Book Review – The Night Circus

Title: The Night Circus51nLN7yvmnL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Genre: Fantasy, fiction, romance, magic

Pages: 512

First Published: September 2011

Series: standalone

Rating:  star_rating_4_of_5

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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 Rêves, 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 both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

line_breakMy Review:

Another really, awesome book!! At the moment, I’m just reading good book after good book, so there’s not going to be any bad reviews for a while. Which is good! Who doesn’t love a great read? Let’s get on with why The Night Circus is a great book…

The best thing about The Night Circus is the incredible world the author has created – as well as the characters she’s added into it. There is SO MUCH world building that has gone into creating it, and because of it, it makes the whole story feel less cheap, and more real, or 3D. And it’s not just the setting either! The plot line, atmosphere, and down to the smallest events that occur, are all sorted perfectly to create the book. That’s what makes the complication, and then resolution, so perfect. It’s like Morgenstern has the whole thing mapped out in her head, so when she needs to chop and change between past, present and future, it’s all already there.

The Night Circus does include many POVs, some in the same time period, while others are flashbacks, or are in the future. Now this feature could have made the book really messy, and hard to follow, but because it was so well planned out, it actually made sense. (There were parts that were a little unclear, but they soon made sense if you kept reading) The further into the book I went, more bits kept jumping out at me, and then clicked into place, until right at the end with the climax, and it all came together.

Okay, okay, I need to stop talking about planning. What about the characters? Celia and Marco were perfect I think, and each of the background characters had their perks. I think the only let-down would be too many. Between having plot-lines in the past, present and future, there were quite a number of people involved in this story. This is what made it a bit hard to follow at times.

Another perk; strong female characters! Yay! I love books that include them, and The Night Circus doesn’t just have one main, but also all the female side characters are strong and can make their own decisions. I really just love reading from their point of view, or about them.

“Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case.”
― Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus

Okay, to sum up. The story takes a while to get into the ‘real’ plot-line, but once it does, it is impossible to put down. As I was reading it, I kept noticing the symmetry between it, and The Prestige movie. Both have two magicians, duelling over many, many years, while still trying to live their lives as normal as possible. (And, at the back of my copy of The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern actually says one of her inspirations for the book was The Prestige, so there you go.) I found the story really interesting, and fun to read about. Similar setting to Caraval if you liked that.

 “We lead strange lives, chasing our dreams around from place to place.”
― Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus

Book Review – Flame in the Mist

Title:  Flame in the Mist23308087.jpg

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Genre: Fantasy, YA, romance, historical, retelling, fiction

Pages: 393

First Published: May 2017

Series: Flame in the Mist #1

Rating: star_rating_4_of_5

line_break.pngThe only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.

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My Review:

I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t no Strange the Dreamer or The Book Thief  but, it was good. Very good. I enjoyed reading it immensely, and think most people would as well.

For me, I wasn’t into it in the beginning. I was actually almost about to put it down and just give up, when something finally happened, and I was drawn back in. So, after my initial doubts, I kept getting surprised, and found myself running back to it, and staying up to finish ‘one more chapter’. These are usually the signs of a good book for me, and so while I wasn’t sure at first, I think I’ve got to give it 4 stars.

Somehow, after reading reviews and the blurb, I still didn’t realise it was a Mulan retelling, set in the wonderful world of feudal Japan. (In case you didn’t know either, there you go 🙂 ) And it was wonderful. I didn’t realise how much I enjoy books set in foreign countries. Usually its the US, England, or home-sweet-home Australia, and I really liked the change of scenery. It was just different. So many little references that add to the story-building, and atmosphere, that I usually miss because they’re common place in English-speaking countries. So that was one reason.

