michael Crichton



I bought a double copy of Jurassic Park and The Lost World for Christmas and just now finally read The Lost World. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I was in for a treat because I loved Jurassic Park and man eating dinosaurs. I must say the intensity of Lost World was not as high as Jurassic Park but the concept behind both books and the explanation of the science was as always incredible. I must say being a Christian I don’t agree with most of the theories presented in this book but the idea of an extinct animal coming back and not really knowing how to function in a world that has changed so dramatically since the animal was alive is something I agree with. I think if the dinosaurs were brought back to life somehow we would not know how to handle them and could have another potential Jurassic Park disaster on our hands.

One interesting thing I noticed was one of the dinosaurs in Lost World is eerily similar to a dinosaur on Jurassic World, the movie. It’s a nice tie in for me because Jurassic World really isn’t based on the books-it’s just a continuation of a really good concept. This helped connect the book for me to the latest movie.

That being said I really liked the concept behind this book but in my personal opinion the action was lacking a little and that may be because there were fewer characters to get eaten by dinosaurs.

This story is a rescue mission for a certain Dr. Levine who thinks he has discovered a “Lost World”- a place where the dinosaurs weren’t wiped out and have continued to flourish. Unfortunately what he has discovered is Site B of the InGen project. Site B is where the dinosaurs were genetically created and hatched. They were then sent to the main island Site A where the park was. Dr. Levine decides to go to the island all by himself and has to be rescued by Dr. Ian Malcolm, Sarah Harding (Ian’s somewhat girlfriend), two middle school students of Dr. Levine and two engineers who designed the equipment that Levine was going to use to study the dinosaurs. As usual everything goes wrong, people get eaten and the main characters manage to escape alive.

These books are more than just about dinosaurs but more about a theory-what would happen if dinosaurs were brought back. It is interestingly explored through these stories and of course it ends in disaster because these are creatures who lived a long time ago and went extinct for a reason. Why should we bring them back?

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutoski

I am so glad to be back posting on my blog! It has been a crazy summer so far with working at camp and my brother getting married I have had no time do anything outside out of those two things. I have had fortunately time to read thanks to breaks and long car rides.


The Winner’s Kiss


First of all this was a great ending to an even greater YA fantasy series. YA Fantasy is my favorite genre and I was so excited to have found this series. However the pace of this book was much different than I thought it was going to be and the ending while what I wanted it to be did not happen the way I saw it happening. I thought the majority of the book would be spent on Kestrel in the prison camp but she is rescued pretty early on in the book and then the rest of the book is about the actual war between the Empire and the Herran/Dacran alliance. That being said I am so glad that is the way the book was paced because it made for a real book gripper and many nights where I stayed up way to late because I had to know what happened to Kestrel and Arin. There were many times I growled in frustration because the two of them were fighting again and I just wanted them to kiss already!

This book and series will frustrate you beyond belief but don’t give up on them because it is such a good series that not only has a love story but action, suspense, and teaches one what it truly means to pick a side. It gives a person an insight what it was like for the north and south during the civil war (in the United States) and also any other war that pits family against family. Kestrel not only stood up for the one she loved but she also stood up for her personal convictions and that is something very hard to do when everyone you love and care for is against you. Standing up to one’s family and friends is hard and Rutoksi creates this amazing fierce warrior woman who finds the strength to do such a thing. Kestrel is a warrior but she is also a human being and Rutoksi does a beautiful job of blending both.

I really cannot find fault with this book or the series as a whole. It’s nice sometimes to read fantasy books like LOTR and have the back story but it is also nice to read just about one part of that story and not have to worry about how the history affects the present. This is one series that will pull you in and keep you reading until the very last page of the last book.


I also listened to two great books on tape-both by Jerry Spinelli who is a wonderful middle school author.

Maniac McGee by Jerry Spinelli


So I cheated this summer and listened to two different books while traveling. I re-listened to part of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins but since I have already read it and didn’t listen to it all the way through I don’t count it. Maniac McGee was the first book I listened to and it was so good!! It is a most definite read aloud in any grade because it touches upon a subject that should be discussed in every classroom in America: Racism. This book shows us through the eyes of a skinny little white boy what racism looks like and how it can be overcome. Maniac McGee is a little skinny white boy from Bridgeport that ends up living in a zoo until one day he comes home with Amanda Beal a little black girl. No one on the East side cares that a little white boy is living with Beal family, until it becomes Maniac is made aware of his color blindness as Harper Lee put it. Scout Finch and Maniac McGee share an inability to see the difference in skin color. To them people are people no matter the color of skin.

One of the best teaching moments of this book comes when a friend of Maniac’s is asking about black people and wanting to know if they are different than white people. Maniac confusedly answers the man’s questions in only the way a child can and clearly points out that the only difference between black and white is the color of their skin.

