Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This book passed by my notice a few months ago when it appeared in a book catalog. It was being promoted, with a few key comments from notable authors and all the usual pre-launch buzz. It intrigued me slightly, but wasn’t enough for it to persist in my memory for long. It wasn’t until it arrived on the cart, ready to be shelved did I give it a second notice, picking it up and taking it home. Even then it wasn’t at the top of my ‘to read’ pile, so I let it wait until I was ready. Now, in the afterglow of reading it, I somewhat regret waiting as long as I did to read it.

I have a few weaknesses when it comes to books. I have a soft-spot for fairy tales and twists on historical fiction. I’m peculiar in my weaknesses, not allowing everything through the gates but rather sifting through what comes to the surface. I like magicians. I like illusionists. I like circuses of old. I like stories of being wrestling with things that are a part of themselves and at the same time are so much bigger.

I will admit that I was wary. I was worried that it would have too many things that I enjoy, but fail in the execution of them. That I would set myself up to love it and wind up slogging my way to the end, feeling tired and exhausted and disgruntled. The fear of disappointment was largely what made me drag my feet. I read the first few pages tentatively, ready to recoil at the slightest sign of a misstep. Ten pages past, then twenty, then fifty. I was hooked, rolling along at the slow boil ready to follow the story where ever it led. As I reached the halfway point, I started to worry about the end. Not whether it would fall apart in the last fifty pages as so many books have done, but whether I was ready for it to end.

The truth was that I wasn’t ready. I wanted to curl up inside the world that this book had created and stay there for forever. I found myself dreaming of this circus. It became a part of me as only the best books can.

I will admit the premise of “two illusionists are set up to compete against one another but end up in love” is a bit hokey. It can so easily become a stereotype, fall into familiar patterns and never surpass them. Such a delicate hand was applied to this that from time to time, I forgot that was how it was being advertised. The story was so lush and full of characters who had their own stories, their own foibles and hopes that it was easy to forget that there was a love story going on. The romance could found in that it wasn’t particularly romantic. It felt more like the love that one has for an idea, for a dream that you try to cling to upon waking but never can get quite right. There were no clear heroes or villains, just people. The Night Circus both reflected life and shrouded it in a mist, making things seem both familiar and far away all that the same time.

This book was a dream, in the best sort of way. While the initial appearance of Bailey confused and irritated me as I tried to figure why we were be giving his take on the circus, I found the revelation to make perfect sense. In a way when the novel finished, the main tale of Marco and Celia came to a close it was also left wonderfully open. You finish the book being left with the promise of possibility. That there is a chance that this circus can come to your town, can change your world if only for a little while.

The novel ends, but the story doesn’t. It doesn’t feel incomplete, but rather like you’re waking from a dream. It was a fairy tale for adults, for those who want to feel like a kid again. I definitely recommend it, even if this is normally your cup of tea. You won’t regret it.

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Trivial Tuesday: A Day Coated in Rain.

Rain rain go away,
Come again another day

Ah a rainy day.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for a rainy day. I can’t quite explain it. I find them to be strangely comforting. There is just something about them that makes me feel better, like I could just curl up with a good (or not so good) book, make myself some tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich and call it a day.

I won’t say that every rainy day brings the same feelings of comfort and nostalgia to mind. They don’t. Like sunny days, no two rainy days are exactly the same. There are certain other factors that have to be considered. Frame of mind and time of the year are at least two of them. How many rain-filled days in a row typically doesn’t factor in, unless there is something really pressing that needs to get done.

I have tried to understand my affection for water-logged days for quite some time now. It can’t be storming (though a few storms can be some fun). It shouldn’t be raining so hard and fast that there is a danger of a floods. A solid, steady shower is good with fits of drizzle and a bit of mist is ideal. Enough to be comforting but not so much that it makes running to the store a complete pain.

Productivity comes more easily on such damp days. I find my focus easier to come by, better to grapple with and cross things off my to do list. This post is an obvious example. When the weather is sunny and bright especially during the nicer months I find my mind drifting outside. There are things I can be doing out there, tasks that I have been procrastinating on that seem to shout to get done. Rain has a way of washing the laziness away. I am always careful to grab such energy when it passes by. One of these days I will find a way to carry it on past the weather, but I haven’t mastered it yet.

This affection could come from my childhood or some intrinsic love that has been built into my DNA. My family (past and present) are folk from cooler, wetter places than the one that I am currently living in. Through the rain I am able to connect with my roots, to get back what I have lost without having to take an eight hour plane trip.