Also because it’s got action, fighting, magic, badass females, multiple storylines and a 3D plot. You know, all of those reasons. It just had everything. (Well. Mostly. I’ll talk about that later) What lifted it up from average to better, is definitely its many parts. If it was contained to just the one plot line, with the one main group of characters, then I really could only have given it 3 stars. But, it featured the main group, it had two families connected to that, the royals, and then people related to the Royals, and they all interrelated! That is what made it so much better. There were so many little links and possibilities spiralling off in my head while I was reading, and at the end, most of them came together, leaving me wanting the next book immediately. It was written really well.

Saying all this, you might be wondering how it’s not 5 stars. It’s actually kind of confusing me as well. But most of this review applies only for most of the book. The first couple of chapters, where I was a bit iffy, was not written well. It annoyed me, almost to the point of putting down the book, (lucky I kept going, because it got a lot better), because there was nothing interesting happening. Yes, there was an execution. Who was everyone? I had no connection with any of the characters, so it didn’t do anything for me. Next thing: change in character. She gets ambushed and is the only survivor, what a surprise. (don’t worry it’s not a spoiler, I wouldn’t do that to you. It says it on the blurb) She continues into a dark, mysterious forest, and thinks someone’s following her. It’s just all so ordinary. Only when she meets the next group of characters, there’s a spark, and it gets better from there.

So, aside from boring, heard-it-all-before beginning, great book! Would definitely recommend, and my advice: Don’t give up on it!!

Happy Reading!

Book Review – Strange The Dreamer

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Title: Strange the Dreamer

Author: Laini Taylor

Genre: Fantasy, fiction, romance, magic, YA

Pages: 544

First Published: March 2017


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My Review:

I don’t believe I can fault this book. It was that good. Seriously, it blew my mind, how I could not find a single thing wrong with it. Usually, I am quite harsh with my reviews, but this book… It was so good. Great. Amazing. Spectacular! And the cover is gorgeous as well.

So. We have two main characters; Lazlo and Sarai, though there are many others that are just as good. The book is told through both their perspectives, and I loved the way they mirrored each other. There was never a time when I wanted to skip this chapter, and just move back to the other one’s POV. No. They told the exact amount that was needed to be able to finish the chapter. So that was good.

Another biggie: Characters and world building. Oh they were amazing! Taylor wrote the characters so perfectly, that each of their feelings and emotions and actions felt justified and done with good reason. She shows us enough bask-story, that one little action taken by this one little character, elicits sympathy for them, while another action taken by another character makes us hate them. They didn’t seem real, but to be fair, some of them were blue-skinned goddesses living in the sky. You’d have to be a terrific author to make that seem real. There was no over-doing it, and no under-doing it. It was just perfect. That was the other thing. You know how in some books, there’s just too much description, and not enough action (or vice versa)? And while the description is good, great even, it just needs more? Strange the Dreamer was not like that at all. World building was awesome, and there was a plot. Characters looked good, but also had feelings. It was just so well balanced!

Okay. Time for the big reason. Storyline. I don’t know where this idea came from, and have no idea how it could occur to any normal person, but the plot was amazing. And original for once! It’s quite rare that you read a story and have never read anything like it before. It was such a good idea. The many aspects occurring all at once made it seem much more 3D, and the ending… it killed me, but it was right at the same time. And of course made me want the next book RIGHT NOW. Please. I need it. I wasn’t sure how it was going to end, and was re-assuring myself that it couldn’t be too bad because there was a second book, when BAM! Ending. In my face. The last chapter was written so well and cleverly that it concluded the book, opened up a path for the next one, and again drove home the defining features of all the characters. (One in particular I now hate even more 😦 )

If I had to find one teensy-weensy little problem, I would say that it took a little while to get into the story. I wasn’t addicted to it at first, as much as I was at the end. But that doesn’t really matter. All books are like that. Another thing I really really like are the titles, both Book 1, and Book 2. The two main characters Lazlo and Sarai, will hopefully continue into the second book, and so the titles are mirroring them. Strange the Dreamer, is Lazlo’s other name, and the second book, titled Muse of Nightmares, is Sarai’s nickname. I don’t know why, I just find that really nice. Just the contrast between the two, dreamer, and nightmares. Again, the two characters are mirroring each other.

