Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Title: Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Doubleday
Length: 400 pages
Genera: Romance
Subjects: Circuses, Magic, Mystery
Brief strong language including the use of the F word, a good read for young adults. Minimal violence (a stabbing) and one non-explicit sexual passages. Be warned, it is a romance novel.

The circus opens at midnight and closes dawn. It is the Le Cirque des Rêves. Their illusionist is special, for her tricks are unique. They aren't tricks, but magic.
Celia Bown and Marco Alisdair have been trained for one thing: a challenge. Unknown to them, 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. Despite everything, Celia and Marco fell head first into love.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats on the tight wires above.

Night Circus is filled with beautiful and wonderful settings and some well written characters, but romance? The romance and plot at times fell through the circus tent. The romance seemed one dimensional. Sure, the magical romance made lights flicker, but passion didn't do anything except undress the other person. It wasn't special.

There are some great characters; namely Poppet and Widget. The story has many stories (Marco + Celia; Poppet, Widget, and Bailey; Herr Friedrick Thiessen; and more), but some of them aren't that spectacular. Celia and Marco's story is probably the main one and "most important" but I felt myself drawn to the more intriguing Poppet and Widget.
Without giving too much away, Poppet and Widget's story has more of the circus in it, which happens to be the only reason I read the book (I honestly didn't realize it was a romance book until half way through the story). Marco's part was lacking, though at times Celia was entertaining.
The plot was confusing. The story jumps from year to year. A good example is:
Opening Night III: Smoke and Mirrors: London, October 13 and 14, 1886
The Hanged Man Oneiromancy: Concord, Massachusetts, October 1902
Rules of the Game: 1887–1889

Quite confusing to read an event, then to read that it hasn't even happened. I found it very nerve wracking and it took from the plot.
In some ways, the plot is drawn on and it doesn't seem to stay on course. To many sub characters that don't seem to fit in with the original plot. The sub plot Bailey/Poppet/Widget was much more entertaining than the "main" one.

What I enjoyed/didn't:
Let's start with what I loved. I loved the settings which were truly magical. I felt one with the circus at those moments. On the other hand, I felt disconnected at times. I have to go back and re-read parts or look at the title of the chapter (which happens to tell what year it is at that moment).

In conclusion:
The book had a magical feeling to it at times, but it wasn't perfect. The book had no bad scenes (if you follow me) though, which I enjoyed a lot. The writing was different, and very nice. Overall, I think this was a really good start for a fist timer.
Favorite Character: Poppet & Widget
Favorite Quote:
“Secrets have power. And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it's really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.” (Widget)

Rating: B

Friday, January 27, 2012

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

**By the way, today I am going to try a new format**

Title: The House of the Scorpion
Author: Nancy Farmer
Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
Length: 380 pages
Ages: Young Adults
Genera: Fantasy
Subjects: Dystopia, Adventure, Coming of Age
Mature themes. May be frightening for younger children/not understand concept, definitely for young adults or advanced readers.

Matteo Alacrán  wasn't born - he was harvested. Matt is a clone of a powerful lord of a country called Opium, El Patrón. Opium is a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico.
El Patrón loves his clone, for Matt is him. As Matt fights for respect, there are some that wish to kill him.

The House of the Scorpion was just wow. Wow. If this is the norm of the books I'm going to read 2012, than I'm in luck (and just wow will be part of my vocab). It is a brilliant work of art. I had not ever read a Nancy Farmer book (though twice now I rented The Sea of Trolls - but never got to it). I was very happy with this book, begging everyone I know to read it. They didn't - yet.
The "main villain" (I don't really call any of them the main villain because without even one childhood it wouldn't seem the same) is lovable, and by the time he does something bad (though you expected it), you are sad.

Matt is a kind, curious, human character. He is a child in this book, not an adult. He acts like one, and even more he makes child like mistakes. There is one beautiful scene (yet not really) were Matt makes someone do something (I won't specify...) - that a thirteen year old kid would do (chapter 11 - The Giving and Taking of Gifts).
The "villains" were also human. Even the minor-est villains made you hate them and when something bad happens to them you are happy, yet sad for maybe, just maybe they didn't deserve it. A certain Rosa is a good example.

It begins... slowly, but that really builds everything up. It isn't a fast paced book. [Some of] the surprises are expected which slights takes away from the main story line. I guessed about 75% of them, but the author left many clues (probably wanting you to find some of them). The big surprise as a 50/50 surprise, for I guessed who the bad person was yet not what he was going to do - but then again there were lots of clues so if I tried harder, I could have guessed it.

