Tag Archives: great book

Book Review: The Night Circus

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Book: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Recommend: If you only read one book this year, make it this one.

I was reluctant to read this. I waited until the day before it was due back at the library to pick it up. I find it hard to read books about the circus. There is something so foreign, strange and desperate about it all. This book however, takes the idea to a level of surrealism that makes it feel like a grown up dark fairy tale. The author balances a complex, delicate story which could so easily unravel with a level of mastery I have rarely read. The images this book brought to my mind will stick with me for a very long time.

This tells the story of two children who are used as pawns in a competition for the amusement of old men. The game is magic and the stage is an elaborate circus that only runs at night. Unknown to each other, they compete, creating wonder after wonder, all the time wondering when it will finally end.

This story in the hands of almost anyone else would have been a disaster. This author however knew exactly what to say and what to hold back from the read. How to skate the line of believability without crossing it. How to create an ensemble of characters that worked well together, each rich in their own right without competing with each other for dominance.

I would LOVE to see this on film but I would only want to see it done by the right people.

Wonderfully written and amazing to read, the moment I closed the book, I almost ran to buy a copy for my nook.

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!


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Filed under general fiction, Review, Sci-Fi/ Fantasy

Another Look at Harold Fry’s Unplanned Adventure

Book:  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Author:  Rachel Joyce

Recommend:  This is a great vicarious read for those who love to walk, talk out loud to themselves and long for the great outdoors.  I takes a common man and shows us his personal struggles in an uncommonly insightful way.  Also, for anyone who cannot tolerate exposure to the sun, this book offers a virtual adventure along side the determined steps of a humble man’s solitary pilgrimage.

Setting out to run a simple errand, Harold Fry takes himself and the reader on a journey he did not chart nor plan for.  Ill shod and unprepared for his spontaneous trip, Harold suddenly summons the inner courage to step outside the known and venture out on a desperate quest he hopes will save a dying friend.  His persistence and plodding progress toward his goal become at times the end in its self, as his self-doubt and uncertainty battle against his desire to finish what he started, and somehow find a way to set his personal world right again.

The map of Harold’s journey

Haunted by the demons of his imperfect past, Harold finds faith and trust in the people he meets to overcome his many fears.  With each step, Harold finds a little more of himself, and learns to accept truths he has long buried and avoided.  He slowly rebuilds a dawning comprehension of primal values he once abandoned in response to the painful events his life.  I found this book especially enjoyable as I walked with Harold through its pages.  I trekked for hours down roads I could never personally walk, borrowing his perspective and the author’s imagination, I shared his steps and the reawakening of his heart and soul.

As a lupus patient, my auto-immunity makes me extremely photosensitive.  Lamenting my own ability to stand or walk in beloved sun light more than ten or fifteen minutes without aggravating my lupus, the idea of taking a much longed-for hike is especially welcome!

I strolled for miles next to Harold down winding paths through the rolling English countryside, and listened with him as he relished the voice each new bird’s song or echoing barking dog heard in the distance.  I shivered with him as the dank night air chilled his bony frame and dampness made him cower in the dark.  I encouraged him as he slogged through the rain, and quietly shouted hurray for him a hundred times over, as he grasped for each new ounce of strength to help him press on just a little bit farther toward his ambitious goal.

I felt as if my presence at his side somehow helped him.  I was the companion who understood his purpose when other companions failed to grasp his intent.  He trusted me with his true thoughts.

Rachel Joyce

Joyce spins her tale with skill, as she helps us understand the inner workings of Harold Fry through his winsome honesty, and artfully and patiently unveils the identity and humanness of the secondary cast of characters and walking companions.  His wife and son, Maureen and David, their neighbor Rex, a host of others, and lastly Harold’s friend that we finally meet at journey’s end, all become real and engaging.  Joyce paints a colorful host of interesting souls who are woven into the tapestry of Mr. Fry’s daunting hiking adventure. Joyce stands a great chance of gaining a stance beside two of my favorite authors, John Hershey and E.B. White.

Setting out to the mail box to post a letter will never be quite the same again!

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Filed under general fiction, Review

Book Review: The Help

Cover of "The Help"

Book: The Help

Author: Kathryn Stockett

Recommend: No question about it. This one is an instant classic.