“It was impossible, of course. But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming.”
Laini TaylorStrange the Dreamer


June Wrap Up

Half way through the year everybody!! Hope it’s been good so far. I believe June has been one of my best months for books and reading this year. What about you? The start of holidays meant I had more spare time, though I was away for a week. That didn’t stop me from reading though! The Lifeline Bookfest was also on, meaning lots of books were bought, but we only just managed to fit them all on the bookshelves. Running out of space quickly…
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Well, without any further ado, let’s get onto the wrap-up:

Hmmmm, let’s see… I read a grand total of 7 books last month. Aaaaaaand, I reviewed none of them. As you can see, I have been very productive. Over the next week, I should get some done though, and finally catch up.

Books Read:

  • Talon (Julie Kagawa)
  • Beautiful Broken Things (Sara Barnard)
  • The Witch’s Daughter (Paula Brackston)
  • The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)
  • Remind Me How This Ends (Gabrielle Tozer)
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses (Sarah J Maas)
  • A Court of Mist and Fury (Sarah J Maas)

I just realised that I read none of my own books… they’re all either from the school or local library. I think that borrowing books, and therefore having a time-limit on when to read them, makes me read a bit quicker.


Well, after two trips to the library, a second hand bookstore, online shopping, and the bookfest, I have another large Haul for June. I won’t go into detail about all of them, but some of my favourites that I’ve been looking for, for ages, are:

  • Red Queen (Victoria Aveyard)
  • Angelfall (Susan Ee)
  • World After (Susan Ee)
  • After You (Jojo Moyes)
  • Go Set a Watchmen (Harper Lee)
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor)
  • Talon (Julie Kagawa)
  • The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)
  • The Girl with all the Gifts (Mike Carey)
  • Hogwarts Library Boxset
  • The Farseer Trilogy (Robin Hobb)
  • Fool’s Errand (Robin Hobb)

So there we go. I’ve already been back to the library in July, and borrowed a couple more so my TBR list this month consists of:

  • Lord of Shadows (Finally!)
  • Strange the Dreamer
  • Rebel of the Sands
  • Flame in the Mist
  • The Wrath and the Dawn
  • and any other books that I find along the way!

See any of your favourites listed here? Or tell me what you’re planning on reading this July? I also love hearing what other people have to say about books, so don’t hesitate to comment and converse!

My Favourite First Lines

If you’ve ever finished a story-writing unit in English, than you most likely would have heard of the ‘Sizzling Start!” I know I definitely have. It’s been drilled in over and over, year after year, and while it does begin to get a little repetitive, it is, of course, very valuable advice. How many times have you started a book, knowing nothing about it, but never finishing it just because its opening wasn’t good enough? A few times? Yeah me too. But let’s not look at the bad ones. (Maybe that can be another post. My english teacher once read out some examples of stories from past students of his, that he found were both terrible and hilarious. I might have to go find some…) Here are some of my favourite first lines (in no particular order) I’ve either read myself, or heard of:


“Ironically, since the attacks, the sunsets have been glorious.”
Angelfall by Susan Ee

The Angelfall books are quite good, very interesting, (a bit underrated if you ask me), and defied a lot of stereotypes. While initially, it was the cover that caught my eye, once I read the first line, I was pretty much hooked from there on in.


“The great grey beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive.”
The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

This one’s definitely one of my favourites – both book and first line!!


“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
1984 by George Orwell

I have yet to actually read this one, but it’s getting very close to the top of my pile, and I’ve heard this quote many a time. I think it captures people, just because of how it normal it starts out, and how very alien it ends.


“It was a dark and stormy night.”
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Oh how I love this one!! When I read this the first time, I don’t remember commenting on it, but after re-reading it again recently, I actually laughed. Just because it’s the exact line school teachers tell you never to use. I don’t know whether they say that because of this book, or whether L’Engle used it because teachers say it, but I love it.


