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Monday, June 24, 2013

Come one! Come all! A MUST READ!!

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh the circus! What a novelty! But wait- this book is not what it appears, but rather an illusion... Morgenstern's debut is a complex story of 3 interwoven plots that will come together in a spectacular finish that I was neither hoping for, nor expecting. "The Night Circus" has mystery--TONS OF IT--, love, betrayal, blood, loss, confusion and above all, magic.

Folks, I picked up this book thinking that it may be somewhat along the lines of Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants and was enticed by the idea of another circus novel. Low and behold, I was not only satisfied, but I was beyond enthralled with this novel because of all of the different elements that made it operate, much like an actual circus.

Celia and Marco are two people who are thrown into "the game", and I dare not ask what the game is, for fear of the silly Facebook gimmick of volleying between people without an actual answer. These protagonists are going through the same thing and we as readers aren't really sure about what is going until midway through the novel. Both individuals are young illusionists, complete with acts that defy nature and any trickery that lead others around them to believe that it must be actual magic. Of course, two individuals who are set against each other in becoming the so-called "master" set up another plot that I also enjoyed; they fall in love. :) So what happens when you fall in love with the enemy of whom you are supposed to defeat??? It's worth the read to find out, trust me. OH- and there are many twists in the book that you would not have truly expected the end result to come out.

Second plot line (albeit much more minor than the previously mentioned) is that of Bailey, a much more relatable character who is conflicted between his own ambitions and those of his strict farmer father who just wants him to follow familial inheritance. I personally enjoyed Bailey because he was the character that anchored the reader to the reality that was very limited in the book.

Thirdly, the final plot line is that of the actual operation of the circus-- an entity that runs with illusionists, contortionists, fortune tellers, not to mention the paperwork people behind the scenes. (No clowns--whew!). There are all of these elements that are present within the circus, and are definitely connected to within the story's progression.

Morgenstern pulled out all of the stops with vivid details that gave me the idea that I was actually watching the illusions performed in front of me. I felt the passion and connections to all of the characters [NOTE-Bailey was useful here...He kept reminding me that this was just an act and I needed to stay grounded.} The only thing that threw me off, unfortunately, were the dates posted under the chapter headings. YOU MUST KEEP TRACK! I had to reread a few chapters to understand the full effect of what was occurring within chronological order.

All in all- READ THIS BOOK! However, make sure you have plenty of time scheduled because it does take quite a bit of time to get through. I recommend that you read a few chapters so that you are caught up on all different plot lines then take a break... In doing so, you can relive the circus and experience the magic.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher (RITA Nominee )

Betrayal (Where The Heart Lives, #2)Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I often stray away from Christian romance, primarily because I feel that there will be oddly placed Biblical references throughout the book that will stray me away from engaging with a trashy romance read. And if it were up to someone overbearing like my mother, then Christian fiction would be the furthest thing away from trashy romance reads. But when you have a romantic plot that just does not seem plausible at all, of course it’s going to go on the “to-read” list by Smart Bitches. We have a hot religious cowboy (who knows how to read! Ahhh! ) and right away I’m swept off of my feet…And I was just looking at the cover folks.
There are two separate plot lines going on in this story: first, “Betrayal” is the second novel in Hatcher’s “Where the Heart Lives” trilogy, but you won’t need to have read the others to understand what is going on. Each novel in the series focuses on one of the Brennan children, who were separated when they were younger and sent to different foster families. So if you want the full story, check them out. “Betrayal” focuses on Hugh, the big brother in the Brennan clan, and his happened-by-chance encounter with widowed Julia Grace. On his way to Idaho to search for his sisters, Hugh meets Julia and agrees to work around her ranch doing all of the manly work. Right away, the reader’s reality check alarm goes into play—he just mysteriously happens to have horse trouble when he encounters a widow’s ranch? Hmm…
However, the story does have some valuable morals to it. Both the hero and heroine use their religious beliefs to influence their choices, “God give me strength” and what-not. What I found particularly interesting and actually realistic was how Hugh and Julia connected romantically with a religious foundation. Each of them wanted an independent life with their separate goals--Hugh wants to find his sisters, Julia wants to keep her ranch, but is still haunted by the memories of her abusive deceased husband—and they solve their problems through God’s word.
Personally, I started the story and ignored the religious parts for fear that the novel would turn into a Bible lesson. But once you get involved with Hugh and Julia’s chemistry, you’ll want to see how it turns out.


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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"The White Tiger"-Aravind Adiga

The White TigerThe White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very interesting pseudo-narrative that tells the reader about a man who calls himself "The White Tiger". Balram is a man who has come to work as a driver from the country, only to be swept up in the conflict that comes with being a servant in a big city. The entire book is set up as a letter from Balram who is self-proclaimed fugitive (we won't find out why until later) writing to the Premier in Socialist China. Personally, I was confused with this part of as to why he was writing him, but the reason I gathered was simple-- no one else will tell us how it truly is. And for doing so, Balram is considering himself an outlaw.

I enjoyed this Man Booker Prize winner for its momentum that constantly kept the reader interested, and even though I feared I wouldn't understand the cultural differences, Adiga takes time to explain things in detail for his reader. With that said, if there are any points of confusion, feel free to pause and do some Googling... it definitely helped when there were moments involving Socialism, etc that I didn't fully comprehend.



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Monday, June 17, 2013

Margaret Atwood's "Oryx and Crake"- Reviewed 2007

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy, #1)Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this as part of the assigned reading for English 106 at Purdue University with a TA who thought that we should be prepared for the future... Little did I know, it was a proclamation more towards the evolution of the dystopic literature genre, versus the actual dystopia that could engulf the world. At the time, I had not been exposed to much Atwood, (besides "The Handmaid's Tale), and since this was her most recent work I was excited to read it.

There are many biblical connections that one needs to make sure they have brushed up on while reading "Oryx and Crake", simply because the plot is connected metaphorically to all of the Adam and Eve allusions... Atwood creates Eden- a paradise that slowly goes to ruin throughout the novel, but despite giving away that major detail, I'll also give away that the characters story of Oryx, Crake and Snowman are much more interesting. To see different people operate within the possibility of demise is very interesting. Looking back on my time with this novel, I can safely say that I enjoyed the experience.... Even more so, I'm THRILLED to see that it began a trilogy.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell

An inquisitive short young adult read that just keeps dragging you through a mystery of a ghost haunting a 14 year old girl. The only attribute that I found particularly interesting was the repetition of "where ya at?", a phrase I find commonly amongst curious teenagers.

A Place Not A Place- David Carr

Very good textbook for Library Science and Museum Studies students... I specifically like how it incorporates Education and Bloom's Taxonomy to create tiers of information exposure for patrons.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac- Gabrielle Zevin

Naomi has amnesia and had to suffer high school at the same time...The horror! Not only can she not remember why she wanted to take photography, but also forgets all about her boyfriend, best friend and the "crazy" kid, all three whom she happens to fall in love with throughout the story. Gazooks girl! Share the wealth!!

The idea was strong, title is ironic, but alas, the plot falls short in places where it needs to be stronger... Much like an actual teenager, this book often changes its mind on what it is going to do next.