Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
Fantasy
Published: 2011
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there when yesterday it was not.

I finally read one of the most buzzed-about books of 2011! It's new to paperback this week, so even more reason to check it out.

The Night Circus is a mysterious traveling magical circus. The story takes place during the late 1800s through the turn of the century, with a myriad cast of characters involved in creating, performing and attending the circus. As a reader, you are also a particpant in the illusions of the circus, the rich imagry and fantastical wonders as it unfolds for you. You understand the circus in snippets, but not entirely until you are already pretty invested in the story.

Behind the magic, a competition takes place between two young magicians who aren't informed who they are fighting, for what purpose or even what they are supposed to do. The competition is as much a mystery as the circus, and it's all a secret. It's kind of like The Illusionist meets Cirque de Soliel mixed with Water for Elephants.

This is the book everyone read last year and it made lots of year-end lists. It's intriguing, and quite different than other books out there. It's clever, funny at times and of course, mysterious.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Review: Tangled by Erica O'Rourke

Tangled
Erica O'Rourke
YA Paranormal Romance - The Torn series (book #2)
Published: 2011

I don't read a ton of paranormal YA these days, but this series is a great mix of contemporary with mystical elements. Mo, short for Maura, lives in Chicago with a family rumored as connected to the mafia; her father is in jail, and her uncle controls most aspects of her life in a way that (he says) is meant to protect Mo and her mother.

Her uncle wants Mo to I.D. some thugs as part of a rival Russian mob infiltration (his competition), but she knows it's a set-up and won't agree. Suddenly, the nice things she has access to start slipping away, and even her life is in danger when men she assumes work for her uncle threaten her. Mo's uncle set her up with a bodyguard named Colin, a good looking guy a few years older than her. They begin an attraction in book 1 (Torn) but it continues here, although it's forbidden on many levels (she's in high school, he's over 18, he works for her uncle).

Meanwhile, Mo is also dealing with a mystical world that most people can't see, but Mo can since she accidentally took the place of her best friend (in Torn) at the pivotal moment her friend was set to receive power to control the magical realm. Now thrust into this role, Mo follows the orders of a different kind of mob -- a magical one. But of course, to further complicate matters is the helpful but entirely over-peristant Luc who she is supposedly destined for.

Mo makes decisions for herself, despite how much she's ordered around. So fear not if you detest weak girl characters who can't think for themselves. She also has a few chances to just act like a teenager which is also refreshing, along with believeable obstacles since people actually notice when she's missing unlike many YA books where characters frequently ditch school to save the world and none are the wiser.

Find out more about the author on her blog here. The post I linked gives background on her development of the story and the charcters from the Torn series.
Also, the third book in the series, Bound, released at the end of June!