“There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren’t in a hurry, like maybe if you’re wearing platform shoes.”
Me Before You Jojo Moyes

This one’s not exactly the first line of the book, because there’s a prologue, but it’s the first line of chapter 1. At first, it’s interesting, but not too notable… until you get to the platform shoes. That makes it for me.


“It was a pleasure to burn.”
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 is just one of the ones that makes you go, “Wait what?” A very unconventional start, to quite a unconventional book


“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.”
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The simplicity is what makes this one so effective. It introduces the main character, the setting of Middle Earth, and links Lord of the Rings in, all at the same time.


“First the colours. Then the humans. That’s usually how I see things. Or at least how I try.

 ~Here is a small fact~
You are going to die.
The Book Thief 
by Markus Zusak

I realise that this is actually quite a few lines, but it’s worth it. The many simple sentences all work together, and then the bit underneath is, again the “Wait, what?” I really love those little bolded bits in The Book Thief, and how they almost tell their own story.


“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams’ has quite a few one-liners that ultimately make this book what it is. I also love: “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.” I quote that one all the time!!


“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This one’s another recent read for me – one I absolutely loved!! One of the major reasons I enjoyed it so much was the language used, showcased perfectly in this first line.


“Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John.”
Bird by Crystal Chan

Juxtaposed quotes really capture the audience’s attention, especially when they’re the first line. The blurb, title, and first line, all add together to create the almost creepy atmosphere of this book.


“Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.”
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Not my favourite quote from the series, but still a pretty awesome first line! You don’t hear much else about Joost, but he certainly makes for an interesting introduction.


“I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher”
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Aaaand last one, is (not actually the first line, per se, but first chapter name) Percy Jackson. How could I not include Riordan’s hilarious one-liners?? Seriously, this entire book- no, series – is filled with laughs!


And there we have it. I hope you enjoyed this wonderful list, as I certainly did. Maybe you’re even looking at Sizzling Starts with new eyes now! Looking back over books and finding old favourites is super fun!! If you have any of your own, definitely add them in the comments below!! I’ll be looking out for some good ones! 🙂

 


May Wrap Up

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Hello again!! Winter is here, for me in Australia, and I am so looking forward to the holidays!! Not just because I get rid of all these assignments and exams, but because then I can curl up with a cuppa, possibly a cat, and READ!! I’m also going skiing in the holidays, which is going to be lots of fun, but we’ll talk about that another time. For today, I bring you my May Wrap-up!!

I actually can not believe that we are already in June. This is crazy! In terms of books, how did everyone go? I’m quite proud of my readings this month, myself finishing a total of 7 books:

The Goldfinch: Finally, finally, got to the last page of this book, and even though it took me forever, I’d say it was worth it. The language was a masterpiece, though the plot, at times, was a bit tiresome.

And I Darken: I received this book for Easter (an awesome Easter present, I know!), and had heard some pretty good things about it. I also, really, really enjoyed it. It’s almost like a retelling of Vlad the Impaler, with certain elements mixed up and switched around.

Defy the Stars: Oh, this book. I loved it. Could not put it down, but I don’t know why either. There are obvious parts where it’s not the best, but I fell in love with the characters and how they interacted, straight away. I think that’s why I loved it so much.

Shadow and Bone: And onto the Grisha Trilogy I went. Bit late in reading this, and I read Six of Crows beforehand, so that’s a bit backwards, but it was still enjoyable. Nowhere near as good as Six of Crows (for me anyway), but still a very good book and story.

Siege and Storm: This one is my least favourite of the Grisha books, but in saying that, it’s still not bad. I feel like there wasn’t a lot happening in this one, whereas in the other two, lots of action took place.

Ruin and Rising: Another awesome book from Leigh Bardugo! I think my favourite of the Grisha books is Shadow and Bone, but this isn’t too far behind. This whole series is a must read for anyone who likes young adult, or fantasy.

