The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

There seem to be two schools of thought on this book: either you  love it, or you hate it. I happen to love it! However, I can see how some who read the description of the book might find themselves disappointed, as it does hype the book up to be a little more than it really is. 

The Night Circus is about Le Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams), a mysterious circus that simply appears over night with no announcement. It is simply there, when the day before it wasn't. The Circus is unlike any other circus that has ever existed. It is completely devoid of color - everything is black and white, or shades of gray. There are no clowns or elephants - instead the attractions of Le Cirque des Rêves are far more mysterious and wondrous.  

The descriptions of the Circus were my favorite parts of the book, however some have criticized them as being too wordy. I disagree with this assessment. I found the descriptions to be a perfect aid to my imagination. The Circus is truly a fantastical and wondrous backdrop to the greater story.

Unknown to the may patrons of Le Cirque des Rêves, the Circus is actually a battleground for a challenge taking place between Celia and Marco, two magicians who have been training for this challenge all their lives. Their instructors are old rivals who have held similar challenges throughout the ages, both claiming that their teaching methods are superior to the others. Celia and Marco find themselves caught up in this rivalry without a clear explanation as to the rules of the challenge. One thing becomes clear however - the challenge doesn't end until there is only one competitor standing. The use of the word "challenge" is slightly misleading - it implies that there are epic battles of magical power. This is not the case. The challenge is more a battle of endurance - as Celia and Marco attempt to one-up each other with magical creativity, becoming more and more entangled in the magic of the Circus and struggling to maintain it, while protecting the lives of those involved with the Circus. Those expecting action packed battles will be disappointed.

Complicating matters, Marco and Celia fall in love. Their love story is another point of criticism. If you know that ending the challenge will result in the destruction of the one you love, why wouldn't you continue to play? Easy, because the subtle nature of the challenge won't allow it. There has to be a winner. Maintaining the magic of the Circus while continually adding to it is exhausting - eventually one player will not be able to continue. It is almost cruel - Celia and Marco were chosen as pawns in a game between their two teachers who are determined to show the superiority of their methods. They have no regard for the players themselves, willing to sacrifice them if they should lose. What's intriguing is that the players are not only bound to the game, but also each other. They love and understand each other in a way that no one else can. I found the love story between Marco and Celia very sweet and also a little sad. It added a sense of inevitability and tragedy to the fantasy of the Circus - despite their love, they know that one of them must destroy the other, or sacrifice themselves to save the other. 

Summit has bought the film rights to The Night Circus. It will be interesting to see how this book translates onto film. I am excited to see the Circus come to life, but I have a feeling that artistic licenses will be taken and more action will be added to make the film more exciting to the detriment of the story. I hope that this will not be the case, but I guess we shall see...


The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This book has been on my "to read" list for a while now. I read the review in the New York Times and I was intrigued by the idea of the story. As a History buff, the 1960's is one of my favorite time periods to study - in fact I even wrote my senior thesis in college on Jim Crow Laws from Reconstruction through the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. 

It always amazes me how Americans could spout the ideals of equality and freedom, while denying these same ideals to a large portion of the American population. When I read about Hilly's Home Help Sanitation Initiative, which encourages white families to install separate bathrooms for their colored help to prevent the spread of diseases, I can't help but shake my head at the idiocy of the logic that prevailed during this time period. It's sad to think that people really did think that way. It's even sadder to think that there are still some groups in our society who still face these same issues, however one thing has been proven right again and again throughout our history - American might not always get it right the first time, or the second, but in the end equality and freedom always win.

I enjoyed the book and the characters' stories. I found myself laughing at some of the crazier stories, saddened by some, and outraged by some of the injustices faced by some of the characters. 

I particularly liked a conversation between Aibileen and Minny where they talk about lines  - "Aibileen shakes her head. "I used to believe in em. I don't anymore. They in our heads. People like Miss Hilly is always trying to make us believe they there. But they ain't.'" I thought it was an interesting concept - the idea of lines, and it made me think how often we stop ourselves from doing something because we are afraid to cross those imaginary lines. It's so easy to imprison ourselves in these lines without even realizing it, to hide behind them because it's easier than admitting that they really don't exist. That's what the Civil Rights Movement was all about - making people realize that these "lines" didn't exist - that there was no need for them.

