2017 · Lists · March · Tags

Run Away with the Circus Book Tag

As I’m still a little bit out of reviews and ideas at the moment, I thought I’d do another tag in the meantime! This time I’m doing the “Run Away with the Circus Book Tag”, which is inspired by Owlcrate, who have begun doing tags based on the themes of their boxes. I thought it seemed fun, so here’s my version of the tag!

  • Rings Master: Best Main Character

This is a bit cliché, but Hermione from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is one of my favourite main characters, because she is smart and not ashamed of it. I also really like Karou from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor.

  • Trapeze Artists: Favourite Friendship

Again, Karou and Zuzana from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. I love both of them as characters, and I love reading about their friendship.

  • Juggling: Best Love Triangle

Will, Tessa and Jem from the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare, mainly because it’s not as cliché as many other love triangles I’ve read about.

  • The Big Top: Fantastic World Building

I just read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and even though it’s set in our world, it still seemed so vivid and magical, so I’ll go with this one.

  • Magician: Favourite Magic System

I’m not sure I have one, but I’m listening to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss at the moment and I like how the magic system is set up and explained as something that would actually have a logical explanation (i.e. magic doesn’t just appear, you have to draw energy from something else). I also like how it’s something you can actually study at the university, and that it’s so much more than just “magic”.

  • Tight Rope Walking: A Book that Kept You on the Edge of your Seat

I can’t come up for a good answer for this, because I can’t really remember the last book I read that I just had to continue reading, but I’ll go with Heart of Darkness for this one even though I didn’t particularly like it. There are so many symbols in there that you keep on reading with a sense of doom.

  • Contortionist: Best Plot Twist

I think they mentioned We were Liars by E. Lockhart in the video, and I think I agree. I’ve read other books with good plot twists, but this is the best I can think of as of right now. I don’t think I can say too much about it, though, because of spoilers.

  • Human Cannonball: A Book with an Explosive Ending

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman perhaps doesn’t have a super exciting ending, but it does end with the end of the world, so…

That’s it for this tag! I hope you enjoyed :). The original video can be found here.

 

2017 · Lists · March · Tags

The Intimidating TBR Tag

I decided to do a tag, because it’s going to be a while until I finish either Dracula or The Name of the Wind, so there won’t be reviews up either of them anytime soon. So here’s the Intimidating TBR Tag!

  • A book on your TBR that you haven’t finished

I have two. One is The Diviners by Libba Bray. I started this back in June and read about half of it, but by then I had fallen into a reading slump and found it a bit too slow. So I put it away and have yet to finish it. The other one is Uprooted by Naomi Novik. This is also one that I started during the summer, but put away half-way through because it was a bit too slow, the main character was a wee bit annoying, and I wasn’t really feeling like reading this particular book right then. So I put it away too.

  • A book you just haven’t had the time to read

All of them? But maybe some of the thicker, slower-seeming fantasy books, like Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist and The Muse, or Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

  • A book you haven’t read because it’s a sequel

Lord of the Dark Woods, by Lian Hearn. I got this on sale, and only realised that it’s the second book in a series when I got home (stupid, I know ^.^’).

  • A book you haven’t read because it’s brand new

Skuggan över stenbänken by Maria Gripe. I got this on this year’s book sale, and haven’t gotten around to it yet.

  • A book by an author you read previously but didn’t really like

I don’t think I have any answer for this. If I don’t like a book by an author, I just don’t see the point in buying other books by that author. Like, why should I spend money on something I don’t think I’ll even like?

  • A book on your tar that you’re just not in the mood to read

The Selection by Kiera Cass. I read the first few pages in this during the summer, but I put it away pretty quickly because I didn’t really like the writing and I haven’t really been in the mood for it since.

  • A book on your tbr that you haven’t read because it’s enormous

I have a few enomous books on my shelves, but American Gods by Neil Gaiman has been around for some time and I haven’t read it yet.

  • A book on your tbr that you bought because of the cover

Maybe The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan, because that cover is gorgeous.

  • A book on your tbr that you find the most intimidating

Hmm… I’m not sure there is one that I find more intimidating than any of the other ones.

2017 · March · Reviews

Book Review: “The Night Circus”, by Erin Morgenstern

Published in 2016 by Vintage | Originally published in 2011 | Five feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:
Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn

As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.
Le Cirque des Rêves
The Circus of Dreams.

Now the circus is open.
Now you may enter.

