To Be, Rather than to Seem: Reviewing The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Hi everyone! This review took a while because I’m easily distracted. I had actually read this book a while back, but had since forgotten the details of the novel. In fact, most of the books I review for this blog are books that I have read previously, but I wanted to share them with you all. With that being said, here is my review of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

The circus arrives without warning. It is a magical experience for all those who enter through its gates. They call it Le Cirque des Reves and it appears at random and opens only at night. Little do the guests know of the fierce competition behind the scenes. Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair have been training their whole lives for a mysterious game of magic with only one winner. When the two young illusionists fall in love with each other, it leads to dangerous consequences that leave the circus and its performers in peril.

Morgentern’s novel is an elaborate and magical read. The writing is layered and atmospheric. It is certainly an immersive read as it alternates between perspectives, even sometimes shifting the writing style a little to accommodate the characters in the scene. The story can be a bit vague at times, but it is part of the experience. It does pay off at the end of the novel. I particularly enjoyed how the rich details and symbolism tie into the themes of the story, such as the elaborate clocks or the various circus tents that Morgenstern puts great care into describing. The novel has an overall romantic feel, and I don’t just mean that in the sense of there is a love story. I remembered why I enjoyed this novel in the first place. If you want something with magic, romance, and danger, then I would go ahead and recommend picking up The Night Circus.

The Sun Always Rises: Reviewing The Burning Maze (Book Three of The Trials of Apollo) by Rick Riordan

Hi everyone! Let’s get caught up on this series. I’ve actually re-read these three books before I decided to post any sort of review. That is besides the point. Let’s talk about The Burning Maze.

Apollo, despite still being human, has successfully restored two of his famed Oracles with the help of Meg McCaffrey and Grover Underwood. With the identity of the third Emperor revealed, Apollo and his friends must face the infamous Labyrinth in order to free the third Oracle from the evil sorceress, Medea. With Apollo becoming more mortal by the day, he must call upon more demigods. This time they are joined by Piper McLean, daughter of Aphrodite, and Jason Grace, son of Jupiter.

I’m going to put a big old warning out for anyone who was a fan of the Heroes Of Olympus series: you will get all of the feels from this book. I already talked about how the second one was dark but this one gets even darker and a little more graphically violent. Granted, I don’t have a problem with this. In fact, I do tend to read a lot of violent novels. This third installment certainly gets more serious, but still finds its humor in order to alleviate some of the stress you get reading these books. I love how these novels are building up and I can’t wait to find out the answers to some of the questions that Riordan has presented us. Most series tend to falter a bit but this one has stayed relatively strong so far. Again, I’m going to highly recommend this series to all of you mythology nerds out there.

The Weirdest Books I’ve Read

Hi everyone! This post is inspired by a BookTuber I follow called mynameismarines and I recommend you check out her channel. Her video inspired me so now I want to talk about the weirdest books I have encountered. Now, I know “weird” is a subjective term. I’m defining a “weird” book as one that has a narrative structure or plot/plots that stray from the norm. I’m not exactly talking about just fantasy elements because that would take forever to talk about. I am talking about novels that stray from any sort of tropes or flip them around in some unique way. I’m not saying any of these novels are bad but they are simply strange. I hope this becomes more clear as I talk about these books. 

Anthem by Ayn Rand: I read this one way back in my freshman year of high school. Though Rand is known for her lengthy novels, this one is a novella but weirded than the rest. The novel takes place in a dystopian future where everyone’s future is pre-planned and individuality has effectively been eliminated. In fact, the strangest part of this novel is that first person pronouns don’t exist so the narrator uses “us,” “we,” and “them,” even when he is just talking about one other person. Also, the characters have names like Liberty 2569 or Unity 8764. It’s definitely one of the darker dystopians I have read. If you are really into dystopian novels, then you should give this one a try.

Dubliners by James Joyce: This one is not a novel but I am still including it as it has a strange narrative structure. Joyce’s short stories are unique as they don’t really have a beginning or an ending. They are referred to as “slice of life” stories. You have to speculate a lot in order to figure out the main point of the stories are. Along with the that, the titles are only semi-relevant. Joyce is not there to tell you what to think and I really like that aspect of this collection of short stories. I’d go ahead and recommend it if Joyce’s other novels are too lengthy for you.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: I have discovered that this novel is one of the most divisive as people either love it or hate it. In case you have never read it, Wuthering Heights is a confusing combination of characters who have the same names and a story that is told mostly in flashback through another character’s point of view. There are some possible supernatural elements. The characters are insane. I did, however, come to appreciate this insanity. Just know what you are getting into before you read this one.

