Book Review: The Whiskey Sea by Ann Howard Creel

29003443Title: The Whiskey Sea

Author : Ann Howard Creel

Publisher : Brilliance Audio

Release date : August 23rd, 2016

Rating : 3.7/5

☯ Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

Motherless and destitute, Frieda Hope grows up during Prohibition determined to make a better life for herself and her sister, Bea. The girls are taken in by a kindly fisherman named Silver, and Frieda begins to feel at home whenever she is on the water. When Silver sells his fishing boat to WWI veteran Sam Hicks, thinking Sam would be a fine husband for Frieda, she’s outraged. But Frieda manages to talk Sam into teaching her to repair boat engines instead, so she has a trade of her own and won’t have to marry.

Frieda quickly discovers that a mechanic’s wages won’t support Bea and Silver, so she joins a team of rumrunners, speeding into dangerous waters to transport illegal liquor. Frieda becomes swept up in the lucrative, risky work—and swept off her feet by a handsome Ivy Leaguer who’s in it just for fun.

As danger mounts and her own feelings threaten to drown her, can Frieda find her way back to solid ground—and to a love that will sustain her?

⚜ Review :

The air is warm, the couch is comfortable, the sun is shining, and I am currently in the mood for a nice, street-risky bike ride. That’s kind of how I felt while I was reading The Whiskey Sea.

Now, you might be asking yourself: Huh? Let me explain it to you. The Whiskey Sea, from the title to the plotlines, is a quietly brooding storm. Everything seems to be in their right place, everyone is going on their business, but you just know there’s a spark somewhere waiting to be ignited. And it does!

The setting of this book is in a coast town, but it isn’t the usual, quiet one we hear about. This is in the time of the Prohibition, liquor and money, pirates and rum runners, coastal fishing life and sea. Throughout my reading, I fully appreciated the historical details that the author put her mind into, the research she’s obviously had to do. Creel balances all of those hazardous elements in a captivating tale about two sisters, who fight to make a life of their own. I really liked Bea, and Frieda, and even Silver! The characters were interesting, fully developed, with their admirable qualities and their awful flaws. This is the first Ann Howard Creel book I’ve read, but from what I’ve seen of other reviews, she really has a talent for writing characters.

The novel was fast paced! It felt like an adventure, although it isn’t anything like The Hobbit or Red Rising. The combination of Prohibition and strong-willed women really mixed well in this case. The romance was an underlying theme; it wasn’t the cheesy, obvious kind some people would like to read. This one was all about struggles, and bitterness, but it wasn’t sad and unpleasant: it was actually quite fun to read, the interaction between the characters involved.

The Whiskey Sea was a read I expected to be great, and it didn’t disappoint me!

 

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Book Review: The Muse by Jessie Burton

27213208Title : The Muse

Author : Jessie Burton

Publisher : Ecco

Release date : July 26th, 2016

Rating : 3.5/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

On a hot July day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the stone steps of the Skelton gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change forever. Having struggled to find her place in the city since she arrived from Trinidad five years ago, she has been offered a job as a typist under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick. But though Quick takes Odelle into her confidence, and unlocks a potential she didn’t know she had, she remains a mystery – no more so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.

The truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of a renowned art dealer, is harbouring ambitions of her own. Into this fragile paradise come artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his half-sister Teresa, who immediately insinuate themselves into the Schloss family, with explosive and devastating consequences . . .

Review :

This book reminded me of why I love reading in the first place.

When I requested The Muse, it wasn’t because I was attracted to the subject. Actually, I was utterly uninterested in the plot, which featured a mysterious painting and super vague references to character changes. All in all, the plot wasn’t impressive.

What drew me to The Muse was the author, Jessie Burton. I had heard of her work before with The Miniaturist, and I thought it would be nice to give her a try with this one. And boy, did I enjoy my reading! Again, I wasn’t invested in the story; I was invested in her writing. Wow wow and wow! She could have been writing about someone’s stance for pages and I would have been sucked in nonetheless. Her words just flow effortlessly, in a way that captivates the reader with its rhythm and vividness and a certain kind of dry politeness.

In the beginning, it started out slow, and never really picked up any pace. There wasn’t a lot of action, I didn’t feel very active while reading the book, but the atmosphere and the characters made up for it so much that it counterbalanced the lack of “physical excitement”. What can I say, Burton’s writing was -and is- formidable. What excited me throughout my reading were the drama and intrigue, the mystery going on around that painting. What also helped greatly to add to this story’s awesomeness was the amount of research Burton must have done to come up with a believable plotline. It was obviously very well researched, and I felt like I actually learnt some things from it.