Review:

I decided to pick this up because I recently read Caraval by Stephanie Garber, and a lot of people had been comparing it to this one. Though I can see where they’re coming from, I must say that I much prefer this one.

My favourite part of this is how atmospheric it was. I think I really helped that you get to read from several different perspectives, so you get to see things from both inside the circus and from an outsider’s point of view. Then you also get to read from people who are somewhere in between, neither part of the circus nor entirely detached from it. I liked that a lot.

I think that it helps to not know too much about this before you start reading – the synopsis I included in the beginning of this review is pretty much all you need. You’re not supposed to know or even understand everything that happens in it. I mean, not even the characters fully understand all the things that happen to them. Somehow, I liked that a lot too, because it adds to the mystery of the story, and weirdly enough, it made it seem more magical and almost real at the same time.

It also takes place during a very long period of time, which means that it jumps around a lot and unless you actually read the chapter headings it might be a little bit difficult to know what’s going on. But I liked that too, that everything eventually wraps up and comes together.

What surprised me was how occasionally dark it was – there would be these moments where the darkness within some of the characters shone through, sometimes in violent ways. That added a complexity and depth to the characters that I enjoyed reading about as well.

This is probably not for everyone, because it is pretty slow, and some things go unexplained (even though I stand by the belief that you’re not meant to understand everything, but I can see how it might annoy some readers). But if you’re into adult fantasy tinted with magical realism, I would definitely recommend this.

2017 · Currently Reading · March

Currently Reading

Here I am with this month’s Currently Reading-post! I only have two books on here this time around, because by the time this goes up I will just have finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (expect a review soon!) and haven’t gotten around to starting anything new yet. Anyway, let’s get right into it!

  • The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know that I started this last month because I didn’t have anything to listen to for a couple of weeks, and then my credit renewed. Well, I  ended up ditching that other audiobook because I liked this one much better. I think I’m around half-way through at this point, and I am loving it. The narrator is awesome, and I love Kvothe as a character.

  • Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Yes, this has been around since October, and no, I haven’t finished it yet. I might just pick it up now that I’ve finished The Night Circus and haven’t started anything else yet.

That’s it! These are usually much longer, so it feels a bit weird to only have two books on here. But it’s a nice way to catch up with what I’m reading at the moment.

2017 · February · Reviews

Book Review: “Norse Mythology”, by Neil Gaiman

Published in 2017 by W&W Norton | Four feathers

Summary:

This is a retelling of Norse myths.

Review:

I can’t tell you if these are good retellings of the myths, considering that I know embarrassingly little about the original ones, so I will just go on and review this as I would any other book.

I enjoyed this so much, and was surprised by the humour in it. The gods would continually mess up and would then end up having to clean up after themselves – I really liked that about them, that they could create a complete mess for themselves just like anyone else.

What is also enjoyable about this collection is that it’s very accessible. It’s told in a colloquial language, which means that they speak like anyone else would speak. Though I still like when myths or myth-like stories are told in the traditional, high-flying language that myths are usually told in, I still liked the way this was told, because the language and tone also contributed to the humour.

As you can probably tell, I liked this a lot, and would definitely recommend it.

2017 · February · Reviews

Book Review: “Caraval”, by Stephanie Garber

Published in 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton | Caraval #1 | 3.5 feathers

Summary:

Scarlett has lived her whole life on the isle of Trisda with her sister and abusive father. Her dream has been to go to Caraval, a performance in which the audience can take part, but has given up hope of ever getting to go. But then, one day, the Caraval master answers her letter and sends along tickets for her sister and her. Then things don’t turn out as planned…

Review:

When I finished reading this, I couldn’t decide on what to rate it. On the one hand, I really liked the idea of a week-long performance where the audience mingles with the actors in trying to win the game, and nobody knows how it will play out until it does. I also liked how Scarlett thought and felt in colours. And it was awesome that sisterhood was such an important part in the book.

On the other hand, there are several reasons why I didn’t end up rating this higher, but I think the most prominent of those was Julian. I guessed early on that there was something off about him, and even though I wasn’t entirely right in my guess and some things got me by surprise, I did hit pretty close. And I just don’t think that a book is that great if the clues are that obvious.

Connected to that, the ending was a bit double too. Scarlett and Julian’s story was wrapped up nicely, but then Tella’s story pointed towards the next book. I wanted suggestions for Julian and Scarlett, too. What will their role be in the next book?