This is one book that will make you laugh, cry and shout in triumph as Maniac unties the impossible knot, uses a frog as a baseball and finally finds a place to call home.


Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli


This is one book that I was introduced to in seventh grade, but the group that presented the book to me did a terrible job so I was never much interested in the book until my mum had me listen to it.

I felt like Star Girl sometimes in high school. I was different and I liked embracing that difference but in a school that was conformist it was hard. I struggled to find my place just like Star Girl did and while I didn’t cheer for the other team I was just another faceless student to many of my classmates.

This is the story of Star Girl or Susan, the name on her birth certificate. She comes into Micah Area High School as a tenth grader and struggles to find her place in a school that demands conformity. Star Girl doesn’t wish to conform and instead forges a place for herself only to end up being shunned when her ways are no longer accepted. Despite these set backs Star Girl continues to be herself until she starts dating Leo. While Leo likes Star Girl he secretly wishes he had a normal girlfriend and when he gets one he thinks he is happy. This happiness is short lived because despite her repeated efforts Star Girl cannot get the shunning to stop. She has only one option left but is she willing to take it?

Star Girl is the story of every one of us. We want to be ourselves and stand out among the crowd but many times we are too scared to do so. We fear being shunned or the loosing friends/respect. Star Girl is the story of high school and what it costs to be different than everyone else. This is another great read aloud because too often the student that chooses to be different ends up like Star Girl.

Book Review of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg


I was just a kid when I first watched the movie Fried Green Tomatoes and I don’t think my dad wanted me to watch it because of the language and questionable content. I re-watched the movie a year ago and I could see why maybe a child shouldn’t watch it and it has taken probably six years to finally read the book. I only recently found and purchased a copy of the book but I knew one existed since I was a freshman in high school. I must say the book is different then the movie but I like both of them equally. However I think the book explained the history of the times better than the movie did. There was a lot more about the relations between the black people and the white people in the book than in the movie, at least from what I remember. Also the timeline of the book was all over the place. One minute you were reading about an event that happened in 1940 and then an event that happened in 1922. I think this was done because the stories were told from the memory of Ninny Threadgoode. She would remember an event tell it to Evelyn and then the next chapter would the story told in real time. Therefore the story didn’t really follow a coherent timeline unlike the movie. Personally I like timelines that are chronological but I don’t think that affected the book any.

One aspect of the book I must address is: was Idgie and Ruth lesbians? This is a hot topic for this book and personally I don’t think so. I just think Idgie and Ruth had a close friendship. It is possible even though there were moments in the book that I wondered but then again I blame it on my 21st century brain. I think Idgie and Ruth were just close.

I liked the ending of the movie because it felt more final than the book did. I hate open ended endings where you are not sure if the story is done or not. Books that are not part of a series should end with finality so the reader can close the book and move on. It honestly sucks being stuck in a books world because the author left too much for interpretation at the end. I like to be able to close a book and move on because I know the story ended. I guess that is left up to the author though or something like that. One of my English professors said something like that, the ending happens when the author chooses it whether we like it or not.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Every page was something new and exciting. Every story was just plain good and at times I felt like I would have been at home in Whistle Stop. It saddens me to think that there are towns like Whistle Stop in the United States. In fact my moms hometown is like Whistle Stop. There is still a church and they still boast a post office and a beauty shop so I think they are ok but many businesses have come and gone. The bank closed, the café closed, the Catholic church now only has one mass on Sunday nights, people have mostly gone all in my time but the history books say that they once had a movie theatre! To think a town with the population size of less than a hundred people once had a movie theatre in it’s glory days. The next biggest town over struggles to keep it’s movie theatre and they are the county seat! Times do change and it is nice to read a book like Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe to be reminded of the old times. Of what life used to be like instead of always thinking of the future.

Review of Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs


*Warning this review contains spoilers*

I knew I had to finish the series when I watched the trailer for the movie of the first book which is coming out in September. All I can say is that the direction Riggs took with the ending of the book is something I did not see coming. I wasn’t completely shocked by the ending but it wasn’t predictable, in my opinion. The book starts right off where Hollow City left off which was nice because some series books don’t do that and I find that screwing with the timeline is very irritating. Jacob, Emma, and Addison, the dog, find themselves in 21st century London being chased by Wights. They manage to escape the Wights and by doing so Jacob develops another part of his abilities, controlling Hollowgasts. It’s an interesting concept explored later in the book that peculiar’s have a wide range of abilities but they cultivate the abilities they nurture. Emma could possibly have control over all the elements but since she focused on fire that is the only ability she has now. By using the Hollowgast Jacob is able to escape the wights. Jacob, Emma and Addison finds themselves enlisting the help of Sharona fellow peculiar to guide them to Devil’s Acre where they will infiltrate the Wight’s compound with the help of Miss Peregrine’s other brother, Bentham. Shocker! Miss Peregrine has another brother. I did not see that coming and the way it affects the ending is interesting.