Redshirts by John Scalzi: I did a review on this one a while ago and I absolutely love this novel. It begins out as a Star Trek parody but then it takes a turn for the weird as the narrative becomes very meta. Scalzi does an excellent job bending tropes and creating an odd but cohesive plot. The book also becomes surprisingly touching towards the end. I highly recommend this one to any sci-fi or Star Trek fan.

The Golden Ass by Apuleius: Yes, that is the actual name of the novel. It is the only Ancient Roman novel to have survived in its entirety. I am a Latin minor so I had to read this one for a class. To summarize the plot, a man named Lucius gets turned into a donkey (or ass) after being accused of killing three men and then must escape various thieves and murderers in order to become human again. It is just as confusing as it sounds. There are stories within stories. The novel itself is super raunchy and does not pull punches when it comes to describing any “adult” activities between the characters. I hope the Romans are proud that this is their legacy.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman: I couldn’t finish off this list without talking about my favorite (and weirdest) writer, Neil Gaiman. My favorite thing about Gaiman is he is so weird in a very matter-of-fact manner. Good Omens is the best example of that. The humor, the quirky side characters, and the intersecting plots all make this novel one weird and wild ride. There are also footnotes sprinkled throughout the novel that only add to the weirdness. I highly recommend checking this one out before the Amazon Prime adaptation comes out.

Walk Like You’re A God: Reviewing The Dark Prophecy (Book Two of The Trials of Apollo) by Rick Riordan

Hey everybody! I’m trying to space out these book reviews somewhat. I don’t think any of you honestly care. I just get really excited about some of my books and I don’t want to stop reading. You know how it is. Anyways, here’s my review of The Dark Prophecy. Feel free to check out my review for the first book in this series.

Apollo is still a mortal teenage boy named Lester, in case you were wondering. After stopping an invasion of an evil Roman emperor at Camp Half – Blood, Apollo must venture to the Midwest to find the second Oracle in the Cave of Trophonius, which is known to drive people to insanity. With the help of Leo Valdez and the now-mortal Calypso, he faces certain death at the hands of the second member of the Triumvirate. It’s just another day in the life of an ex-god.

I can honestly say that I was not expecting to be as invested in these books as I currently am. This one does take a bit of a darker turn. As this book flashes back to Apollo as a god, some of the details become more gruesome than I anticipated but I loved that aspect of the novel. Riordan does a great job balancing drama with comedy and playing with anti-climax. I also particularly enjoy this book because you get a bit of an ancient Rome lesson. If you find Roman history interesting, then you will like what Riordan has in this novel. I’m still immensely enjoying this series so I still definitely recommend reading The Trials of Apollo series.

Yield to It or Fight It: Reviewing The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Hi everyone! In case you haven’t been able to tell, I am sucker for books that have been adapted to television and/or movies. I have watched some of the Netflix adaptation of this book, but I haven’t watched enough to properly compare the two. I just wanted to give you a heads up about that. Shirley Jackson has been on my radar for some time now. I did read her short story, “The Lottery,” in high school and I absolutely loved it. Since this novel has arisen in pop culture once again, I decided to give it a shot. Here is my review of The Haunting of Hill House.

Four strangers arrive to the infamous Hill House in order to find out the truth about the paranormal. First, Dr. Montague and his assistant, Theodora arrive to find the truth behind the mystery of Hill House. Eleanor, affectionately called Nellie, must use her knowledge of poltergeists to help them. Lastly, Luke, the heir to Hill House, is trying to clear the mystery behind his odd inheritance. Soon, the four realize that Hill House isn’t simply full of death. It is full of life that is growing stronger and stronger.

The Haunting of Hill House is the quintessential haunted house story. I have always loved classic haunted house tales and Jackson has an interesting take on this tale. The book is atmospheric in every way. The characters and setting are well-defined but also have an air of mystery that morphs throughout the novel. You feel unsettled throughout the novel as Jackson adds unsettling detail after unsettling detail. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this novel scary, I did certainly find it creepy. It is a relatively quick read also. I think all horror fans and non-horror fans can find enjoyment in this novel. I would definitely recommend The Haunting of Hill House. If you don’t feel like reading it, then at least read “The Lottery” as it is just as chilling.