The characters themselves were stars in their own right. On the one hand, we have Odelle Bastien, in the 1960s. She is a well-educated, curious and lively poet, who is very conscious as to how hard she has to work in order to become a published writer since she’s an immigrant. As a poet, she has a way with words that is completely lovely and appealing, which made her my favorite character. Odelle is, actually, the perfect heroine, one who isn’t too annoying because of recklessness and one who isn’t too perfect as a character. On the other hand, we have Olive Schloss, in the 1930s. She’s cool also, but compared to Odelle, she’s rather plain. She’s the one who paints and allows another to take all the credits. So obviously, that says something about her, but I guess Odelle was just too radiant for me to appreciate Olive like I should.

All in all, it was a great read! The writing and characters were awesome, but I would only recommend this book for those who are already into reading.

** Thank you to Edelweiss and to Ecco for providing me with an e-copy of this novel.

Book Review : Saving Abby by Steena Holmes

Title: Saving Abby

Author : Steena Holmes

Publisher : lake union publishing

Release date : May 31st, 2016

Rating : 4.5/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

All children’s book illustrator Claire Turner ever wanted was to be a mother. After six years of trying to conceive, she and her husband, Josh, have finally accepted that she will never be pregnant with a child of their own.

Yet once they give up hope, the couple gets the miracle they’ve been waiting for. For the first few months of her pregnancy, Claire and Josh are living on cloud nine. But when she begins to experience debilitating headaches, blurred vision, and even fainting spells, the soon-to-be mother goes to the doctor and receives a terrifying diagnosis. Since any treatment could put their unborn baby’s life at risk, the Turners must carefully weigh their limited options. And as her symptoms worsen, Claire will have to make an impossible decision: Save her own life, or save her child’s?

Review :

Saving Abby is a soft and heart-gripping story, for when you seek vulnerable strength and ferocious love.

I don’t personally know Holmes, but I’m assuming she has soft hands. Why do I think that? It’s because her writing is sublimely delicate. Think of soft blankets, or calm waters. Comfort wraps its hands around me when I read her book. It’s a very good writing style for such a story about loss, love and struggles. Holmes manages to convey every thought and emotion she strives to re-create in Claire’s story. A strong maturity for a delicate subject, that’s what I faced in this novel… and it fit perfectly. The pacing is good: a bit slow, but always constant.

The chapters alternate between her last travel and the present, between the mourning of her lost dream and her pregnancy. While they were on vacation, Josh and Claire had to say goodbye to her dream of having a child, so they travelled wherever they wanted. The scenery and foreign places were so well described that I felt I was there with them. I’m not talking about actual descriptions. I’m talking about the local experience, you know? Little shops and bookstores and all the little things that give a place its uniqueness, all of those contributed to the feeling that I travelled with them.

Josh’s and Claire’s relationship was adorable. They take care of, worry about and strengthen each other. Their dynamics, as a couple, is dreamy: it’s the kind of marriage anyone would want. Their life is also great together, having successful careers and enough money to enjoy life at their leisure. Everything is good… except for their failed dream of being parents. Sometimes Claire or Abby acted in ways I couldn’t understand, and yes it did get me frustrated, but at the end of the day, you realize that redemption is also part of Holmes’ story.

Saving Abby is an emotional novel, and Holmes created such wonderful characters that we can’t help but feel their joy and their heartache.

Picture sources : 1, 2

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ARC Review: Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet by H. P. Wood

27015411Title : Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet

Author : H. P. Wood

Publisher : Sourcebooks Landmark

Release date : June 7th, 2016

Rating : 4.1/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

May 1904. Coney Island’s newest amusement park, Dreamland, has just opened. Its many spectacles are expected to attract crowds by the thousands, paying back investors many times over.

Kitty Hayward and her mother arrive by steamer from South Africa. When Kitty’s mother takes ill, the hotel doctor sends Kitty to Manhattan to fetch some special medicine. But when she returns, Kitty’s mother has vanished. The desk clerk tells Kitty she is at the wrong hotel. The doctor says he’s never seen her although, she notices, he is unable to look her in the eye.

Alone in a strange country, Kitty meets the denizens of Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet. A relic of a darker, dirtier era, Magruder’s is home to a forlorn flea circus, a handful of disgruntled Unusuals, and a mad Uzbek scientist. Magruder’s Unusuals take Kitty under their wing and resolve to find out what happened to her mother.

