Showing posts with label erin morgenstern. Show all posts
Showing posts with label erin morgenstern. Show all posts

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Book(s) of Love (or, It's Our Anniversary!)

Happy Sunday, readers!  FYI, this is not just any old Sunday.  It's also the 6th wedding anniversary for me and my darling husband.  WOOHOO!  I told him a few weeks ago that this means we only have 1 year left until the 7-year itch.  He was not amused.  Apparently 6 years has not been enough time for me to improve my joke delivery?
Walking off into the sunset. He had no idea what he was getting into. MUWAHAHA!
We are spending this year's anniversary FINALLY moving into our house (HOORAY!), but in the meantime, I had to do a little post here to commemorate the big day.

Fun fact: our first dance at the wedding was to The Book of Love, by Peter Gabriel.  We had the hardest time picking a song, and then my friend Jennie had me listen to this one.  Hubs and I immediately got tears in our eyes the first time we heard it.  I guess that's how you know you found your wedding song: when it makes you burst into mushy, girly tears, even though you are very rarely prone to mushy, girly tears.
Other than just being OUR song, it's also cool because it's a little bookish, right?  So in honor of today, here's a quick list of some of my favorite "books of love"...not necessarily in the romance genre, but novels that make even my not-usually-sappy heart swoon.

1. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Easily my all-time favorite book.  Potentially one of the most unusual love stories out there (given the whole, you know, time traveling thing) but if there was ever a "let's overcome some crazy obstacles to be together" story, this is it.

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

You can check out my full review of this one here, but Celia and Marco have one of the most awesome (and visually the imagery!) literary romances ever.

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Granted, Heathcliff and Catherine basically want to kill each other for most of this book, but that's probably why I love it so much.  What fun is a sappy romance when you can watch the two lovers try to annoy the crap out of each other first?  (mini-review here)

4. What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson

The book made me cry.  Then I watched the movie and that made me cry too.  A couple is separated when the husband dies in a tragic accident, and they discover what must be done to reunite themselves in eternity.  Such a cool concept and SO SAD but worth the tears.

5. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Okay, I'll give Nicholas Sparks ONE shout out here.  The Notebook is not an amazeballs book by any means, but it is really sappy and swoon-worthy.  Paired with the movie it has to be noted as a good romance, even if you're not typically a Sparks fan.

6. PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

This isn't really a romance, since the main character's husband dies in the beginning and she must spend the rest of the novel trying to rediscover her life.  But she does that through the letters her husband left behind, and that alone is enough to make you say "awwwwwwwwww" over and over.  PS, the book is better than the movie.

What are YOUR favorite "books of love"?

Monday, April 1, 2013

A happy camper again: March 2013 in review

March: in like a lion, out like a lamb.  BAAAAAAAAAAA.
Nothing like a little sheep humor to start your morning.
You probably remember that I had a rather terrible February.  So March didn't start on the highest of notes.  But I am happy to say, it did improve.  Even though we battled some colds in our house, the illness seems to be mostly gone (knock on wood), the snow is melting, the birds are chirping...SWEET JESUS, it's springtime!  FINALLY!

Not to mention that Small Fry was rather adorable this weekend, hunting for Easter eggs with us outside:

Overall, I am just feeling VERY excited for the warm weather to roll in, which of course means more time to read OUTSIDE, in the sun.  Woot!

The March 2013 Fave/Least Fave honors were hard to choose this month (especially for Favorite)...I read a lot of good books!  The honors go to:

March 2013 Favorite:  The Storyteller  by Jodi Picoult
March 2013 Least Favorite:  The Four Ms. Bradwells  by Meg Waite Clayton

In total, I read/reviewed 7 books:
Be Happy Without Being Perfect by Dr. Alice Domar
The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton
The Trajectory of Dreams by Nicole Wolverton
I'll Take What She Has by Samantha Wilde
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
Evil Water by Inger Wolf

Plus one review of a past read:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I also posted one new Small Fry Saturday Review of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault.

In other book talk, I recapped my epic meeting with Jodi Picoult, I told you why modern women's fiction is my jam, we talked about my beef with Hollywood, this place got a facelift, we Bloggiesta'd, I introduced you to Alexis, and I got drugged by a librarian.  Busy freakin' month.

Here's to springtime!  Hope you all have a fabulous April.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library (e-copy)

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called  Le Cirque des RĂªves , and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst 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 themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

My Review:

You may remember that I mentioned this book as one of my favorites of 2012.  However, I had no review to share at the time, because I read it before I started the blog.  I decided that needed to be remedied, so I put together a brief review of The Night Circus because I want to make sure I properly share its awesomeness with the world.

I ADORED this book. Which is funny, because it falls into a million categories for things I would normally NOT enjoy about a novel. For starters, it's about magic. **side eye**  And, there's a cartoony-looking circus depicted on the cover. (Remember, I even mentioned this in my Cover Snobbery post??)  AND, it has a pretty strong romance/love story as a defining plot line, which is not my usual cup of tea.

Guess what?  IT DOESN'T MATTER! This book 100% illustrates the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover". I think the writing is part of what did it for me. It's beautiful and descriptive without being too flowy or verbose. And it's concise without being brusque. Morgenstern makes the circus (a complex and very VISIBLE character in the novel) come alive in your mind.  If she hadn't taken the time to carefully craft the words to do this, the book wouldn't be even half of what it is.  I can't remember the last time I read a novel where I could call myself a happy customer just based on the writing style alone. The characters, the ending, the plot movement: they could have sucked (even though they didn't), and I would still have been impressed by the writing.

