Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tales from the Bookshelf - The Night Circus

Today I wanted to talk about The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. This is the October book for the NovelTea Book Club, which I recently joined. Slight spoilers here, so go away if you haven't finished it yet! ;) I really liked the setting and the idea of this book, so I was really hoping I'd enjoy it. Unfortunately I just found it to be a little...too much, I guess, distracting me from the actual story line. We'll get back to that in a second.

The Night Circus

"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 Reves,” 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."

So the story is about Celia and Marco, who spend most of their lives training for some magical challenge that neither of them really understand (such as who it's with, what it's for, or even when it's taking place - it bugs me when people don't demand answers to important questions). They both end up working for The Night Circus, which is when the challenge begins. Even though the story is about Celia and Marco, it's told from the perspective of just about every character in the book. Most of these different perspectives are set in different time periods - not chronologically. To give you an idea I just flipped my book open to the middle, and the next few chapters went in order like this (character, location, and time period):

- Chandresh in London, 1886
- Bailey in Massachusetts, 1902
- Written in third person so not really anyone's POV, some location, 1887
- Friedrick in France, 1889
- Widget and Poppet in Cairo, 1890
- Marco in Paris, 1891

So you'll see there's a lot of traveling in this book (to different destinations and different places in time, so it's basically time travel, which I hate) [Just kidding it's not time travel, but it's still annoying.] With all these different characters and time periods, things get a little confusing. On top of that, the book is written in first, second, AND third person. Keeping the story straight is difficult, and if you don't pay enough attention when you're hopping through different time periods it's easy to assume that things in the story mean things that they actually don't. This happened to me in the beginning and I had to flip back and reread some parts.

Another issue I had with this book is that the two main characters are so, so, so boring. They're boring because we don't really know anything about them, and they're not given any personal traits or quirks to separate them from any other characters in the book. If I read a chapter about Celia, but you told me it was actually about Marco, I'd believe you because they are written the same. Also, Marco's kind of an asshole. He falls in love with Celia in, like, two seconds. Even though he has this other chick, Isobel, that he's been with for years. YEARS! He starts to pursue Celia anyway, and doesn't tell our girl Isobel until WAY later. And when he's off with Celia he never stops for a second to think about Isobel, because he never loved her anyway, so that makes it ok. Celia is a little more remorseful, but not really. When Isobel starts acting like the scorned woman she is, people are like "Isobel y u do dis" because no one seems to get it and the whole thing is just written really weird.

I know I sound grumpy, but I didn't find the book to be a total bust. For starters I liked setting of the circus. I feel like the circus theme has been pretty popular in the last few years, but The Night Circus still manages to set itself apart. It's fun but with a hint of mystery, and reminded me of that Cirque du Soleil movie, Worlds Away - when the girl travels through all the different tents to find different magical things in each one.

Another part of the book I enjoyed was one of the story's other main characters, Bailey. For a good chunk of the book Bailey and his story still revolve around the circus, but not connecting with Celia and Marco. I found Bailey's chapters refreshing to read because I was tired of Marco and Celia. He's a lover of The Night Circus and becomes friends with a set of twins that live and perform there, Poppet and Widget. At first his story feels like filler, like "this is ok, but what does it have to do with anything?" Towards the end everything ties together nicely, although maybe a little rushed.

Bottom line - this was an alright book. Parts of it were fun and creative, while other parts were a snooze. The overzealous time jumping made reading it a chore at times...so maybe it will translate better as a movie (which is being made, but no real dates or details yet). Either way I'm glad I read it. This book has been on my "to read" list fooorever, so now I can finally check it off :) Have you read The Night Circus? What did you think?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bookish (and not-so Bookish) Thoughts #12

Friends! I hope you're all doing well. I've missed you. I have been way too busy lately, and I miss writing. October has been a really busy month for me, and honestly I'm feeling really drained. I've also had a near-constant headache since Monday the 12th (yes, I'm keeping track), so that's fun. During the week I'm at my "regular" job, and Fri/Sat/Sun I spend working at the theatre. We're doing The Rocky Horror Show, which I love! This Saturday we're starting our midnight shows, which are always the most fun! The audience is always so happy to be there, and the energy just feeds into the cast and crew. It's exciting. So even if I feel like crap, I'm still doing something I love. I guess that's important :P Anyway, enough whining on my end. Here's a few other things I've been up to!

1. Have you seen Vin Diesel playing D&D with the Geek & Sundry and Nerdist crew? Because it's important. Check out their mini-campaign here. I would totally play on team #DNDiesel!

2. Compared to my usual speed, I've done a really good amount of reading this month. I've finished The Night Circus, Station Eleven, Fangirl and the last two issues of Deadpool Killustrated. I'm on a roll! In fact, I'm even one book ahead of schedule for my Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge (which is a goal of 50 books). I plan on writing mini-reviews on all of these books later. Only bummer is that by the end, I wasn't in really love with any of these books. They all started off good and then kind of fizzled out for me. But we can talk more about that later.