A Monster Calls: This one’s by Patrick Ness, and although I’d heard about it, it wasn’t on my TBR list. It was only because I saw it at the library that I decided to try it, and see what it was all about. And I’m telling you, if it isn’t already, put this on your reading list!! Written for a younger audience, this is still a very powerful book, with so many lessons, and so much emotion, all wrapped up in a clever story!! I loved it, from first page, until the end.

Talon: I didn’t finish this one in May, but I’m halfway through, so I’m going to include it anyway. After Legion’s (Talon #4) release, I decided to re-read the entire series, as I’d kinda forgotten what happened in each one.


Onto the Haul!! May wasn’t too big of a month for buying books, but I just heard some very exciting information. The Lifeline Bookfest is coming back in June!!! Yay!! I absolutely love going, and we usually get lots and lots and lots of books every time. I think it may be time for a shelf-rearrange…

May Haul:

  • Shadow and Bone
  • Siege and Storm
  • Ruin and Rising
  • Legion

I’ve already read most of those ones, only got Legion to go. It looks like I’m going to have to buy some more books soon… Mwa ha ha… There were lots of big releases in May, so I’m going to list a few. No. 1, I still haven’t read, but it was the most anticipated, so I’d better put it up:

  • A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J. Maas
    • This is the one everyone’s been waiting for. Finally it’s here, and I’m yet to start the series. I’ll get to it eventually, but apparently, it is very good, (It is Sarah J. Maas, what can I say?) so if you haven’t heard of it, I recommend checking it out
  • Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh
    • Author of The Wrath and the Dawn, Renee Ahdieh released this one in May, and people are loving it. It’s one of the highest ranking books released in May, which is saying something because there are lots of big ones.
  • Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2) – Cassandra Clare
    • And it’s here!! I loved Lady Midnight, more than I thought I would, and after finishing, immediately needed the next one. I think I might do another re-read, and then go onto this one.
  • The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo #2) – Rick Riordan
    • Any Rick Riordan fans out there?? Not many people I know read his books anymore, but I still enjoy their fast-paced energy and humour. I haven’t started the Trials of Apollo yet, as I’m waiting for them all to come out first (Riordan has a tendency to finish books on cliffhangers… *cough, cough* Mark of Athena *cough, cough*)

All finished for May, so let’s get on with June. I would like to read Lord of Shadows this month, and possible All the Light we Cannot See, but we’ll see. What are you reading?? Have any thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned above?? Don’t be afraid to comment your ideas and thoughts below!!

 

Broken Battlements, Women in Distress, and the Supernatural:

“I, myself, am… Strange and unusual” – Lydia Deetz (Beetlejuice)


After recently reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and also watching Twilight, Dracula Untold, and Nosferatu for English, I keep finding myself returning to gothic thoughts. So, firstly to get it off my mind and into words, (and secondly to start drafting for my english assignment), I thought I might write a post about it. The first question you have to ask yourself is:

What is gothic?

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The initial themes of the genre developed in the late 18th century, as a reaction from the Enlightenment Period. This was a time when European politics, philosophy, science and communications, radically changed. Gothic literature built of the ‘already-there’ horror aspects of human nature, and used people’s fears to create monstrous, evil beings. The gothic novel originated in England, 1765, with the publication of The Castle of Otranto. The author, Horace Walpole created and used elements of mystery, suspense, dark, gloomy settings, and women in distress. These themes all sound a bit out-dated nowadays, and surely modern society’s values, attitudes and beliefs have changed? But from the examples I have read/watched, I have concluded that actually, contemporary gothic conforms to the traditional form to a large extent. The setting is still very similar, the damsel in distress is still a main theme, and even though the depiction of vampires has changed, the evil, supernatural being is still there.

