Friday, 16 January 2015

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Publisher: Vintage Books
Format: Paperback
Page count: 512
Synopsis: 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 (via Goodreads).

Buy from the Book Depository (affiliate link).

My thoughts: 
I bought this book on recommendations from Booktube friends who all enjoyed this book and so I thought well surely I would enjoy it too. I wasn't so sure about the magic element but thought that I might as well give it a go. I wish that I hadn't bothered. The Night Circus is by far my least favourite book of 2014 and had zero redeeming qualities in my opinion. I had three main problems with it.

Problem 1: It is set in a circus during the late 1800s. I can see no reason as to why it was set in this time period. Now I don't claim to be an expert on the social etiquette of the 19th Century but I'm pretty sure that it wasn't what this book depicted. For example women weren't allowed to walk around by themselves at night particularly not if they were unmarried which most of the women in this book were. I realise that I'm being rather pedantic but it's important for authors to respect the era that they're books are set in and I really don't think that Erin Morgenstern did. It led me to wonder why she decided to write about this time period at all when she paid no heed to it. I do think that the Victorian age did suit the circus setting but I think it would have been more believable if it was set in modern times. 

Problem 2: The characters. There were just too many minor characters that didn't add anything to the plot. I have no idea who most of the characters were for the majority of the book. It didn't help that the story was non-linear so with every chapter it jumped from insignificant character to other insignificant characters a few years apart. It just made it more confusing and difficult to follow.

I didn't feel like any of the characters had any substance to them particularly not the two main characters. I usually feel some sort of emotion towards the main characters but in The Night Circus I literally felt nothing. There was a very flat love story between the two of them that was supposedly explosive and exciting but from what I read it was anything but. They fell in "love" extremely quickly and it wasn't romantic in any way, it was actually quite awkward and I though it was a useless addition in an effort to add a plot, which brings me conveniently to problem 3.

Problem 3: The non-existent plot. Up until about page 350, there was no plot, bear in mind that this book is just over 500 pages long. For the first 300 pages it was just a bunch of insignificant characters talking about a circus. The magicians did a bit of magic and that was pretty much it. It only picked up ever so slightly once the magicians "love story" started but by then it was too late.

I was advised while reading it that I really had to stick with it and that although the plot isn't the most exciting, Erin Morgenstern's descriptions are beautiful but even that I didn't like. Yes, I agree that she has a way with words, however a book needs more than flowery descriptions to get a reader through it and so in an effort to finish the book as quickly as possible I skim read the descriptions and focused on the dialogue. It was still like wading through treacle, laborious and a hot mess. I really didn't enjoy reading The Night Circus and I would warn you against it unless you enjoy books with no plot, useless characters and ridiculously long descriptions.
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Saturday, 3 January 2015

New Years Resolutions 2015

It is finally 2015 and and everybody is telling themselves they need to be better and do better. The majority of people don't stick to their resolutions and I'll probably be no different but everyone loves a trier, don't they? If you're not already sick of everyone else talking about their resolutions let me tell you about mine.

Update this blog at least once a week
As you may have noticed in 2014, I did very little with this blog. I left it got to rack and ruin and I will eternally regret that I didn't look after it better. 2015 is all about change however and this year is going to be bigger and better. I am going to post at least 3 times a week, if not more and I'm actually going to put effort into writing and also promoting posts.

Update my Youtube channel at least once a week 
In case you weren't already aware, I have a Youtube channel which has actually just turned one year old today! I am actually quite good at uploading regularly but every so often I stop for a few weeks which I don't want to happen anymore. I love Youtube and really want to put my full efforts into it so just like my first resolution I want to update my channel at least once a week if not twice a week. I think it's pretty doable if I plan all of my videos but we'll have to wait and see.

Read 30 books
Last year I set a goal of reading 25 books and I ended up reading 27 so this year I am upping the ante ever so slightly with a goal of 30 books. I really like the way Goodreads allows you to track what books you've read and I find it really useful. I'm not too bothered if I don't hit my goal but it's a good way of keeping an eye on my reading.