I’ve been hearing about this book for ages it seems. Everyone was shocked when they found out that I hadn’t read it yet. Sometimes when a book is so insanely popular, I tend to avoid it. I think it might be a bit of latent teen rebellion that’s not quite worked through my system yet. I actually am glad that I waited to read it. If I had read it when the movie came out, I know I would have been pressured to go see the movie and as much as I loved the book, I just have no desire to see the movie. I just think I would be terribly disappointed by it.

I loved this one. It tells a great story without going to one extreme or the other. Sometimes, books about racial conflict can be extremely biased. This one felt honest. Instead of taking a side, it seemed to simply share both sides of the conflict. I also love that this isn’t about the center of the civil rights movement and that there isn’t some HUGE and seemingly instant resolution.In real life, prejudice doesn’t disappear instantaneously. It is a slow progression until one day someone realizes that they have reached the end of a journey they didn’t even realize they had started.

If you haven’t picked it up yet, what are you waiting for?

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Filed under 2012, general fiction, historical fiction, Review, Summer book challenge

Book Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Book: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Author: Rachel Joyce

Recommend: Such an amazing read. Anyone would find this one amazing.

I got this one in the mail a few weeks ago. I honestly wasn’t really excited about it. I pulled a few others of the ARC stack before I finally decided to buckle down and start it. The idea of reading a book about a recently retired man who had worked in a brewery for most of his adult life didn’t seem interesting. From the description, he seemed as dry as toast and just as interesting. I opened the book expecting to be completely disappointed.

I was pleasantly surprised that I was quickly engaged and was disappointed when I had to put the book down for dinner. I picked it up to see if I could get a bit further before bed and before I knew it, it was 3am and I had finished it. Harold Fry is bored. He is recently retired and has nothing to do with his life. His wife is distant and his son is never there. Then he gets a letter from Queenie, a woman he had worked with at the brewery and finds out that she is dying of cancer. He walks to mail a letter to her but his letter just seems completely inadequate. He walks to the next mailbox and the next. This starts a walk that spans over five hundred miles along the roads of England. A journey that will changed Harold and everyone he touches.

I loved this book. It was simple yet profound and the characters pulled the reader in. Harold was very easy to connect with. The way the author revealed more about his life in layers, letting the reader get to know him piece by piece made the story telling technique very effective.  The well-read will see the influence of the author’s favorite writers through the text in a positive way. It is one of the best examples of good writers being heavy readers I have seen in quite some time.

This is a book that will keep you thinking and want to pick up again.

Final Rating:

Need more than one copy!!

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Filed under 2012, general fiction, Review, Summer book challenge

Book Review: Bag of Bones

Cover of "Bag of Bones"

Book: Bag of Bones

Author: Stephen King

Recommend: I am a glutton for punishment but most of the book was fantastic..

I cringed when I picked this one up. I have a love hate relationship with King’s writing. I love about 75 to 80 percent of almost everything I’ve read. I hate the last quarter. He can never end a book in the way I want it to end. I think the most spectacular example of this is Under the Dome but I digress.

I really loved the first 75% of this book. I loved the main character. He was compelling in a way only a couple of King’s characters are. Everything in me wanted everything to work out for this writer. After the death of his wife, he never really recovered. Then he finally went back to their summer lake house, where almost immediately, Mike knew that something strange was going on with his house. There was something else there – something not quite alive but not completely gone either.

I loved the book.  I honestly thing one of the best things about this book is the large amount of references to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, a great book. Through those references, it gave the readers an idea of where the story was headed, although it is obviously not the same. If it had been, it would have had a better ending!!

The main character was enough of a skeptic to be believable but not so much that it hindered the storyline. As great as Mike was, little Ki and her mother Mattie made the book. I cant’ say much more about it, without giving away too much. I think this basically goes without saying, but just in case you haven’t read a Stephen King book there is a fair amount of adult content in the book. I definitely did some skipping in certain places, however it was the kind that is at least somewhat important to the plot.

Now I really want to see the A&E special based on the book. I just hope the ending is better than the book.

Final Rating:

Get it new!

Buy it new 🙂

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Filed under 2012, mature themes and subject matter, Review, Summer book challenge, thriller/horror