But as a plague spreads, Coney Island is placed under quarantine. The gang at Magruder’s finds that a missing mother is the least of their problems, as the once-glamorous resort town is abandoned to the freaks, anarchists, and madmen.

 

Review :

Ok so, you know when you decide to taste a dish, and it tastes completely different from what you expected, but it was still very good, so you end up pleasantly surprised? That’s how I felt about Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet!

From the deep corners of my mind, I managed to find a comparison for Wood’s writing style: you’re watching someone you respect walk away from you, but suddenly, they realize they have a last thing to say, and so they toss behind them the words you’ve been waiting to hear. It’s that kind of careless, yet thoughtful prose that you can expect to find in Magruder’s. At every page, I found myself smiling a little, intrigued and charmed by the wittiness of Wood’s writing! It’s elegant, and polished, like something you’d find in the early 1900s, which is the era in which the novel takes place. Think of the way they speak in Downton Abbey. The early 1900s being the turn of the century, it is a period of wonder over technology, electricity and electronic gadgets. As far as I learnt in my history and economics classes, Magruder’s is historically accurate. Not only in the technology domain, but also about the illness, the locations, and other little things, while still managing to remain in the Fiction section.

The build up to the catastrophic plague is very good; it would be considered slow for some people, but it was well paced for me, and realistic, considering the fact that we follow the lives of freaks and outcasts, who have no quick way to learn anything except by figuring out everything by themselves. However, as my reading progressed, I realized I had yet to read anything truly exciting. If you’re looking for a Night Circus kind of feel, you’ll be disappointed: Magruder’s was a rather depressing story, coated in chocolate. Like in Night Circus, I expected a dreamy, foreign-like, mystical and strange atmosphere, and wonderful descriptions of the Unusuals and their oddities. But nothing really sparked up my imagination or made me dream… which was enormously disappointing. But the ending itself was suspenseful and fast paced, magnificently written. Throughout the book, Wood handled well the themes of gender roles and discrimination. It was direct and powerful, and sent a strong message of solidarity and self-esteem.

In every chapter, points of views alternate between characters, and it creates an intricate and complete painting of the events, from one person to the other. Through the story, you get a real sense of the Unusuals’ closeness and intimacy. There are heart-warming relationships, bonding together enchanting characters, like the gender fluid Rosalind, or the mute boy P-Ray. Each character is quite real, “three-dimensional”. They are complete, down to their background and quirks and way of speaking. Even when a conversation occurs among many characters, everything is said in each and every one’s particular tone. It was an amazing arabesque of personalities. We encounter the strong, the resilient, the lost, the determined, the confused, the selfish, the practical, and many more colorful figures throughout the story. Even though, as I’ve said, it’s a depressing story, they don’t let it get them down, and they bounce back.

In conclusion, Magruder’s was a delightful story, written by a master’s hand, touching many delicate subjects, but managing to make me root for all the characters.

** Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for providing me with an e-copy of this book!

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Book Review + GIVEAWAY : Incarnation by Laura Davis Hays

Title : Incarnation

Author : Laura Davis Hays

Publisher : Terra Nova Books

Release date : February 29th, 2016

Rating : 4.3/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

 

Kelsey Depuis, Santa Fe scientist, and Iriel, betrothed on Atlantis to a man she cannot love two young women bound by a single soul. In Kelsey s everyday world, three men shape her life: Myron Crouch, the boss of BioVenture Enterprises; Harrison Stillman, a brilliant colleague of hers there; and Stan Dresser, who twists her feelings with his kisses and lies. But gradually, growingly, Iriel is shaping her life too. Through dreams and visions, she draws Kelsey into the ancient realm where refusal to marry Gewil has driven her to daring flight with fantastic creatures across a strange and terrible land. As Kelsey joins other BioVenture researchers testing a new organism on a remote Caribbean island, turmoil and violence darken her fate and Iriel s presence grows stronger. Worlds shift and merge, danger grows. Past and present, vengeance and love swirl together as the seas rise up, the seas that once swallowed Atlantis. Tested in life-or-death struggle, Kelsey must face an ordeal she can survive only through great courage and deep karmic understanding.”

Review :

A smashing novel by Laura Davis Hays, intertwining science, culture and spirituality!

I must admit it, when I read the summary, I was intrigued but mostly perplexed as to how Hays would pull off such a story. It’s a very unusual mash-up of biology and mythology! Therefore, I approached Incarnation with care and curiosity, but boy, am I glad I did! Laura Davis Hays apparently doesn’t have any trouble blending our modern era with the lost world of Atlantis. She manipulates words like an expert chess player with his pawns, with precision and grace.