Or it could from the fact that as a kid a rainy weekend meant that I would have a chance to snag my father’s attention away from a project. There were board games and episodes of Double Dare on the TV. If I was on my own I could curl up and read one of the books that I had checked out from the library in peace. There wouldn’t be much nagging for me to go outside and I wasn’t about to pass such opportunities by.

No matter the reasons (big or small, half-remembered or just made up) there is nothing quite like a rainy day.

Unless I’m meant to be at the beach. Then it kind of sucks.

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Book Review: Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner

I read a lot of books.

This is not meant to be an odd brag, but rather just a statement of fact. I should read a lot of books, given that I work in a library and spend a large portion of my day talking to people about books. It is hard to offer an informed opinion (or really just any opinion) about books if you don’t really read them. I also tend to read a wide variety and increasingly often I am trying out books by authors who are popular but I’ve never bothered to read. I don’t always walk away loving them, but I’ve given them a chance so that I can recommend to people who do enjoy a little “popcorn” reading.

That said, I’ve decided to give the whole book reviewing thing a go. This is probably some sort of ill-conceived attempt to get start regularly posting on this blog, but at least I tried. We’ll see how it goes.

Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner

I am always a little wary of books that I have read the reviews of before starting them. It tends to color my opinion and that sets me off, raising my expectations and essentially asking for me to get my hopes dashed. Books that I have read poor reviews of (or read nothing about at all) fair better than those whom I have heard good things about. I judge less, am a bit more patient with them and willing to see if I can understand what the author wanted to get across and what actually was conveyed. Continue reading

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003: Hipsters Are the New [insert blank]

I’ll admit it: at times I can be an unbearable hipster.

It’s terrible. It really is. The thought makes me get all squirmy like a four year-old being made to eat her peas when she really does not want to. I get the urge to stamp my foot and shout “no!” a bunch of times before throwing my peas all over place. That’s right: being told that I am a hipster makes me act like a child which really does nothing to help me prove that I am above that. Rather it merely confirms their beliefs.

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#002: Fandom & ‘Shipping.

Once upon a time (ie: nearly three years ago) I wrote a very long, very ridiculous essay of sorts about fandom and shipping (short for relationships better known as pairings talked about). It was long, it was crazy and funnily enough it is still pretty relavent. While not originally what I had planned to talk about, I figure it deserved a repost.

Age and/or Genetic Relation and/or Time Travel/Vortexes and/or Anything Else Can’t Stop Our Love!:
A Minor Ramble on Loving the One You Love When Social Mores Say “Ew That’s Gross”

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
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#001: Daily Interaction

Not everyone is a nerd.

While not a perfect statement, it is important to remember that not everyone you meet on a daily basis is going to be able to catch your subtle (or notso subtle) references to that think that gets your proverbial nerd gears going. It’s not their fault and it isn’t your fault; nerds (as a proverbial whole) are people too which means that our interests vary greatly across the board.

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A self-professed nerd girl speaks out.

I am the weird one in my circle of friends. “Eccentric” is the word most often used to describe me and I take no issue with it. There are worse things in the world to be labelled than to have people remark on the fact that I tend to hang out in a world that is a bit left of center.

For those of you who are a bit confused, I shall start with the purpose of this exercise and move on from there.

Being a “nerd girl” or “nerdette” is harder than it looks. Some of us have narrow fields of nerdery; others dabble in a little bit of everything and anything. There is nerd-versus-nerd elitism. If it is hard to be a geeky (or nerdy) guy, it is twice as hard to be a nerdy girl. If we’re the “sexy librarians” of the world, what happens if we want to be the superheroines as well and better yet, know what all of that means?

It’s hard to find a place to belong. A collective of so-called “out there” things that both inspire and unite us. Maybe you know a lot about comics of the 1960s or enjoy rambling about grammar. What happens if you like both of those things and like to add in some Renaissance Spanish history?

I can’t say that I am well-versed in any of those things, but I can say that I appreciate the loving care that those who are passionate about them put into their fields (hobbies, quirks).  Which is why I decided there needs to be a guide. It is less of a how-to and more of a travel book-meets- Kelly’s blue book.

From super heroes to geek chic to the perfect mix of things to get your geek-themed party hopping I hope to bridge the gap and give some good ole fashioned blog press to those who deserve it.

So I welcome you to the Nerdette’s Guide.  With a little more sass, class, and a whole lot of fun let’s make this an interesting ride.

Submissions for post ideas and interesting things can be found in the sidebar. Thanks in advance.

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