Books That Made Me Cry

Hi everybody! Let’s talk about our literary feelings. Though I am not a huge crier when it comes to novels, some have certainly hit me in the direct me in the feelings. I’m sure all of you have had books like these. Maybe there are some books that you don’t want to read again because they hurt you so badly. Well, here are the books that tore my heart into a million little pieces. Obviously, there are going to be spoilers in this post.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling: We all cried at this book. I clearly remember having to set the book down multiple times in order to pull myself together. The moment we lost Hedwig, I knew it was all going to go downhill. I was thoroughly traumatized by this novel as a child and I still tear up during the movie. (Except when Snape dies because I can’t stand that bastard.)

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: This is yet another book that traumatized me as a child. To begin out, this book is set during World War Two so it was due to be depressing. The details of the story are haunting and the characters go through such turmoil. I actually did cry at this book. It is still one of my favorites, though, and I would recommend it if you want a good cry.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: The saddest part about this novel was I went in knowing exactly what would happen. The novel is essentially a re-telling of The Illiad through Patroclus’ point of view. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Homer’s epic, Patroclus is Achilles’ charioteer and lover. The whole novel takes such an intimate look at the relationship between these two young men who are forced into a war that neither of them wants to fight. The ending is just so much more heart breaking. I’d highly recommend this novel.

Looking for Alaska by John Green: Green has been infamous for making many a teen girl cry at his novels and I was yet just another one. Though I did tear up during The Fault in Our Stars, I was genuinely shocked during Looking for Alaska. I had to flip back through the novel to make sure I didn’t miss anything. The book is more realistic in the sense that the loss is sudden and unexpected. I still have a hard time revisiting this novel.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: We all cried when Lenny died. Don’t even try to deny it. The whole book was just generally heart-breaking but the end gets me every time. It is one of those novels that was never going to have a happy ending.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini: Holy cow, did this book hurt my soul. I read this for a class I took and I had a hard time discussing it without getting outraged. Though the novel does have a happy ending, it still absolutely hurts me to read about children getting hurt in any way, shape, or form. With that being said, go read this book.

See No Evil: Reviewing Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Hi everybody! I’m just out here cranking out more book reviews. I’m sure a lot of your have already heard of this novel or seen the Netflix movie based off of this book. I watched it when it first came out and, overall, I did enjoy it. I’ll be making some more comparisons in my review. For those of you who are interested, let by tell you about Bird Box by Josh Malerman.

The apocalypse started and no one saw it coming, literally. The world has been invaded by creatures that drive people to madness with a single look. Malorie, a mother of two young children, must take her chance to get her and the children to safety. With her only chance being a rough trip down a river, Malorie must embark on the perilous journey and escape whatever might be chasing her and her family or lose her mind and life in the process.

This novel carefully straddled the line between character-driven and plot-driven. Overall, the plot is certainly intriguing but the characters felt a little bland to me. It felt as though the only reason I really cared about any of them was because of their situation. The whole situation with the creatures actually gets a better explanation in the movie. In fact, the movie actually did a slightly better job depicting the whole chaotic nature of this apocalyptic scenario. I did, however, enjoy the suspense of the novel and the quick pacing. For those of you who have seen the movie, it’s not a spot-on adaptation. It is pretty close, though. The novel doesn’t hold back in depicting any graphic violence, of which there are a few instances. In conclusion, Josh Malerman’s Bird Box is a good read if you are interested in apocalyptic/survival stories. The whole thing felt a little overhyped to me, but I can’t say I didn’t find enjoyment in this novel. Overall, I’m going to go ahead and recommend reading this novel.

To Err is to God: Reviewing The Hidden Oracle (Book One of The Trials of Apollo) by Rick Riordan

Hi everybody! I know what you’re thinking. “Whoa, two posts in such a short period of time! How is this even possible?” Well, to answer your question, I’ve been feeling more motivated than ever. I also saw The Lightning Thief: The Musical today and it was awesome. I’d highly recommend it. This leads me to my next point, which is that I have been a fan of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series since I was in grade school. I was reading the Heroes of Olympus series into college. For Christmas, my mom had given me the third book in Rick Riordan’s latest series because it had his autograph. Obviously, I had to actually start the series. Now, here is my review of the first novel in The Trials of Apollo.