Plus, the love story is so well done. I, the anti-romance-novel reader, have never gotten behind the love of two characters like I did with Celia and Marco.   And I think the fact that their romance was part of this big, darker "challenge" helped a lot. It was romance with a purpose, not a romance for fluff's sake.

This is getting gushy.  The point is: the plot moves along. There are excellent twists at just the right times. Overall, great reading, and totally deserving of a place on my Faves list...even though I did not expect to feel that way when I initially judged the cover.

Other reviews of The Night Circus:
Book Hooked
Leeswammes' Blog
A Cup of Coffee and A Book

Have you read The Night Circus?  Fave or flop for you?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cover Snobbery

Everyone always says "don't judge a book by its cover."  Which I think is great advice...for everything except books.

Yes, I try not to be judgmental of others based on appearances.  If everyone judged me by MY cover, I would not have had any friends when I was between the ages of 8 and 14.  Truth.
At the age of 9, the Well-Read Redhead enjoyed perms, florescent Disney t-shirts, and coke bottle glasses.  Not pictured: scoliosis back brace.
Friends' faces blurred to hide their embarrassment.
But throw an unappealing book cover in front of me, and unless someone can make a pretty strong case for it, you can bet I'm picking up something else to read.

A couple months back, I read a post by Melissa at the Harley Bear Book Blog that addressed this very conundrum.  Popular books that she had no desire to read, because the covers didn't strike her fancy.  I feel this way ALL THE TIME.  It's amazing what a bad cover can do for first impressions.

That's not to say I don't make exceptions--I do, and I'm often glad for it.  My favorite example of this is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  The #1 reason it took me so long to read it is because I disliked the cover--it felt cartoonish and too...magicky.  And then it ended up being one of my top books of 2012.  Moral of the story: exceptions are necessary, but the judging still happens.

So, what cover elements are the biggest turnoffs for me?

1. Any movie-inspired cover

Whenever a book is offered with either its original cover or its Hollywoodized version, I always go for the original.  I feel like the movie covers "cheapen" the appearance, for lack of a better word.  This is probably because I often think the book is 1000 times better than the movie, anyway.

2. The author's name is bigger than the title

Unfortunately, I see this trend more and more these days, and it is a serious pet peeve of mine.  Big-name authors often have their name blown up bigger than the title on the front cover.  I'm sure it helps with book sales (if you have a large following, some people don't care what the book's about--just that YOU wrote it), but as a reader, it annoys me.  The book is about the plot, not about the author.  (And yes, I know two of my faves--Stephen King and Jodi Picoult--are top offenders here.)

3. Poorly/awkwardly Photoshopped

Pertains to approximately 95% of all the self-published covers I've ever seen.  I understand the design budget is smaller, but...really?  There are some really well-done self-published covers too (The Thief of Auschwitz and Bluff are two of them) so you can't use that as an excuse.

4. Too intricate

If there's too many details on a cover, it turns me off.  I want to take one quick look and get some idea of where the book is going, or a mystery that might be revealed.  I don't want to have to pull out my magnifying glass to figure it out.

5. Too cutesy

Even if it's YA, I don't necessarily want to feel like I'm reading an after school special.

So readers, what cover elements do YOU shy away from?  And please feel free to share awkward photos of your younger selves.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2012

I know there's still technically 2-ish weeks of the year left, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I've waited long enough to announce my...
Now you still have 10 days to buy them before Christmas!  WINNING!

It is always so hard for me to look back on a year's worth of reading, and narrow it down to just a few favorites.  I start with a list of eleventy billion great books, and I swear that I will never be able to cut any of them from the list.  After many tears, I get it down to maybe 20, then 15, and finally 10.  And I did it.  I DID IT FOR YOU.  You're welcome, world.

So without further ado!

I will start with the two books that were, far and away, the best things I read this year.  FAR. AND. AWAY.  I cannot choose between the two.  They were:

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

These two books blew my mind, for entirely different reasons.  Gone Girl is probably the best psychological thriller I've read in the history of ever.  The Night Circus has some of the most outstanding writing and detail work I've seen, along with a romance that draws in even the most mush-resistant reader (ME).  Unfortunately for you, I read The Night Circus before I started blogging, but you can read my gushing review of Gone Girl here.

After those two, here are the other 8 that made the cut, in no particular order.  (I included links to my reviews for any that I read after starting the blog.)

3. Girls In White Dresses by Jennifer Close

Chick-lit with wry, deadpan humor?  Yes.  More of this please.  Perfect for the late 20s/early 30s set.

4. 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King

Finally got around to reading this masterpiece.  Worth every page.  Furthered my already-existing King love.

5. Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Deeply heartbreaking, but the writing is beautiful.

6. Gold by Chris Cleave

Phenomenal character development, unpredictable twists, and the Olympics!  TRIFECTA!

7. The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond

A frightening premise (child abduction) told from a unique perspective.  Richmond does a great job exploring the relationships between her characters.

8. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

(Kind of) dystopian, (kind of) romance, (definitely) raises tons of sociological/cultural questions.  Great twist at the end.  I'm dying to see the movie now.

9. The Light of Amsterdam by David Park

I know, I didn't pick this as my best book of November, and the book that did get picked isn't on this list.  What can I say?  It's books, not a math equation.  A month later, this book is sticking in my mind longer than most.  The setting and the characters are just so well done.

10. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

My one non-fiction pick of the year.  Jenny Lawson is hilarious, and so is her book.  She makes me want to taunt my husband with a yardful of metal chickens.

That's all she wrote, 2012!

What were your favorites this year?  What should I add to my MUST READ list for 2013?
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