Cross 10 books off my Book Bucket list
Last year I only crossed 5 books off my list which is why I'm including it in my resolutions. I think 10 books won't be too difficult and I already have a few books from the list on my TBR shelf just waiting to be read. If you're curious about what books are on the list I wrote a post about it this time last year here.

Cross 20 movies off my Movie Bucket list
I've never shared this list before, it works much the same like the book bucket list but instead of 101 books there are 200 movies. This is because it is actually two lists, one is of modern classics and the other of all-time greats so it's a good mix of the old and the new. I did really badly with this last year and only managed to cross 4 movies off my list which is why my goal is 20 this year. I will hopefully manage to watch more than 20 though.

Start running at least once a week
This is my only personal goal on the list and that is to start jogging. I nearly always make this resolution not only at New Year but at various points throughout the year too. I have never managed to keep going for more than two weeks at a time but this year is my year. I so badly want to be healthier and fitter but I also want to do it for my mental health. I think it would be so beneficial to me to get out of the house and do something positive since I've been stuck in such a rut recently. I am really excited to don my running shoes and start pounding the pavement!

What are your New Years Resolutions for 2015?

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Monday, 22 December 2014

My Top 5 Christmas Movies

Hi everyone!
'Tis the season to be jolly and to watch as many movies as you possibly can in one day, whichever suits... One of my absolute favourite things about Christmas is all the great movies that are shown, there is nothing better after you're stuffed from your Christmas dinner than gathering round with the whole family to watch festive films. The same films are shown pretty much every year and so by now I obviously have my favourites. Here are a list of my top 5 all time favourite Christmas movies.

5. Miracle on 34th Street

4. Fred Claus

3. Elf

2.The Santa Clause

1. Home Alone

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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Unfinished Books of 2014

Hi everyone!

As I've mentioned previously I've been in a terrible reading slump since August and in that time I tried and failed to read so many books. Some of them were good and I wanted to read them but I just wasn't in the right mindset and so I put them on the back burner. Others however were just awful and I'm glad that I put them down. I generally don't feel too bad about abandoning a book although there are a few on this list that I am quite ashamed to admit I didn't finish.  Here's a list of all of the books I tried to read this year in no particular order:

Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor
At the start of the year I read another of Joseph O'Conner's books called Ghost Light which was an unexpected but fantastic read that I absolutely loved. I decided that I needed to read more of his books and so I picked this book up. It is his most noted book so I was obviously expecting it to be good and continue on with the good vibes from the previous book of his I'd read. This was not the case however and I really didn't enjoy it. The book is set on a famine ship travelling from Ireland to America during the Great Famine in Ireland. I usually love historical fiction, particularly if it's about Ireland but I found this really difficult to get into so I put it down after about 50 pages. It is a book that I'd like to pick up again so all is not lost but I think it'll be a while before this will be in my hands again.

Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera
This is one of those books that I can't for the life of me remember why I bought it. I think it had something to do with trying to read books about more diverse characters or something along those lines. It follows a young Pakistani boy living in England, who while on holiday in Pakistan visiting his family is captured by the US government and brought to Guantanamo Bay. I think I got to the second chapter of this and decided it wasn't for me. I'm not great with YA novels at best and I just couldn't put up with this for long. I won't be picking it back up again, it's new home will be the charity shop in town.