The ending disappointed me a little. There was a huge build up to the question of what would happen after the book was published, but to me the resolution was almost nonexistent. I felt like I was on a roller coaster climbing the track for the expected plunge, only to reach the top and realize the coaster has run out of track, so it slowly just reverses back the way it came. The endings of the characters' stories were short and lacking detail. As I turned the last page, I found myself saying, "That's it?" Despite the ending, I did like the book. It's not one of my favorites, but definitely worth the read.


All You Desire by Kirsten Miller

All You Desire is the second book in the Eternal Ones series. The first book followed a girl named Haven Moore - an outcast in her small southern town, known for her strange visions - as she learns that she is in fact an Eternal One, and the visions she has are not in fact visions, but memories from her previous lives. These memories draw her to her soul mate, Iain Marrow, and they both narrowly escape the clutches of Adam Rosier - a more than human force who has a sick obsession with Haven. Adam is the leader of the Ouroboros Society, an organization whose members all have past lives.

At the end of the first book, Haven and Iain, having faked his own death, escape to Rome where they spend a blissful year. This is where All You Desire picks up - one year later in Rome. Haven is called back to New York when Beau, her best friend (and brother in their past lives) suddenly goes missing. Haven is forced to enlist the help of an underground group called the Horae to save Beau, and in exchange for their help becomes a pawn in their plot to destroy Adam Rosier and the Ouroboros Society. In the process, Haven finds herself drawn to Adam and questioning and risking everything and everyone important in her life.

All You Desire was a good follow up to The Eternal Ones. I enjoy the series, and am intrigued by the idea of past lives, which is what originally drew me to the series. Many of the characters experience "flashbacks" that appeal to the historian in me - All You Desire has Haven reliving a past life in Florence at the outbreak of the Black Death. It's not the best series I've ever read, and it's not one that I will read over and over again, but Kirsten Miller is a good storyteller and mixes the right amount of suspense in with romance. The twists in the plot are not always predictable, which makes for an interesting read. Like the first book, this is a quick read. I would recommend it if you have a short flight or are just looking to waste away the afternoon.  


Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

Inheritance is the fourth, and final (although, Christopher Paolini is not ruling out a return to Alagaësia...here's hoping he is true to his word!) book in the Inheritance series, which chronicles the adventures of Eragon - Shadeslayer and Dragon Rider - as he seeks to rid all of Alagaësia from the clutches of Galbatorix.

**Warning: I am going to try not to give too much away, but there are a few points that I must discuss. If you have not read the book, or in the process of reading it, and do not want to read any spoilers, proceed with caution.**


He Kissed Me: Poetic Worship by Tara D. Lewis

Today I had the privilege of attending a book release party for my good friend, Tara. She has joined the self-publishing movement and published a collection of devotional poems.

Tara has an amazing way with words and is a true example of a person who walks through life with faith. This collection of poems makes an excellent addition to any Christian's devotional collection.

Congratulations Tara - I'm so proud of you, and wish you all the success that you deserve!

 Tara's book is now available on Amazon.com. I have my copy...do you have yours?


Dive For Dreams by E.E. Cummings

dive for dreams or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots and wind is wind) 
trust your heart if the seas catch fire
(and live by love though the stars walk backward)
honour the past but welcome the future
(and dance your death away at the wedding) 
never mind a world with its villains or heroes
(for good likes girls and tomorrow and the earth) 
in spite of everything which breathes and moves, since Doom 
(with white longest hands neating each crease)
will smooth entirely our minds -before leaving my room i turn, 
and (stooping through the morning) kiss this pillow, 
dear where our heads lived and were. 

silently if, out of not knowable 
silently if, out of not knowable 
night's utmost nothing,wanders a little guess 
(only which is this world)
more my life does not leap than with the mystery your smile 
sings or if (spiraling as luminous they climb oblivion)voices who are dreams, 
less into heaven certainly earth swims 
than each my deeper death becomes your kiss 
losing through you what seemed myself,i find 
selves unimaginably mine;beyond 
sorrow's own joys and hoping's very fears 
yours is the light by which my spirit's born: 
yours is the darkness of my soul's return 
-you are my sun,my moon,and all my stars 


Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Out of all the books in the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn is the one that I have the most conflicting emotions about. As the culmination of the series, I had high expectations for it.