3. For the last few years I've made cake balls during the holidays. It's no secret that I've always hated baking and cooking, but awhile back I decided that everyone needs their own "thing" that they can make and be the cool kid at parties. So one day when my co-worker brought a batch of cake balls to work I decided  my thing would be cake balls, and here we are. This year I think I'm going to mix it up and try making Oreo truffles instead! You make them pretty much the same way, but with crushed Oreo's instead of cake. Which means you don't have to bake the cake, which means technically there's no baking involved. Score! I got the idea from North East Nerd, who made some cute Halloween themed ones!

Image from North East Nerd :)

4. Back to the topic of books...I'm currently reading Deadpool Kills Deadpool; the last part of The Deadpool Killogy. I've found the whole Killogy to be a bit of a letdown, but I'm almost done so I'm going to finish it anyway. Plus I need to finish a trilogy for a different reading challenge I'm doing ;) I received Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris in the mail recently, so I'll be starting that soon. The other day a friend loaned me his copy of Library of Souls (third book in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series), so I guess I'll be starting that, too :P

5. The fifth and final episode of Life is Strange, titled Polarized, came out yesterday! So obviously I stayed up all night playing it. Being the final episode, they had a lot of ground left to cover and I wasn't sure if they'd be able to pull it off. Story wise, they...sort of did. It did leave me a little sad, but we're lying to ourselves if we expected everything to turn out rainbows and butterflies. Unfortunately the rest of the episode fell a little flat for me. But just a little. Like I've said before, I love this series; but if I had to pick the weakest episode, it would be this one. Since it's only been out for two days I won't say any more, I don't want to spoil anything! I do have a lot of thoughts on it though, so I'd like to come back to this topic later :) Have you played Life is Strange yet?!

That's enough for this week :) Tell me what you've been up to! What are you reading? Playing? Eating? Anything! Bookish (and not-so Booksih) Thoughts is hosted every Wednesday by Bookishly Boisterous!

6. Oh, I almost forgot again...happy Back to the Future Day!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Read Play Blog - Game Characters I'd Want on my Zombie Apocalypse Team

Read Play Blog is a meme about video games and books, posted every 16th of the month. Bloggers are encouraged to answer a discussion question, recommend a video game that they like, and share what they're currently playing. Hosted by Happy Indulgence Books & Read Me Away!

Happy weekend! It's been awhile since I last wrote a Read Play Blog post. Usually the 16th just sneaks on by, and then I'll see one written by one of my other bloggy friends and I'm like, "awe, I'll do it next month FOR SURE." Yeah. But when I saw the theme for October I liked it so much that I wrote it down in my bullet journal so I DEFINITELY wouldn't forget this month. And here I am! Still a little late, but I did it! Ta daaaah :) So this months theme is video game characters we'd want on our apocalypse teams. I think this is both an easy topic and a hard one. If you play a lot of games I'm sure you can EASILY think of twenty-thousand characters to bring with you (unless the only games you play are dating sims, I mean, no judgments, but c'mon)...the hard part is narrowing the list down! So after much thought, here's what I came up with.

Jill Valentine - Resident Evil

I feel like Jill is the obvious choice for everyone, so let's just get this out of the way first. Jill can kick serious butt, and arguably has the most experience in these type of situations.

Jill Valentine gif

Johnny Gat - Saints Row

The ultimate badass! The only issue I can think of is that he's very impulsive, And the more I thought about it, the more I thought that might not be a great thing in an apocalypse. Although if he wants to be reckless and start shit then I guess it doesn't matter as long as he can hold his own (which he can). He did punch Satan in the face, after all.

Johnny Gat

Malfurion Stormrage - World of Warcraft/Heroes of the Storm

Because you always need a healer.

Malfurion Stormrage

Lara Croft - Tomb Raider

Not only can she fight, but I imagine her survivalist skills are the best in the group. No going hungry with Lara Croft around!

Currently playing: The Walking Dead Season 1

Telltale The Walking Dead

I'll be honest with you, I'm a little over the zombie phenomenon. I feel like everywhere you look there's a new zombie movie, book, or game out. I used to watch The Walking Dead, but I started to get bored and now haven't seen the last two seasons. HOWEVER, I'm really into those story based, choose your own adventure type games right now. I started with Life is Strange (amazing game, the last chapter come out this month!), then moved onto The Wolf Among Us (also great). I really want to play Tales from the Borderlands, but I'm waiting for it to go on a good sale (asinfreecoughcough). Andrew already had The Walking Dead games seasons 1 and 2, so with the nifty new sharing games feature on Steam (seriously, it's THE BEST, and you will save so much $$$), I started playing that. I don't have much to say about it right now, because I only started playing it last night. I didn't even finish the first episode yet, because I had to leave for work. Then I came back from work, and finished writing this post. Much adult. So far I am enjoying it, but out of the other two games I just listed, I'd put this at the bottom. For now, anyway. I'll let you know more after I've played a good chunk :)

So what are you playing right now? Next month's topic is When do you game and when do you read? I can't wait to see what everyone else has to say! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bookish (and not-so Bookish) Thoughts #11

Hi friends! I hope everyone's doing well :) Here's some updates/thoughts/happenings!