What I enjoyed/didn't:
The was no cussing other than 1 or 2 c and 3 or 4 d, though this was a young adult book. Often, the author will add too much cussing just to make it a young adult book. This book was young adult for themes, not cussing/romance/ect.
The story was realistic because *spoiler* El Patrón is the leader of the Opium fields, yet he isn’t a nice guy as Matt thinks.*/spoiler*
I didn't like Matt's childish reaction to Tom, even though Matt is a child (chapter 10. A Cat with Nine Lives). I felt it was just wrong, though I reward the author for such a realistic chapter. This dislike is more of a personal moral dislike than an actual critism of the book/chapter. 

In conclusion:
The writing was entertaining and easy to read at times, but hard to read at others. I was recently looking around and found Nancy's blog (or some poser I guess). According to my source, she is writing a sequel. The ending left me hanging, but I don't know if I really want "another book". I will read her other books once I get them. Her books are well written. Another good change, from the Twilights and Hunger Games, is that this book has a good and clear moral. I recommend it to mature audiences, Mature 12/13 up.

Favorite Scene & Character: My favorite character is Tam Lin. My favorite scene is actually a part - the first.
Favorite Quote: "What Matt hated about the creature was everyone’s assumption that he and Furball were the same. It didn’t matter that Matt had excellent grades and good manners. They were both animals and thus unimportant." (Narrator)
Recommend: Yeah!
Rating: A+

Saturday, January 21, 2012

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title: 13 Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Publisher: New York: Rasorbill
Length: 288 pages
Ages: Young Adults
Genera: Realistic Fiction:
Subjects: Suicide, depression, high school
Suicide, rape (non-explicit), some characters are very iffy, cussing

There are seven cassette tapes, thirteen stories, a Walkman, and one night to hear them all. Hannah Baker committed suicide, these tapes are the truth. Truth to why she decided to commit suicide and what pushed her towards the pills.
Clay Jenson receives the tapes one after school day. He pops them into the CD player and played it.

"Hello boys and girls. Hannah Baker here. Live and in stereo."

Clay is sucked into the 13 sides, wondering where he comes in this depressing tale. He will find out soon enough...

13 Reasons Why is not a book for everyone. Though I enjoyed it very much, I do see how people are disturbed by it. Even though Ms. Baker was depressed, you can see how she was depressed and blamed others for not helping her. In this point of view, it doesn't send the right message to impressionable young teens, be they female or male.
But, if you think about it from another point, it could send a good message. Perhaps the message was that is important to know how you are treating someone and how it is affecting them. It is important to help those in need.

Hannah Baker was a depressed teen, who I don't think anyone should look up to her. She stood by when someone was raped, though she knew it was wrong. She didn't know how horrible the results of the knocking down of the sign, but she knew she should call 911. She didn't.
Clay wasn't exactly a person to look up to either. I sympathised with him (how hard would it be on you to hear the last public words of a dead girl?), but never liked him particularly as a character. He wasn't anything special, no outstanding qualities except for his... humanity I guess. I enjoy human characters, and I don't mean Bella (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse) human.
The 13 Reasons are quite despicable, even if they don't mean it directly. My some of my favorite (and by favorite I mean least) Reasons are Alex Standall, Courtney Crimsen, and Marcus Cooley. I shiver in the thought of them.
The thirteenth reason felt unnecessary, I don't think a shrink should be blamed for his poor advice.
The characters lost this book a star.

The plot is very intriguing and quite original. The cassette idea is original and I love that. According to the author, he decided to use an already dated form, and have the characters realize this, to make the book timeless. He did quite well.
It began with mystery and it's body was filled with mystery, and it ends clear. The ending it very satisfying, though I forgot who the girl at the end is. It's sort of embarrassing. I'll probably rent (or buy) it again, to clear that up.
A lot of Clay's movements were unneeded. Reading him taking a sip of coffee in the middle of Hannah's narration messes up the flow of things.

What I enjoyed/didn't:
I enjoyed all the interlocking stories, as I always do. Once you finish one side, you can guess the next one. Or sometimes, I didn't. My top favorite one has to be the fourth reason, probably because that was the only one that gave me the shivers. Let me give you a hint: a peeping Tom.
As I said, this book could give the wrong messages, which isn't a pro. The rape felt unnecessary, and I didn't enjoy reading it.