Not all gothic novels are the same, though they all show certain gothic elements, one of those being the setting. While Twilight, isn’t set in a high, looming castle, it does have other aspects that conform to the traditional. For example, at the beginning of the movie, Bella mentions that, “Thick fog was all I could see out my window… You could never see the sky….” This mysterious atmosphere continues throughout the movie, instilling a feeling of fear or uneasiness. Dracula Untold also has clear examples showcasing the eerie atmosphere, such as the jagged, rocky cave in which the Vampire lives. Stoker’s Dracula of course displays these themes, with descriptions of Castle Dracula on page 22: “…the courtyard of a vast, ruined castle, from whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky.” I absolutely love this description, and it serves as evidence that modern gothic texts still conform to the traditional.

Another common theme is women in distress. Whether it be traditional, such as Dracula, or contemporary, like Twilight and Dracula Untold, women will always find themselves in a position where they are threatened by a man more powerful than them. Two quotes from Dracula show just how vulnerable Lucy and Mina are. During a meeting, Professor Van Helsing states that, “…it won’t do to leave Mrs Harker alone after sunset.” While he is just being protective of her, this also implies that he doesn’t believe Mina can look after herself. The second quote is from Dracula himself, and it displays how the women in Victorian times were owned by men: “Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine.” In Meyer’s Twilight, the woman is also portrayed as the constant victim, while the man, the constant hero. Edward, the powerful male, is always lurking nearby, ready to save the vulnerable Bella. This is also the same in Dracula Untold. Vlad’s wife is almost uncontrollable in her panic and distress when her son is taken from her.

There have been some changes over time to the supernatural element, but the overall antagonist is still very similar. In all three examples of the gothic text, the main supernatural event, or character is the vampire. A description of Dracula on page 458 displays Stoker’s evil character: “His eyes flamed red with devilish passion; the great nostrils of the high aquiline nose opened wide and quivered at the edges; and the white sharp teeth, behind the full lips of the blood-dripping mouth, champed together like those of a wild beast.” Again, another amazing description, and obviously, Stoker wanted to create his character as evil as can be, by mixing all sorts of horrible characteristics into one. In Dracula Untold, the older vampire who gives Vlad his powers is also a hideous beast, showing no compassion at all. And last, but certainly not least, there are Twilight’s vampires; human-looking, protective Edward, and the much more evil, sadistic James. While the depiction of these vampires has changed in many aspects, for example the human looking face, and normal shaped teeth, the thoughts behind the antagonist are still the same, threatening women to drink their blood. Again, almost no difference at all between traditional, and contemporary gothic.

Coming from two different eras, these three examples of gothic texts show remarkably similar elements. A suspenseful, gloomy atmosphere is found in all three, there is always a female character in danger or in distress, and the sinister, impulsive vampires, satisfying themselves by threatening women, are still the main antagonist. Therefore, can’t it be concluded that contemporary gothic texts from the present, are still conforming to gothic elements that were displayed in the past? I truly believe so, yes. You could argue that Twilight is not the best choice from the gothic genre, but it still displays the themes. The only question now is whether this will change in the future?


Rate this post if you feel like it!! 🙂

 


April Wrap Up

Hello Bookworms!! I hope you’re all well. It’s been a bit of a busy month for me, with school, assignments, and dancing eisteddfods, not leaving time for much else. During April, I didn’t read too much, which is disappointing, but there was quite a haul of both books, and pop vinyl figures. I also went and saw Beauty and the Beast which was amazing! What did everyone else think of it?

Now, the only books that I read in April were these three. I’m still going on the Goldfinch, but not because it’s slow or boring. It’s just there’s a lot of information to take in, and it doesn’t have a storyline that hooks you. For anyone else who has read it, you’ll understand that it’s more of a literary book, with amazing language, and to appreciate it properly, you have to read it slow. Other than that, I really enjoyed Caraval, (review on the link), and Fantastic Beasts was great as well. I’ll hopefully be posting reviews for both Fantastic Beasts and The Goldfinch soon.