1. Update: So last time I asked everyone for book club suggestions. Since then I have joined the NovelTea Book Club! Yay puns! I haven't actually joined in on any of their discussions yet, but they seem like a great bunch and I hope to stick around for awhile. For September they were reading Station Eleven, but by the time I found out it was already kinda late in month and I wasn't able to finish the book in time. It looked interesting, so I started it anyway and am very much enjoying it, though. For October they're reading The Night Circus, which worked out great because I already owned a copy that I'd been wanting to read. I'm maybe 100 pages in so far and while it started off kinda confusing, I'm into it! I also picked up Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. This seems to be a favorite of just about everyone, so I figured it was time to check it out!

Purple poo courtesy of Depepi ;)

2. The game I'm currently (though slowly) playing is Heavy Rain. My younger brother and I were talking about how we wanted to try playing scarier games, but since we're both pansies we decided to get one to play together. Heavy Rain is not co-op and only on PS3/PS4, so we can only play it together when we are literally sitting right next to each other (he has a Playstation, I don't). This means it might take forever to finish, but we're enjoying ourselves so it's ok. Heavy Rain is considered a film noir thriller, where you alternate between four different characters that are all somehow involved with the mystery of the Origami Killer -  a serial killer who uses extended periods of rainfall to drown his victims. Whenever the Origami Killer strikes, he leaves behind an origami animal, so of course I had to make my own. I read that when you buy a new copy of the game it actually comes with a nifty origami sheet for you to do this, but I bought our copy from GameStop and it didn't even come with the game case. Instead I found this print out sheet on DeviantArt. You can find folding directions all over the internet, but I found this video most helpful. My brother and I jokingly call him Danbo (which is a Yotsuba&! reference), because when he first showed me this game I thought the origami figure on the cover looked like a cardboard box (at first glance, without my glasses on, don't judge me), which reminded me of Danbo >_>) Here's a picture from the cover next to the bird I made, for comparison :)

3. I recently finished playing The Wolf Among Us. I've played all five episodes and it is SO BADASS. It's another story/decision based game, because after playing Life is Strange that's my favorite thing to play right now (you can read about my experience with that here). The Wolf Among Us is a spin-off from the comic book series, Fables.....which I haven't read. I plan to, though!!! So I know that many of the characters in the game are also in the comics, but I can't really tell you which ones :(

4. Did you read anything special for Banned Books Week? I...did not (mostly because I have too many other things to finish), but I DID print out these nifty Banned Books Week bookmarks! You can find the free download on the Quirk Books blog! I took the picture below not only to show off my new bookmarks, but as my contribution to day 5 of the #BooksandTeacups photo-a-day challenge! It's being hosted by Kristen, blogger at My Life as a Teacup, and you can see the rest of the photo prompts here! I'm terrible at photo challenges and I NEVER manage to post a photo for each day, but I still like joining in when I can :P

5. My momma is awesome and is currently crocheting me an Ewok hood to wear for Halloween and the Star Wars movie premiere!!! I could not be more excited. For awhile I didn't know what I wanted to wear for Halloween. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, so I figured I'd just pull out my Aquaman garb from last year. Then I went to Target and saw all the badass Star Wars onesies EVERYWHERE. For only $25.00! Totally awesome. Except I knew that if I was going to dress as a Star Wars character, it had to be an Ewok. Not only are they my favorite, but they're short and chunky, just like me. So they're perfect! Hahah. Anyway, of course Target had no Ewok onesies, but I was curious if I'd be able to find one online for a similar (yeah, right) price. NOPE. I could not find a single Ewok onesie. Lots of Darth Vader and Chewbacca ones, though >_> During my search I kept seeing all these different knit and crochet Ewok hoods, and I thought they were so cute! I asked my mom (because try as I might she is the crafty one, not me) if she'd make me one <3 So I bought this pattern for $3.50 and we modified it a bit (there are free patterns available too, but this is the one we liked best) and I bought a big thing of orangey yarn for maybe $4.00. I still need to get dark brown yarn for the ears, but those are added last so I'm not worried. I also picked up some leather cord for the weird stitching at the top :) What are you wearing for Halloween?

6. On Sunday favorite geeky tee maker, Jordan, posted this sneak peak for some X-FILES shirts she has coming to the shop!!! When I saw the photo on Instagram I had a serious fangirl moment. Then yesterday she had to tease me even more by posting this photo! I've been wanting an X-Files shirt for awhile, but almost everything I found on other sites were either boring, oddly expensive, or just in big boxy man-cut shirts. Lame. I can't WAIT to see what Jordan came up with. In the meantime you can check out the rest of her shop, here! I reviewed the Lord of the Rings tank last year, and I still wear it every chance I get!

x-files gif

...annnd that's all for today. Bookish (and not-so Bookish) Thoughts is hosted every Wednesday on Bookishly Boisterous! Have a great weekend, friends!