For me, Breaking Dawn is the greatest departure from reality. It requires a greater "leap" into the world of fantasy than the other books in the series. I felt like even though the previous three books are fiction, they still had elements that grounded them in reality.

However, most of that goes out the proverbial window in Breaking Dawn. There are several elements of the story that require one to turn off the rational part of your brain and simply accept them as fact - such as the fact that Edward, an undead vampire, having the ability to create live offspring - in order for the story to work.

You have to be willing to make that jump with Stephenie if you are going to accept and appreciate Breaking Dawn. I have to admit that the first time I read Breaking Dawn, during the marathon weekend when I read the whole series, the departure from reality didn't bother me so much because I was already so lost in the world of Twilight. However, after subsequent readings, I found myself questioning the story more, and it started to ruin it for me...until I turned off the rational part of my brain.

I think that all book lovers find a book or series (I have several!!) that we come back to again and again because it offers us what all great stories do - an escape...a chance to go places we can only dream of, to see things we can only imagine, and to do things that we may never have the real courage to do. Twilight is one of those series for me...

People always ask me why I read it again and again. It's because I don't have to rationalize it. I have a job that requires me to make rational decisions all day, and I love being able to turn that side off once in awhile. I love it because I love the characters, and the fantasy, and the cliche theme of love conquering all and living happily ever after.

I did see Breaking Dawn - Part I and I wasn't disappointed. There was some artistic licenses taken and some things that I didn't care for, but overall I feel it was fairly true to the book. But fair warning...the movie also requires a "leap."

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

This novella is a fun little departure from the Twilight Series. Stephenie Meyer has a talent for creating compelling characters - for me, the characters are the reason that I keep coming back to the series.

I have to admit, that I didn't pay Bree Tanner much attention when I originally read Eclipse. She was just there in the background, but after reading this novella, I can see why Stephenie would have been drawn to her story.

It is certainly interesting to see the darker side of Stephenie's vampire world. To see it through the eyes of the more "traditional" vampires, and the contrast between it and the world of the Cullens. Yet, even though it is a darker world, friendship and love still exist. It's a theme that appears throughout the series - the hope that even in darkness there is light, or a least the hope of light.

I think that if Stephenie wanted to she could create a whole series of these short novellas. There are so many characters in Twilight that I would love to read more about and see the world from their perspective. 


The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

I always found the cover art for the Twilight books interesting, and Eclipse might be my favorite one. The red ribbon symbolizes Bella's final struggle - choosing between Edward and Jacob, mortality and immortality. The threads of her life were unraveled in New Moon, and now she must choose to break the final thread - holding her to life before - or breaking the final thread and embarking on a new life altogether.

Eclipse is a close second behind Twilight as my favorite book in the series - and it is probably my favorite movie out the films. I love the action! I'm always slightly annoyed to have to re-live Bella's struggle with choosing between Edward and Jacob, because for me, her decision had already been made. This just seems like beating a dead horse, but again, I can understand why it is necessary. How the inevitability of their relationship would force all other options to be eliminated before they could truly be together forever.


As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is — Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.


Sonnet 22 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I had to memorize this poem in college...don't know what made me think of it today. Enjoy!

When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curvèd point,---what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
Be here contented? Think! In mounting higher,
The angels would press on us and aspire
To drop some golden orb of perfect song
Into our deep, dear silence. Let us stay
Rather on earth, Belovèd,---where the unfit
Contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit
A place to stand and love in for a day,
With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

As an ardent member of Team Edward, New Moon is my least favorite book out of the series. This stems only from the fact that Edward is absent for half of the book, and has nothing to do with the writing or characters. When I read New Moon I often find myself counting the pages until his return.

The first time I read the book, I was utterly dismayed at Edward's departure and became irrationally angry with Stephenie Meyer. I continued reading it only because I knew that the story could not end this way. Bella could not end up with Jacob. I even had thoughts of writing a strongly worded letter to Stephenie if Edward did not reappear...

