Category Archives: Book Review

NPBC – The Night Circus

It’s time for another session of the No Pressure Book Club!

This month’s selection is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

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, 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.
To read the full description, click on the title link above!

Meeting location is Starbucks. Skinny iced peppermint mocha, please and thank you!

Unfortunately, I was unable to meet with the group last night. Driving along the route I chose to take, I noticed this:

My first thoughts were hmm something’s burning. The wildfire in Colorado came to mind. We will be traveling out there next Saturday to spend the week visiting my parents.

Getting closer to where I would get on the interstate the smoke was stronger.

The picture can not do it justice… the smoke was incredibly dark and thick, it appeared to be boiling and rolling upwards. Across the street police vehicles had traffic stopped and I thought perhaps there was a fire at an old factory area that is further down the road.

Turning onto the on-ramp for the interstate I noticed that traffic was at a standstill. Coming to the end of the ramp I could see people, out of their vehicles, standing on the road. Another vehicle was circling back around, the driver told me that there had been a wreck involving a truck and 18 wheeler.. they were on fire. To read the article of what happened click here. Following the previous vehicle, I circled and drove down the on-ramp(that in itself felt very weird.. wrong way!), making my way back to the interchange into what was an ever-growing sea of vehicle confusion. I made it home safely, grateful not to be involved in anymore than what was encountered.

This morning, Shellie – the founder of the NPBC – filled me in on some of the discussion and let me know I was missed by the group. Here are some highlights followed by my own thoughts.
** Spoiler Alert** Please do not read this section if you do not want to know any details about the book.

The group:

1. agreed they liked/loved the book. Two loved it and two of us liked it–(I’m in the liked group)

2. Poppet and Widget were beloved characters, Celia was also a favorite. Bailey was also well liked. I agree. One lady, P, believed Marco had an evil streak in him. I liked him, but didn’t care how long he strung Isobel along. I understand tho, he had a need for friendship with someone since his life lacked so little social interaction and I feel Isobel took her feelings further than Marco expressed. But he could have set clearer boundaries for their friendship/relationship.

3. wished there was more information provided about the two father/master/trainer figures and the reasoning behind and details of the duels. Also, despised the evilness in how “Prospero” treated and “trained” Celia. agreed and agreed.

4. discussed that it was a very detailed book. Yes, I really liked trying to picture the elements of the circus in my head.

5. everyone liked the ending of the book. It is believed there maybe a sequel, if not a trilogy, of the story. Speculating on what the story may continue to develop into: perhaps it gets darker, one that goes into a good vs evil theme. One lady, K, she hopes it evolves into a deeper storyline with the characters involved and to include more info on the father/master/trainer figures with more action into the account. I, too, liked the ending. Also wondered if the parts that were read as if you were in the circus was actually the story that Widget is telling, as per the request of the Man in Grey “A”, to own the circus.

The Night Circus unfolded in a different direction than I was expecting when starting it. Based on the description I imagined more: more action based duels, different uses of magic, more interactions between the two magicians, more information. However, I came to enjoy their displays and admiration of each other. The labyrinth they worked on together, each room an answer to the other’s previous design, I imagine would have been wonderful to explore. Not to mention the circus itself: the sights, sounds and smells.

Personally, I would like to read the book through again. A lot of switching back and forth occurs: of dates, of stories, and point of views. Now that I know what happens (and what not to expect) a reevaluation of the story and connecting details I may have skimmed over or not fully grasped the first read through will be interesting.

What were your thoughts about The Night Circus? Anything in particular stand out to you?


NPBC – Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

Initially, when browsing books to choose from, at our first meeting this title jumped out at me. I adore Jane Austen’s novels and characters so something that has a potential link to her or her works generates a spark of immediate interest.

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler to be our first read. Being that I work in a library the very next day I checked to see if we had it on hand. Checked  out — drats! I decided quickly to purchase the book via Kindle app on my iPad. I couldn’t wait to delve into the plot. The summary had me enticed at what possibilities lay ahead.

Courtney Stone, after suffering humiliation at the hands of her fiance, falls asleep reading a favorite Jane Austen novel and wakes up in bedroom that doesn’t belong to her. In fact, she wakes up to find she is in a different person’s body — in another century! Believing herself in a dream she is indifferent to her predicament.
Quickly the importance of carrying on as who she appears to be, Jane Mansfield, is impressed upon her if she is to survive in this time period. Courtney, while trying to blend in and understand the requirements of the time she is in, also searches for how she can get back to Los Angeles and her own life.

SPOILERPlease do not read further if you plan to read this book!

In the beginning I was intrigued as to how events would unfold and eager to see what Courtney would experience. But I became disappointed with this character. While she proclaimed to be an avid fan of Jane Austen’s works, her actions and thoughts didn’t seem to show it. I imagine that if any of us would somehow be transported to the nineteenth century that, yes, it would be a shock and we would definitely not know how to react to a lot of things. (e.g. dinner customs, phrases of language, bathing, and other hygiene matters) Although how she thought and acted towards men she found attractive, would someone who is “well-versed” in Austen act that way without thinking of what the implications could be? It just struck me as odd.

Another thing was constant comparison of Wes to Charles. Did they have a connection?

Her discussion with the fortune-teller only brought more questions. Was she saying that an identity could be fluid and wherever your focus is at the time is who you are? Had she been Jane all along, as well as Courtney? Since James referenced that Jane “always did talk like that” when it came to rank and people’s station in life according to their family. Along with the stories of Abraham Lincoln and Rosa Parks.

Then there is the diary letter at the end — where she admits to have forgotten most everything. That Charles reminded her that she had “the gift of story” and wanted to hear again the story she told him on their wedding journey. After that, it’s all just a story to her and she mentions her “whispering to me at odd times and telling me her tales.”

I feel that, without a firm explanation given, the ending felt rushed and confusing. I was disappointed to the point where I decided reading the sequel was not on my to-do list. At least not any time soon.

The No Pressure Book Club met Thursday, May 17, at Corner Bakery Cafe to discuss our thoughts about Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.

After only a few minutes it was apparent we all shared the same opinion.

Although enjoying small points — bathing and hygiene customs — being brought out that might not be thought of while reading Austen novels, we were disappointed in the book. We agreed that the explanation of what happened (or lack-of), especially the ending, seemed as if the words just ran circles around each other and did not make much sense. One of the ladies said that, while reading the ending, she felt the author thought of the readers as stupid due to how she left the ending of the book.

Have you read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict ? What were your thoughts?

I’m holding out hope that our next title – The Night Circus – I will enjoy more!

I chose a slice of lemon pound cake and brought home a chocolate baby bundt cake for Ken. His won the best treat of the night award in my book.