  • Caraval
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them
  • The Goldfinch (almost finished)

 

For the haul, I bought or received eight books this month, which is quite a haul for me. And I’m really looking forward to some of them! Once I finish The Goldfinch, I’m going to have a hard time picking which one to read first. Hopefully I can read a bit more in May, so I can get through more books. Also the Beauty and the Beast book is SO BEAUTIFUL! It’s amazing, and even has interactive illustrations inside.

  • Caraval – Stephanie Garber
  • The End – Lemony Snicket
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – J. K. Rowling
  • The Beauty and the Beast – Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve
  • And I darken – Kiersten White
  • All the Light we cannot see – Anthony Doerr
  • The Pirate Planet – Douglas Adams
  • The DC Comics Encyclopaedia – Daniel Wallace & Scott Beatty

 

What an exciting list! I’m going to have to slowly work my way through them, which is going to be hard with all these amazing new books being released as well! So many books, so little time!! It’s a very real issue. I’m going to be listing the books that were released in April this time, because they’re so much easier to find books. And, because they’ve already been released, I can have a chance to pick the well-reviewed ones. So, in April there were:

  • Legion – Julie Kagawa (Talon #4)
    • I really enjoy Kagawa’s books, including the Iron Fey, and her Immortal Rules series, but what annoys me is her tendency to take forever to release the next book in a series!! So, finally, here is number 4 in her Talon series. If you like young adult, mixed with fantasy and dragons, you’ll like this one.
  • Spindle Fire – Lexa Hillyer
    • This book is going to be a new retelling of Cinderella, and it sounds really, really interesting. It’s also got some very high reviews on Goodreads, so it should be pretty good
  • Red Sister – Mark Lawrence
    • This one’s second on the Goodreads list for released in April, and people are really loving it. I want to check it out, and if anyone’s read it, be sure to tell me how you found it!
  • Defy the Stars – Claudia Gray
    • This one’s like a science fiction, fantasy mixture that’s set in space, in the future, but sounds like it has some pretty cool ideas in it. I might read this soon…
  • The Upside of Unrequited – Becky Albertalli
    • This is a new contemporary book that was featured in multiple book boxes, which is probably how it got its name. And the review everywhere all say it’s amazing, breaking the rules of the usual book, discussing issues not really touched on, and including minority groups as the main characters.

Phew! Long post! I’ll be reviewing The Goldfinch soon, and be on the lookout for more posts in May. Lots of books to read 🙂 . It makes me happy. Keep reading!

~~Isis~~

Caraval

Author: Stephanie GarberCaraval_final cover (1).jpg

Pages: 407

Genre: Fantasy, magic, YA, romance

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27883214-caraval


Thoughts:

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

Valuable advice to not just the characters. The story of Caraval sweeps you up quickly, and doesn’t let go easily. While I enjoyed reading it, it wasn’t until after I’d finished, that I started to see all the faults. The intense plot distracts you from the rest of the book, it seems.

So. I’m not exactly sure what to think of this book. I like it, but then I go through it again in my head, and it’s back in a negative light. But, I definitely enjoyed it while I was reading it. It was a very fun experience. I want to make that clear. (Also, look how pretty the cover is??! That was what piqued my interest in the first place)

“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

When I look back on it, and go through plot, characters, setting, it all seems to go pear-shaped. Firstly, plot… (Let’s get the negative bit over with) It seemed like a good idea at the beginning. It sounded very promising, up until the crazy twists and turn. By the end of the book, I actually didn’t know what was going on. Details kept being changed, and more things added in, until the villain was no longer the villain at all. It was a bit hard to keep up with. After I’d finished, I did manage to sort out what was happening, but was still left wanting more. Luckily, there is a second book! Even after this little complaint, I still want the next one. Surely that must mean something.