I really enjoyed the pacing of this book. Some books try to cram so much action into one novel it becomes too much. Riggs balanced out the action with conversation and description. I thoroughly enjoyed the pictures and how well they incorporated into the book. I honestly don’t think this series would have had the same effect without the pictures.

I must say I was really annoyed when Riggs introduced Ambro but didn’t tell the reader what it was. It was just this product that all the peculiars were addicted to and then to find out it was bits of a peculiar soul. Essentially the peculiars in Devil’s Acre were cannibals. That was probably the most disturbing thing about Devil’s Acre. I hate to think that any body could become so desperate they are willing to gain off the ultimate pain of others. Peculiars were having their souls harvested from them and their peers were fighting each other for a piece of their soul. I wonder how they would feel if the roles were reversed.

I was a little disappointed by the library of souls. It was described as this incredible interesting library but when everyone finally gets there it reminds me more of a Native American burial site. I guess the loop to the library has been closed for centuries but still it was disappointing.

The final battle between Caul and Bentham was interesting and I say interesting because I am not sure I liked it. It didn’t read like it was a forced ending or just something Riggs came up with to end the book but it read like Godzilla versus King Kong. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. However I enjoyed the rest of the novel. Jacob decides to go back home and while he is hoping everything can go back to normal it clearly cannot. There were several pages left by the time I got to that part and I just knew something more was going to happen. His parents don’t believe him and almost ship him off to a mental clinic until Miss Peregrine shows up to save the day. Apparently when they closed the time loop to the Library of Souls it reset everyone who was there, their internal time clock that is. Essentially everyone who was there for the closing of the loop is now on 21st century time so they will age normally like Jacob instead of aging forward until they are nothing but dust. I thought this was a bit cheesy but it made for a nice ending because now Jacob and Emma can be together,  which we were all rooting for :). Overall I really liked this book but I still think the ending could have been different.




Summer 2016 Reading Plan

This summer I am working at a camp and if working at camp has taught me anything it is that I have no time to read. That is why my summer reading goal is only 10 books. Even then this is a pretty lofty goal because at the end of the week all I want to do is sleep and watch Netflix because neither of these activities require much brain power or moving.

Here is a list of my summer books and a description of each curtesy of Goodreads.

  1. Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs


I already read this book but since I didn’t start reading it until after finals week I consider it part of my summer reading (I will be posting a review post later).

Goodreads Summary: 

A boy with extraordinary powers. An army of deadly monsters. An epic battle for the future of peculiardom.

The adventure that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and continued in Hollow City comes to a thrilling conclusion with Library of Souls. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children.

They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all. Like its predecessors, Library of Souls blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience.

2. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg


I loved the movie but never had the chance to read the book until now.

Goodreads summary:

It’s first the story of two women in the 1980s, of gray-headed Mrs. Threadgoode telling her life story to Evelyn, who is in the sad slump of middle age. The tale she tells is also of two women– of the irrepressibly daredevilish tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth, who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, a Southern kind of Cafe Wobegon offering good barbecue and good coffee and all kinds of love and laughter, even an occasional murder.

3. See Me by Nicholas Sparks IMG_1843.JPG

I have to read this before his next book comes out in October.

Goodreads summary: 

See me just as I see you . . .

Colin Hancock is giving his second chance his best shot. With a history of violence and bad decisions behind him and the threat of prison dogging his every step, he’s determined to walk a straight line. To Colin, that means applying himself single-mindedly toward his teaching degree and avoiding everything that proved destructive in his earlier life. Reminding himself daily of his hard-earned lessons, the last thing he is looking for is a serious relationship.

Maria Sanchez, the hardworking daughter of Mexican immigrants, is the picture of conventional success. With a degree from Duke Law School and a job at a prestigious firm in Wilmington, she is a dark-haired beauty with a seemingly flawless professional track record. And yet Maria has a traumatic history of her own, one that compelled her to return to her hometown and left her questioning so much of what she once believed.

A chance encounter on a rain-swept road will alter the course of both Colin and Maria’s lives, challenging deeply held assumptions about each other and ultimately, themselves. As love unexpectedly takes hold between them, they dare to envision what a future together could possibly look like . . . until menacing reminders of events in Maria’s past begin to surface.

As a series of threatening incidents wreaks chaos in Maria’s life, Maria and Colin will be tested in increasingly terrifying ways. Will demons from their past destroy the tenuous relationship they’ve begun to build, or will their love protect them, even in the darkest hour?

Rich in emotion and fueled with suspense, SEE ME reminds us that love is sometimes forged in the crises that threaten to shatter us . . . and that those who see us for who we truly are may not always be the ones easiest to recognize. 