Apollo once had everything. He was the god of the sun, music, poetry, archery, and many other things until Zeus cast him down from Olympus as punishment. Now a mortal teenager named Lester, Apollo must restore his Oracles to power and prevent a new wave of monsters from destroying the world. With the help of some unlikely demigods, Apollo must complete his quests in order to restore his place on Mount Olympus or die trying.

After reading this first book in his latest series, I realized how much I genuinely missed Riordan’s writing. The things in the novel that made me laugh at thirteen-years-old make me laugh now at twenty-two. Riordan incorporates his usual charm and sarcasm into his writing. Apollo is simultaneously very unlikable and very charming as a main character. Though the plot is still relatively similar to the other novels, Riordan knows how to throw in new elements to make it feel just as new as before. The novel has a tongue-and-cheek feel that could appeal to adults. The characters are still relatable to teens and middle-grade kids. (Don’t quote me on that, though. I could be wrong). Reading this novel, I realized how much I missed Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter. While there are certainly novels that I can safely stow away in the memories of my childhood, this new Riordan series has brought me a fun and familiar nostalgia. If you are a current or former fan of the Percy Jackson series or a Greek mythology nerd, I am going to go ahead and highly recommend if you are looking for a fun adventure or looking to revisit your favorite YA/Middle-grade series.

Outlast the Truth: Reviewing In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Hi everybody! I’ve been on one hell of reading kick lately. I did a full KonMari on my bookshelves recently. While it was difficult to let go of my precious books, I was able to make room for some new ones, including this one. It is also perfect timing since today is International Women’s Day. Ruth Ware has been getting a lot of hype lately so here in my review of her novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood.

Nora Shaw is an up and coming crime writer living a quiet life in London. One day, she gets an odd email. It ends up being an invite to the bachelorette party of a former friend she hasn’t seen in years. Nora, to her own surprise, decides to go. She arrives upon a glass house in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by one friend and five strangers. Soon, the group find themselves in the middle of a shocking and violent tragedy. Nora must then piece together her fractured memories in order to save herself and solve the case.

Like I mentioned before, Ware has been getting a lot of hype recently and I can definitely see the reason why she is so liked. She definitely falls into the same writing style as Gillian Flynn. In a Dark, Dark Wood has a good amount of suspense. I did enjoy the main character, Nora, as she felt imperfect in a realistic way. I liked how the novel was paced as the chapters went back and forth between the weekend and what happened afterwards. There were some interesting plot points but others that felt a little shaky to me. I didn’t find this novel “scary” by any means. I mention that because a lot of the reviews talked about how it was so “scary” or “creepy.” It did kind of feel like a slightly less intense version of a Gillian Flynn novel. That, however, did not make it any less entertaining. I still wanted to find out what happened at the end, even if it was a tiny bit obvious. The writing is solid and the plot is well thought out. If you are a fan of mysteries and thrillers, I would go ahead and say to try out In a Dark, Dark Wood.

Not Surviving, But Thriving: Reviewing Vengeful by V. E. Schwab

Hi everyone! Wow, it feels like it’s been a while since I’ve done a book review. It’s taken me way too long to finish this book. If you want to, you can check out my review of Vicious, the first book in the series. But for now, let’s discuss Vengeful by V.E. Schwab.

Victor Vale and Eli Ever were only the tip of the EO iceberg. Now, a new player has entered the game. Marcella Riggins is powerful, beautiful, and can destroy anything with the touch of her hand. With her sites set on the city of Merit, Marcella decides it is time to claim what she believes is rightfully her. With Victor on the run and Eli being held in an EON detention center, the two must find away to stop Marcella and her powerful friends then end each other once and for all.

Just like Vicious, Vengeful has a thrilling and suspenseful edge to its story telling. The chapters are short but they are packed with gory detail and some great examination of the characters. The novel does get gory so, squeamish readers, you have been warned. I love the complex, morally grey nature of the characters. My only real complaint about this novel was it felt a little slower than its predecessor. There were some longer sections just dedicated to some of the characters’ backstories. I didn’t find it boring by any means. I just felt it dragged on a bit at times but, once you get back into the action, the book picks up very quickly. I found it hard to set this book down. If you loved Vicious then you will certainly love its sequel.