We Were Liars by E.Lockhart
This summer seemed to have been dominated by this book on Youtube. Every video I watched seemed to mention it. I wasn't going to give into the hype but I really wanted to know what all the fuss was about and so I caved. I bought it as an e-book for the Kindle app on my phone and read it when I was bored. It didn't do much for me at all and I really can't understand why everyone liked it so much. It's about a rich girl who spends her summers on her family's island and after an accident one summer, she loses her memory and has to find out what happened. I didn't get very far into the book after the accident happened because I found the main character to be insufferably whiny. The big mystery just wasn't that appealing to me and so I gave up on it. I doubt that I'll ever start reading it again.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
This one I'm a little bit embarrassed about since it is so popular. I only recently decided to put it down and try other books after months of picking it up and eventually putting it down again. I think I got about 100 pages in. It's not that I didn't like it, it's just that it was very slow and tedious to get through. The chapters are very long, there are a lot of characters and I just wasn't feeling it. I definitely want to pick it up again in the not too far off future and come back to it, refreshed and ready for a New Zealand adventure.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris
This is one of the books on my 100 Books To Read Before I Die list and so I really wanted to finish it but it was so ridiculously boring. It's about a chocolatier who moves to a small quiet town in provincial France which is ruled by the local Catholic priest who disapproves of the chocolate shop because he feels it will tempt the townspeople. Very little happens throughout the book and it was quite a disappointment. I got to about page 200 possibly and just couldn't go on.

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
I bought this book in a charity shop and was quite excited about it at the time since it is quite famous. It's a memoir of Frank McCourt's childhood growing up in poverty in Ireland. I knew it was going to be sad before I bought it but I was still willing to give it a go. Nothing could have prepared me for just how depressing it was and I only the first few pages. It was awful and I never want to open it ever again, it will most definitely be returning to the charity shop I bought it from.

There aren't as many books as I thought there'd be although maybe I'm missing a few. How many books did you leave unfinished this year and how did you feel about letting them go?

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Monday, 15 December 2014

5 TV Shows I've Been Loving This Year

Hi everyone!
This year I've been binging on a lot of TV shows and I wanted to share some of my favourites with you so that you can join me in my obsessions! Four out of five of these shows are available on Netflix if you're interested in watching them.

1. Misfits

Many of you may not be familiar with this gem of a show which is a travesty in my opinion. It first aired on E4 in 2008, with its fifth and final season airing in 2013. I wasn't able to watch this when it was first shown on TV but heard all about it from my friends so when I saw that it was available on Netflix, I jumped on it and am now on season four (I started it last week oops!). It follows the exploits of five young offenders on community service who during a freak lightening storm get given special powers that change their lives. It is hilariously funny and completely wacky which is why I love it. My favourite character by far is Nathan played by the one and only Robert Sheehan (an Irish lad of course). He is the funniest character and the show just wasn't the same when he left at the end of season two. The whole show sort of went downhill after that particularly after season three when the rest of the original cast was replaced. It is most definitely still worth a watch though!

2. Vikings

This is the only show on this list that isn't available to watch on Netflix unfortunately although I'm sure it is available elsewhere on the Internet, I watched it as it aired on TV. As you can probably guess this show documents the lives of the Vikings during their raids in England however they are far from the monsters that history depicts them as. They are much more human and have families to worry about. It's a great show that is really historically accurate. It is currently on it's second season with the third season airing next year. What I really love about this show is that all of the beautiful scenery you see is entirely shot in Ireland which is really great. I really hope you check this one out!

3.Orange is the New Black

If you haven't heard of this show, you must be living under a rock. This year it seems to have blown up and everyone was talking about since the second season was released earlier in the year. Orange is the New Black follows rich-girl, Piper Chapman who is landed in a women's prison after being convicted for drug trafficking when she was younger. Although it seems like a very heavy topic, which it is, seeing Piper try and fit in with the women in the prison is hilarious. It's not just about Piper though, we also get the back stories of each of the women in the prison which is both heartbreaking at times and also heartwarming. Unfortunately there's no release date for season three so we'll just have to wait. If you haven't seen it already, please, please do, you won't regret it!

4.The Office US

I binge watched all nine seasons of this during the summer and I don't regret a minute of it. I think that it is an absolutely genius show that everyone should watch. All of the characters and their stories are brilliant. My favourite was definitely Dwight who was just so weird and also wonderful. I'm really sad that this is over, I miss it so much, I might start watching it again!

5.Parks and Recreation

I only recently started watching this but I'm already loving it. I had seen the gifs of this show all over Tumblr which I really liked so I decided to give it a go. I haven't been racing through it like I have done previously with other shows which is better I think, I have to chance to savour it!

What shows have you been watching this year and do you have any suggestions?

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