At the beginning, I struggled a little bit with the complexity of the novel, with the back and forth between the times, and all the characters I met. Incarnation is not a book you read lightly; it’s a book that requires thinking, and open-mindedness. The science aspect was easy enough for me, as I studied science for the biggest part of my life. But, as my reading progressed and my understanding of the events as well, I started to appreciate the pace and the suspense! Man, the suspense glued me to the book, having me anticipating Kelsey’s and Iriel’s long-awaited collision! The suspense-building was also formidably done.

The main characters, Kelsey and Iriel, were well-developed. They are strong and resilient women, realistic as you would find in every day life, and worthy of all of my praise. I particularly noticed Kelsey’s character development, as she started a bit…unfocused, and then became more mature and made better decisions. Their alternating points of view (and therefore, their era differences) drew me in the conflict at heart and engaged me in their extraordinary adventure.

Hays writes beautifully. She especially has a master’s hand for descriptions! Those were incredibly imaginative and rich, so much I had no trouble imagining the spaces she was describing. Atlantis was so well detailed; I was completely engrossed whenever I was reading Iriel’s parts, as if her world was an actual, real place, but at the same time so out of reach for us, mere mortals.

All in all, the author expertly delivered a complex and haunting story, set in a modern scientific world but shaken by a lost and ancient civilization. I highly recommend this book!

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Book Review : The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

19063

Title : The Book Thief

Author : Markus Zusak

Publisher : Knopf Books for Young Readers

Release date : March 14th, 2006

Rating : 6/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Review :

ONE OF THE BEST.BOOKS.EVER.

Seriously, first, the choice of narrator??? So original!! How did Zusak even think of that in the first place?? And to portray it not as an evil, lurking presence, but just a SOMETHING doing its job, observing, commenting, thinking, being captivated by the protagonist…

Second, ohh the innocence. Among the tragedy she’s in, she still wants to read and satisfy her curiosity, and play with her friend, and bicker and laugh and, ugh. It tore at my heart.

Third, I loved ALL THE CHARACTERS. It’s not often that I like all the characters in a book, but this one managed it because they represent everything I’d love in a family.

I don’t know what else to say, guys, just go read it. I’m sorry about the shortness of this review. I really have no words to describe how much I loved it. You won’t regret it.

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Book Review : Room by Emma Donoghue

7937843Title : Room

Author : Emma Donoghue

Publisher : Little, Brown and Company

Release date : September 13th, 2010

Rating : 4.8/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

Review :

You might know this book because it earned a movie adaptation (Brie Larson just won the Leading Actress Oscar for it).

The book was really good. It’s in Jack’s (the child) point of view, and so its innocence is poignant. I repeat, INNOCENCE, among the TRAGEDY HE’S IN. But, he basically doesn’t know that his situation is wrong, and the reader is left feeling so sad but at the same time so happy that he’s oblivious to their misfortune. You grow attached to him, you want to shelter him and keep up the lie about the simple world he lives in. He is attached to his mother, who does her best to keep him safe and comfortable.

Donoghue does a good job of writing the way a child might think, with some grammatical errors here and there, and how he addresses all his furniture by their “name”. Really, it blew my mind how well she did it. The characters themselves are quite likable, despite some (obviously) character issues related to their captivity. However, everything, including the actions of other characters, are understandable. Donoghue seems to know a lot about how the handling of that kind of situation works. All in all, it was the writing and Jack who took my breath away.

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ARC Review : Who I Am With You by Missy Fleming

29637320Title : Who I Am With You

Author : Missy Fleming

Publisher : Missy Fleming/Amazon

Release date : April 25th, 2016

Rating : 5/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

After witnessing the devastating events of September 11th firsthand, Olivia Van den Berg turned to drugs in hopes of burying the horrifying memory of her parents’ deaths. Nine years later, she’s sober and back in New York for the first time to visit her dying grandmother. With no other heirs, the family business will fall on Olivia’s shoulders, but is she strong enough take her rightful place at the head of a multi-million dollar corporation?

Duncan McMurray is a FDNY firefighter and a hopeless mess. He lost so much that fateful day – his family, his department brothers, his will to live. Years later he’s still struggling to come to terms with his survivor’s guilt and he does it with any substance he can get his hands on. One thought keeps him going … the girl with the chestnut hair he saved as hell crashed down around him, the only proof he wasn’t a complete failure.