Don't get me wrong, I like Jacob, and I could easily see how Bella (or anyone for that matter) could easily fall for him. He is a warm, caring character - a perfect match for Bella. However, when compared to Edward and Bella's love, there's just no contest for me. Edward and Bella belong together.

For me, New Moon was just one more step to reaffirming the inevitable - that Edward and Bella belonged together. I feel like it had to play out like this to dispel any thoughts of another possibility for Bella, to serve as yet another confirmation of the truth.


I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Here's one of my favorite poems from Maya Angelou. Enjoy!

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and is tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
an the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Shout Out!!

A big shout out of congratulations to my good friend Tara Lewis who has fulfilled a life long dream of publishing her own book of poetry!

Check out the following link to find out more information! You go girl!!


Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

As I took Twilight off the bookshelf, I couldn't help but smile and reminisce on how I almost missed out on this wonderful series. Back in 2008 when the movie was released, I had never heard of Edward Cullen or Bella Swan, and I had no idea who Stephenie Meyer was. I remember seeing the trailers for the movie and have to admit, despite my love of vampires, my interested was not piqued. Several weeks passed and my life went on as normal, until a friend of mine asked me if I had seen the movie.

She couldn't believe, being the vampire lover I was, that I had not seen the movie, or read the book. She had read the books and was a huge fan of the series, and she proceeded to tell me about the books and insist that I go home and give them a chance. It was her description of the characters and the story that finally turned me on to the series. I went home and sat down on my computer, and used one of my Amazon.com gift cards (a fabulous gift for any book lover by the way) to order the entire series.

While I waited for the books to arrive, I just happened to be bored one Sunday afternoon, and decided to head to the theaters to see the movie. It was towards the end of the movie's run in theaters - it was only showing on one screen and there were only like 3 showings to choose from. I have to admit, that while I didn't hate the movie, it certainly wasn't a cinematic masterpiece. I should stop and point out that I rarely enjoy a movie adaptation of a book as much as I love the book, and Twilight was no exception. I left the theater loving the idea of the story, and praying that the books turned out to be less of a disappointment.

When Twilight finally arrived at my house, I pulled it out of the box and instantly started reading. Once I began to read, I couldn't stop! I loved the story and loved Stephenie Meyer's writing style. I was instantly transported into the Twilight world and didn't want to leave. I actually read the entire series that weekend.

To think that I almost missed out entirely! I do not think that had I only seen the movie that I would have taken the time to read the books. As usual, the books are far better than the movies. In fact, I don't think one can really fully appreciate the movies without having read the books. I have seen all of the Twilight movies (and already have my tickets for Breaking Dawn!), and I know that I would not have the same connection to them without reading the books. There are so many little things that make these characters so special that do not come across on the big screen.

Now, Twilight is one of my "go to" books that I pull out when I want to escape reality for a bit and simply get lost in another world. Just goes to show...never judge a book by its movie...


Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

I have decided to re-read the Twilight Saga in anticipation of Breaking Dawn, Part I which opens this Friday, November 18th!! First up, Midnight Sun!

I wish that Stephenie Meyer would finish this. However, I can understand her reluctance to do so. Whoever leaked the story obviously doesn't understand what a true betrayal that was. As an author myself (amateur author that is) I know how personal your writing is and how difficult it is to share it, especially if you don't feel that it is perfect. To have it leaked before you are ready to share it, must have been devastating.

I loved Twilight and it is extremely interesting to me to read it from Edward's perspective. Don't get me wrong, I love Bella, but for me, Edward is the one that has a true transformation in Twilight. The transformation is clearer in Midnight Sun and reading it adds a new dimension to his character.

It moves him beyond the object of Bella's infatuation and really allows the reader to understand the struggle that he goes through.

I have always been a huge fan of vampires, and although Stephenie Meyer takes a "softer" approach to vampires, I have to admit that I am a huge fan of her writing. I am a total Twihard! Here's hoping that one day she will finish this book...

Announcing My Book Blog!

I have decided to jump on the bandwagon and start my own book blog! I'm new to this, so bear with me!