There was also occasionally a bit too much tell and too little show. In the beginning, I felt as if we were just told that Julian is supposed to be a bad guy, but it wasn’t entirely brought forward by his actions until later. And Scarlett was a little bit too fussy.

Also, the solving of the clues seemed too easy. Scarlett would start out, and then it was just straight ahead until she had found Tella. Like, where was the competition? Wasn’t it supposed to be more difficult?

That said, I will probably be picking up the next book. There were some twists and turns in this that I wasn’t expecting, and I would like to see where the next book takes us. I do realise that I paint a pretty bleak picture of Caraval here, so I would like to end by saying that if you’re unsure about whether to pick this up, it’s worth the read.

2017 · February · Reviews

Book Review: “Wide Sargasso Sea”, by Jean Rhys

Published in 2000 by Penguin | Originally published in 1966 | Three feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

Inspired by Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’, WIDE SARGASSO SEA is set in 1830’s Jamaica. Born into an oppressive, colonialist society, white Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality.After their marriage, however, disturbing rumours begin to circulate which poison her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is inexorably driven towards madness. This classic study of betrayal is Jean Rhys’ brief, beautiful masterpiece.

Review:

This was the second time I read this book, and the funny story is that I originally read it before I read Jane Eyre. So I read this a few years ago, then I read Jane Eyre for class recently, and now I reread this for class too. It’s one of those books that aren’t bad, but they aren’t that good either. This felt a bit like fan fiction to me, mostly because it’s supposed to be a response to Jane Eyre but I don’t feel like it ties into it that well. For example, the timeline doesn’t really work. This is set far too late for it to work with Jane Eyre.

However, I do think that it was interesting to see a suggestion of what Antoinette’s life might have been like before she married Rochester and came to England. So I guess that’s what I liked the most about this, but overall, it was just okay.

2017 · February · Films · Reviews

Film Review: “La La Land”

Directed by Damien Chazelle | 2016 | 3 feathers

Summary:

This is about Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a pianist, who meet and fall in love.

Review:

You know, I was a bit disappointed in this. I had such high hopes for it, but then… I don’t want to say that it fell flat, but it didn’t live up to those expectations. I loved the musical format and I really wish that they would make more movies like that, but I found the story a bit strange – especially the ending. The end was so disappointing. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I just wish things had played out differently. They built it up as if it was supposed to go differently, but then it didn’t, and that’s what I didn’t like about it.

So I guess my opinion on this film goes two ways – I loved the music and that it’s a musical (someone said that “they don’t make movies like this anymore”, and that’s so true. I wish they did), but they story wasn’t entirely there for me. I wanted more from it, and when it didn’t quite live up to those expectations, it left me disappointed, which is such a shame considering how much I was looking forward to this.

2017 · February · Reviews

Book Review: “The Great Gatsby”, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Published in 2013 by Vintage Classics | Originally published in 1925 | Five Feathers

Summary from Goodreads:

The world and his mistress are at Jay Gatsby’s party. But Gatsby stands apart from the crowd, isolated by a secret longing. In between sips of champagne his guests speculate about their mysterious host. Some say he’s a bootlegger. Others swear he was a German spy during the war. They lean in and whisper ‘he killed a man once’. Just where is Gatsby from and what is the obsession that drives him?

Review:

I first read this almost three years ago. That was some Swedish translation, and it was also the summer before I began studying at university. I don’t think I fully appreciated it back then, while I think I have a different view of it now that I’ve actually studied literature for a bit. And I’m surprised by how much I liked it.

I actually went back to my notes from 2014 to see what I though about it then, and found that I felt a bit meh about it because I thought it lacked some of the Hollywood flair from the Leonardo DiCaprio movie. But I don’t think that’s what this book is all about. Yes, the parties are a big part of the book, but they’re just for attention – I think the book is really about what happens when the parties are over. And that’s what I missed the last time I read it.

Discussing this in class made it so much better too, because it made me think more about it. It’s not only about the details, it’s about the whole picture that the details make up together, and I sat there thinking that “this really is such a good book”.

I was surprised, though, by how evasive some of the characters felt. Especially Daisy and Gatsby. No one really knew anything about Gatsby, and both of them would sometimes say things twice as if they were trying to not answer the question. But maybe that’s the point too.

Overall, I liked this a lot better this time around, and now I really want to rewatch the movie to see what I think about it now.