A strange encounter reunites Olivia and Duncan once again and the two feel an instant connection. As Olivia falls in love with the man from her past, doors to her future begin to open and she must decide which path to follow. Who I Am With You is a story of love, fear, addiction and coming to terms with who you are and who you are supposed to be.

Review :

First of all, I would like to thank Missy Fleming for entrusting me with her eBook. Go check it out on Amazon!

This book blew my mind away! The characters were incredible and I fully appreciate that the author knew what she was talking about.

At the beginning, it seems like a typically liked story: the beginning comes off a little bit biography-ish, the writing is good, but nothing exceptional. It was a pretty exciting read: it’s fast-paced when it needs to be, it never drags on (!), there’s even a bit of suspense and mystery. It feels like a movie on paper, a good movie, the kind that would remind you of Still Alice. The author seems to have done quite a lot of research on firefighting, business, drug addiction, rehab, and 9/11. I am always so grateful when an author does their homework, and in this book, Fleming did it well! The insight I got about what happened during 9/11, in and around the towers… Makes me wonder if she was actually there. It was THAT good, guys.

There were two bits that ticked me off a bit, and I’m going to quote them:

What a pussy (p. 54)

and

Y’all are a bunch of girls (p. 334)

I mean, really??? People still use those expressions?? Um… *disapproving look*

Anyway, all the characters are realistic; people you could encounter in your daily life. They have their problems, flaws and quirks. Let’s talk about Olivia. Oh, Olivia *clutches my heart*. She is AMAZING. She is my GIRL CRUSH. Ok, let me tell you something: I usually read a lot of Young Adult (YA) Fiction. The characters I read about are around 18 years old. And sometimes, being so young and not having sorted out their crap, I sometimes wonder what the hell are you doing?? Get a grip. But here, Olivia being an older protagonist, it makes her usually doubtful decisions more acceptable, because she’s independent, logical, and smart, autonomous, and mature. Oh yes, MATURE. Despite her addiction, and her struggle to overcome it, she’s been groomed for big responsibilities, and every reader could see that. Again, she’s mature, and she cares deeply for her well-being and recovery. She doesn’t let no man take her down with him, and it’s clear that she’s fighting her demons the right way. She’s a survivor, a role model. She’s so honest and open about her problems; it’s a perfect message to those who survived addiction and/or tragedies. It’s refreshing to have a protagonist who went through all these stuff and who didn’t become an unsentimental, emotionless zombie. The future and her recovery are her main concerns, and getting help is shown to be THE best way to help ourselves. She is THE BOSS.

Secondly, Duncan. I love Duncan. He’s a cutie, what with his love of kids and his willingness to visit the ones in hospitals. But, he’s a broken character, even worse than Olivia, because he’s still in the midst of his addiction. His attempts at stopping are brave and admirable, and strength is perceived in the way he wants to redeem himself. In any other book, one that focuses on him, his hardships and his recovery, he would’ve been a great character. But here, as the main love interest? Can you guys see the issues? I’ll let you see it by yourselves, when you read the book.

Who I Am With You tackles real issues, in a realistic way. It’s about moving on, and doing what’s best for you and who you want to be. However, for a story revolving around such a dark subject, it never failed to make me laugh and smile at times.

Adults didn’t possess the same resiliency. They gave into darker emotions, depression and hopelessness.

This was exactly what I feared would happen in this novel, but I was scared for nothing, because it wasn’t at all depressing. It shows us something concrete, and more accessible, to do to heal and to move on. It’s a great change from what we usually read in books about healing, which are usually monotonous and slow and introspective, like a 200-page therapy. Here we see two protagonists who are quite lively and driven.

All in all, it was the perfect contemporary romance fiction I needed. Recommended!!

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Book Review : The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

9361589Title : The Night Circus

Author : Erin Morgenstern

Publisher : Doubleday

Release date : September 13th, 2011

Rating : 6/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

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 lvies 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.

Review :

For those of you who are wondering what to read next, The Night Circus has become one of my favorite books.

The summary is misleading, though : no, it’s not an action-packed novel, it’s not a steamy, passionate love story. This novel revolves around a circus, its influence on everyone involved, its development. I don’t say this to turn you off, but it felt much more like a description than an actual story. Yes, there are characters, each very interesting in their own way, mysterious and curious and amazing, and they have their own plot lines and secrets and revelations to make (it’s all wonderful, really). But they’re all HERE, to contribute to the circus, you know what I mean? They handle blueprints and paperwork, and influence our protagonists to improve the circus itself. I say this again, it ALL REVOLVES AROUND THE CIRCUS.