4. Master of Middle Earth by Paul H. Kocher


My only non-fiction book of the summer.

Goodreads summary: 

As is the case with all great works of art, J. R. R. Tolkien’s masterpieces generously repay close attention and study. In this thoroughly entertaining and perceptive volume, winner of the prestigious Mythopoeic Society Scholarship Award, Professor Kocher examines the sources that Tolkien drew upon in fashioning Middle-earth and its inhabitants—and provides valuable insights into the author’s aims and methods. Ranging from The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings to The Silmarillion and beyond, Master of Middle-earth opens the door to a deeper and richer appreciation of Tolkien’s magnificent achievement. Inside you will discover

• Why Aragorn is the most misunderstood character in The Lord of the Rings . . . and its true hero.
• The origin of Sauron—and the nature of evil in Tolkien’s universe.
• The opposing forces of destiny and free will in Frodo’s quest.
• The Cosmology of Middle-earth—is it our world at an earlier time, or does it exist in a fantastic Elsewhere?
• How Tolkien’s ideas of morality, religion, and social order underlie every aspect of his life’s work.

Plus a fascinating look at such lesser-known works of Tolkien’s as “Leaf by Niggle,” “Smith of Wootton Major,” and many others! 


5. The Winner’s Kiss


Goodreads Summary: 

Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?


6. Hide and Seek by Wilkie CollinsIMG_1844.JPG

Goodreads Summary:

The girl named Mary — they called her Madonna, and she was deaf and dumb and beautiful as a painting by Raphael — was a mystery. The Blyths adopted her from a kindly old woman connected to a traveling circus, but everyone knew she wasn’t from circus folk. All they DID know about her identity was that she’d lost her hearing in an accident, and the proprietor of the circus had treated her horribly, and, and . . . and in her cache of secret personal private things, she owned one thing as precious to her as life itself: a bracelet made of brown human hair with the initials MG tied into it. The Blyths kept it locked in a bureau for fear that Mary’s unknown family might one day claim her. . . 

7. The Lost World by Michael CrichtonIMG_1840.JPG

Goodreads Summary:

The Lost World: Jurassic Park Junior Novelisation captures all the thrills and chills of The Lost World story – with heart-stopping suspense, hair-raising action, and illustrated with colour photographs from the film. Something has survived…In 1993, an ambitious entrepreneur named John Hammond spoke four words which ushered in a new era of motion picture excitement and set worldwide boxoffice records…”Welcome to Jurassic Park”. Now, a few years later, Hammond makes a startling confession to scientist Ian Malcolm: another island of dinosaurs exists…an island where dinosaurs have been living and breeding in the wild…the Lost World.

8. The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman


I bought this book without a pretty dust jacket.

Goodreads Summary: 

“Alice Hoffman is my favorite writer.”
–Jodi Picoult

Alice Hoffman is one of our most beloved writers. Here on Earthwas an Oprah Book Club selection. Practical Magic and Aquamarine were both bestselling books and Hollywood movies. Her novels have received mention as notable books of the year by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, and People magazine, and her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, Kenyon Review, Redbook, Architectural Digest, Gourmet, and Self.

Now, in The Third Angel, Hoffman weaves a magical and stunningly original story that charts the lives of three women in love with the wrong men: Headstrong Madeleine Heller finds herself hopelessly attracted to her sister’s fiancé. Frieda Lewis, a doctor’s daughter and a runaway, becomes the muse of an ill-fated rock star. And beautiful Bryn Evans is set to marry an Englishman while secretly obsessed with her ex-husband. At the heart of the novel is Lucy Green, who blames herself for a tragic accident she witnessed at the age of twelve, and who spends four decades searching for the Third Angel–the angel on earth who will renew her faith.

Brilliantly evoking London’s King’s Road, Knightsbridge, and Kensington while moving effortlessly back in time, The Third Angel is a work of startling beauty about the unique, alchemical nature of love. 

9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. 

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air. 

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves. 

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, 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. 

As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved–the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them–are swept up in a wake of spells and charms. 

But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 

Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance. 

Both playful and seductive, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern’s spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages.


10. Matilda by Roald Dahl 


Goodreads Summary:

Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Mrs. (“The”) Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.

She warms up with some practical jokes aimed at her hapless parents, but the true test comes when she rallies in defense of her teacher, the sweet Miss Honey, against the diabolical Trunchbull. There is never any doubt that Matilda will carry the day. Even so, this wonderful story is far from predictable. Roald Dahl, while keeping the plot moving imaginatively, also has an unerring ear for emotional truth. The reader cares about Matilda because in addition to all her other gifts, she has real feelings.


As I finish these books I will be posting reviews of them. Let’s hope I get through all ten books!