In conclusion:
The writing was unique and well thought out. The characters weren't my favorite. As I said earlier, the flow of writing was disturbed by Clay's reactions. Some, like a gasp or a few thoughts on the previous passage, added another dimension to the writing, but a lot fell flat. For those looking for a story that makes you think, 13 Reasons Why is a good choice.

Favorite Side & Character: I have no favorite character. My favorite side is #4.
Favorite Quote: “You can't stop the future, You can't rewind the past, The only way to the learn the secret... is to press play.” (Hannah Baker)
Recommend?: Not to everyone.

Rating: B

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Upcoming Reviews

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer - blog link
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher - blog link
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - blog link

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Title: Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Ages: Young Adults
Length: 412
Genera: Fiction
Subjects: Boarding School, Mystery, Two Stories
This book is NOT suitable for all ages. Sex (not explicit), cussing, and drugs (not used directly).

When Taylor Markham was eleven, her mother abandoned her at a Seven Eleven, hundreds of miles from home. Now, she is seventeen and the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, Jellicoe School.
The Townies, from the town (duh), The Cadets, city kids doing a six-week outdoor education program, and the Jellicoe School students have engaged in war in the Australian countryside, defending territorial borders, negotiating for assets, and even taking hostages.
Meanwhile, Taylor's confidant and only parental figure goes missing and someone from her past comes back. Taylor must find the connection between her mother dumping her, Hannah finding her (and her mysterious disappearance); the boy from her dreams, the five kids who lived here long ago, and Jonah Griggs.

Rating: A+
My mother once told me that there are three main types of books, and that they can be classified like meats. Hamburger, Sirloin steak, and then Fillet Mignon. Jellicoe Road is fillet Mignon.
About 3/4 through the book, I was going to give this book 4 or 4 ½ (because of the beginning). After finishing it, I knew that I couldn't give it that low of a score.
Jellicoe Road is a beautiful book, but I don't know how I am going to do this review. I cannot express it.
The first 100 pages are extremely slow. I didn't think I would be able to finish it. What took me a while figure out is that there are two interlocking stories. Once the stories start to relate, that's when the story takes off.
Jellicoe Road has some romance (just enough to be delectable). The characters are just amazingly created. The mystery is so good. I did guess some of it though, but a lot of it blew me away. The "war" was a big aspect of the story, but I am glad to say it was not the entire book. The book is not really a mystery either. It is a book about love, loss, death, and acceptance. There word I need to use to describe is: favorite.

In all, I can't recommend it to everyone. Some people just can't appreciate this because it does need a lot of patience to read it. I recommend reading it at least twice.

- Rogue

8th book review

Friday, January 6, 2012

Cascade by Lisa T. Bergren

Title: Cascade
Series: River of Time (bk 2)
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Ages: Young Adults - 14+
Genera: Fiction
Subjects:  Time Travel, Romance, Medieval Times, Sequels
Some romance, cussing, and mature topics. At one point the main character thinks she will be raped, which she won't be.

Gabi has left her heart in the fifteenth century, she has to go back. Soon, she convinces Lia to go back - but this time they have a passenger. Their mother comes with them to Italy! When they come back to the fifteenth century, it turns out it has been many weeks since she left and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead.
Now, Gabi has to decide whether to leave her family behind or leave her heart behind.

Rating: B+
Actually, I read this book before the first one and loved it. After reading the second one, I can safely say that this sequel does not disappoint. In fact, I think I like this one better than the first.
What are the components of this book? You need to take a sprinkle of history, a quart of action, and a cup of romance.
The only bad thing that I can think of is probably how much Marcello is so... clingy and protective. This is the major reason why I couldn't give it a five star. In this book, it's not as bad as the third book and first. It says:
"...which the plucky heroine doesn’t have to fear a vampire’s bite but must still fight for her life."
- Shelfari
Well, guess what. Edward has changed form - to Marcello. This is definitely a draw back. But at least, Gabi realizes it to an extent. I remember she says something about how she didn't ask for a protective parental figure, but a boy friend. Well, c'est la vie. Luca still is my favorite boy.
Gabi is still awesome and kick butt as ever. She is such a great character.

Over all, this is a great sequel to Waterfall! The final book's review should be ready soon.

- Rogue

7th book review - OMG already seven reviews!

Extra Cover Review:
I love this cover! The girl, probably Gabi, is so pretty! The backround is probably Siena.