But boy, was it imaginative. Erin Morgenstern has created the circus of my dreams, filled with magic and amazement and awe-inspiring descriptions. You WISH you were there, walking around the tents and satisfying your curiosity at every turn. Your mind will be blown away by all the dreams this book inspires you.

The characters are lovable enough, the “duel” referred to in the summary will leave you confused most of the time (until you completely understand it), but really, her writing is worth the trip. The atmosphere is incredible. You won’t find intricate plot lines and character development. After all, it remains Le Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams, and dreams don’t need logic and reason.

If you love to dream and to imagine and to wonder, then this book is FOR YOU. Enjoy!

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Book Review : Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

3836Title : Don Quixote

Author : Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Publisher : Penguin Classics

Release date : February 5th, 2003

Rating : 2/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

Don Quixote has become so entranced by reading chivalric romances, that he determines to become a knight-errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, his exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote’s fancy often leads him astray – he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants – Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together, and together they have haunted readers’ imaginations for nearly four hundred years.

With its experimental form and literary playfulness, Don Quixote generally has been recognized as the first modern novel. The book has had enormous influence on a host of writers, from Fielding and Sterne to Flaubert, Dickens, Melville, and Faulkner, who reread it once a year, “just as some people read the Bible.”

Review :

I read this book for the sole reason of it being considered by many the first modern book…and that’s it. I didn’t like it, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Why? It was completely ridiculous.

FIRST PART :
The main character, Don Quixote, must surely be schizophrenic, despite the lack of diagnosis. I s2g, he reads some books about knights, and BAM, he starts seeing the world as being part of his books! He challenges innocents, thinking they owe him the utmost respect and/or thinking they’re enemies, imagines a flock of sheep as being an army, hallucinates adventure anywhere. It’s royally absurd! His thinking and reasoning are very clear and precise, but as they say, the content is more important than the container, and clearly the content isn’t well! As soon as something doesn’t seem to fit his delusions, he blames it on an enchantment he’s the victim of.

Sure, the writing befits the era during which it was published, good vocabulary and all, but dang, how I hated the protagonist! He would’ve been chained in an asylum if he lived in our time, such was the danger he represented to anyone he meets!

The other character, Sancho Panza, his squire (smh), is not much better, considering he is his FREAKING SQUIRE. But, at times, he expresses some sane thoughts, which is a relief when you’re 200 pages in the book and all you’ve seen so far is delusions and absurdity.

Here’s some good, though : it’s “funny” sometimes, and there were some parts which I liked. However, I could count them on one hand.

SECOND PART :

Both characters were more likable. Don Quixote, now knowing that his exploits are known worldwide, is less seeking to establish his reputation as a knight errant, and Sancho, who now knows his master is mad but, in the eyes of many, is madder to follow him still, displays a humorous side and takes advantage of Quixote’s blindness to reality to cover up his own mistakes. For example, when he couldn’t find Dulcinea Del Toboso but made her up as having been victim of an enchantment.

What rubbed me off the wrong way was that there are so many people who were so amused by Don Quixote’s madness that they played along, just to have a good laugh. That’s no way to treat a mentally ill person, no matter how well they speak. Don Quixote seems only crazy when the subject of knight errant is brought up, but about other subjects, he’s a very logic and knowledgeable man. He has a heart in the right place and he genuinely believes in all the virtues of a knight errant.

The character development of the two protagonists was well handled. I was pleasantly surprised. You see how Sancho’s attitude toward his master changes.
The dialogues are a bit too long, with a lot of sentence flourishing and unnecessary ranting. I admit I skipped some parts because they were just too long. I’m not saying they aren’t useful to the plot; after all, the plot is only about Don Quixote’s adventures, which encompass everything that’s in the book.

CONCLUSION :
The individuality of Cervantes’ characters is remarkable. Everyone has a distinct personality & there are well-made character developments. Especially in the 2nd part.

It’s interesting to see how the characters themselves react to knowing they’re being written about. The book is a nice exploration of narration, I’ll grant it that.

It does distinguish itself from other knightly tales, though, as the protagonists are not all that dignified. They fall, and get beaten, and relieve their..natural needs. They’re pretty much “real” people in their adventures, except of course for their insanity.

Anyway, stay clear of this book, unless you’re curious about its reputation, like I was. I really didn’t like it.