“No one is truly honest,” Nigel answered. “Even if we don’t lie to others, we often lie to ourselves. And the word good means different things to different people.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

Ok next: characters. The facts; interesting on the outside, very little development (except for one). Again, it’s like a thin layer of good book on the outside, but when go deeper, you discover it’s actually not that good of a quality book. The main character, Scarlett, started out as likeable, if a bit on the cautious side, but that’s not a bad thing. (I can be pretty cautious sometimes too) But once the male character was introduced, the interesting, well-told story-line, kept getting interrupted by the old fairy-tale belief that she needs to be saved by him.

Blah, blah, blah.

Come on Scarlett, you can do better than this!! (I don’t know if you can tell, but I really enjoy books with strong female leads…) By the end, once everything was twisted around, she started to become a little better, but her sister, on the other hand, was interesting all the way through. Tella had her own beliefs and plans, and didn’t wait for permission to implement them. While this became annoying in some ways, we do need some complications other than the climax. So characters were a mixture of interesting, well-thought-out, confusing, and annoying. There’s just so much happening in this book!

It’s almost as if Garber has tried a little too hard, and added in too many aspects, and that makes the writing messy. For example, it was a confusing concept to begin with, and then magic is involved, and then double-sided characters, and then on top of that, Scarlett has this random ability to sense feelings in colours. It’s so random. This little talent is not introduced, or explained at all, it’s just there, and pops up in random points in the story. I found that a little strange.

“Shades of the rich ruby love she’d felt during the game mixed with hues of deep-indigo hurt, turning everything just a little bit violet.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

All, in all, I’d say it’s the perfect young adult book, designed to keep people reading. A great setting, what started out as great characters, and an enjoyable read, until you start filing through it in your head. I think, by my rating policy, I’m going to give it 4 stars. The writing structure could definitely have been better, but I would certainly still recommend to people. If you have read it, what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them all below in the comments. 🙂

Rating: star_rating_4_of_5

Hello again Bookworms!!

I apologise for being really inactive on my blog at the moment. I’ve really only been posting reviews, and wrap-ups, which is alright I guess, but this year I really wanted to post bit more. So, here I am, doing a little life-update.

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My friends and I spent a day in the city yesterday (Brisbane), and bought a couple of books, as well as some other little things from the mall. Also during the trip, we stopped in at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), which is what the pictures are of above. I just love the atmosphere at GOMA, and each of the art pieces. Many of them, because they are more modern, are a bit hard to understand, but with the right attitude and reading the statements above each piece, you can really appreciate them. And they’re all nice to look at as well.

After we left GOMA, it was time for a little shopping along the Queen St Mall, stopping in to shops here and there. Along the way, the topic of books was brought up, and after that, we just couldn’t stop. Since starting this blog, and my bookstagram account, I’ve heard of so many new books, and whether they have good reviews or bad. And so, yesterday, I passed on some of my newly-found wisdom to my friends. I convinced them to read some books I absolutely loved, introduced them to some new ones, and they did the same for me. All in all, it was a good fun conversation, that lasted for quite some time.

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Once we started looking in stores, and found the book section however, I found that the conversation would have probably been best to have after shopping. This is because, we found every. single. book. that we spoke about. And did I have enough money to buy them all? Nope. I had to force myself to look the other way while I purchased my one novel, leaving all the others behind. Don’t worry though… I will be back…

Now onto the exciting part!! While the rest of the day had been lovely, there is just something magical about bookstores, isn’t there? And especially this bookstore. In the hour we had to kill before catching our train home, one of my friends pulled up google maps, and searched for local bookstores. (What great bookworms we are!!) And the closest one that came up was Archives Fine Books. After she said the name, I realised that I had actually been there before, and basically just started walking there straight away, no hesitation at all. Here are some pics:


Who could resist going there??! Definitely not me! If anyone’s ever in Brisbane, be sure to check it out. (40 Charlotte St, Brisbane City QLD 4000)

And there we go, my little life update is just about over. Other than shopping in the city, I’ve been camping, so there’s been very little time for reading. I’m still not even halfway through The Goldfinch, so I’d best get onto that. The April Wrap-Up is looking a bit bare at the moment.

Have fun reading!!

~Isis~