#FictionFriday: The Night Circus

Hey book lovers!!! It’s Friday which means another #FictionFriday. It’s been a while since I’ve read this one but boy, has it stuck with me.

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them, and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”

51gfkfjupcl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is all about two young magicians, Celia and Marco, trained since childhood to duel. Suddenly, a circus appears as if from nowhere. Only open at night, it becomes the battleground for Celia and Marco. But neither of them could expect the relationship that would blossom between them. Now they must face their mentors and the fact that only one of them will come out of this alive.

Morgenstern poetically creates a world in which the reader will not want to leave. Magic occurs with every turn of the page. It is almost impossible not to imagine this fantastical world that Morgenstern has written into existence. I have a hard time picking a favorite book (because I have so many) but The Night Circus is definitely at the top of my list. This one will leave you spellbound!

All We Had

IMG-1718My mom is my best friend. We hadn’t always been that way but our relationship has grown to be that way. I know without a doubt she would do anything for me. As a mother myself, I would do anything for my kids.

Rita and Ruthie have a similar relationship. They have been dealt a crappy hand and life just keeps pushing them further down. Constantly on the brink of homelessness, Rita jumps from beau to beau in the hopes of keeping a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. But she eventually gets bored and it’s time to move on. Until one day she leaves a man and they find themselves broken down just outside of Fat River, NY.  Not having the means to fix their vehicle, they wind up working at Tiny’s, a small diner with a gas station run by a quiet man named Mel. There they find themselves in the midst of Peter Pam, a crossdressing waitress, and Arlene, the head waitress who gets hot flashes so severe she must find relief in the walk-in refrigerator.

Mother and daughter soon find themselves on an upswing. They’re making money, making friends, and eventually even have a roof over their heads. But it isn’t long before life deals another blow and Rita must find another unsuspecting man to provide for them. But this man is not one she’s dealt with before and things are at risk. How much will she sacrifice in order to keep them fed and housed?

All We Had is a beautiful telling of a mother-daughter relationship developing in the edges of poverty and reaching for the ultimate American Dream. Annie Weatherwax charms the reader with unique characters that bring laughter and heartache in her storytelling. While ultimately I enjoyed All We Had, I found it difficult to fall into Weatherwax’s writing style and cadence. But once I found a rhythm, I found I couldn’t stop reading. At only 257 pages, it was quick once I got into it. For all those daughters out there who are best friends with their mom, or for the moms that love their daughter unconditionally, definitely pick this one up!

#FictionFriday: The Age of Miracles

Welcome book lovers to the second installment of #FictionFriday!!!!

Coming-of-age novels have never really been my thing but I always manage to read at least one each year. I’m always surprised by how much they stick with me. But this one in particular really stuck with me. Perhaps it’s because there’s a bit of sci-fi mixed in.

age-of-miraclesThe Age of Miracles follows young Julia and her family as they face catastrophe, survival, and growth. One Saturday morning, Julia wakes to find that the world has suddenly stopped its rotation. Days and nights become longer, gravity is affected, everything is in disarray. In true coming-of-age style, Julia deals with distance between her parents and herself, first loves, betrayal, friends acting strangely. All of this on top of the changes happening in the world.

Karen Thompson Walker creates a beautiful story of a young girl facing the truth of life goes on even when the world has literally stopped.

I highly encourage you to add this to your reading list. I was blown away by Walker’s writing style with beautiful prose. This is a book that will stick with you long after you’ve read it. I find myself wanting to pick it up again and again.

#FictionFriday: New Beginnings

Hey book lovers!

So I’m starting something new this month with #FictionFriday (waits for applause). Basically, every Friday I’ll be posting about a fiction book I think should be on your bookshelf. Maybe even give you a nudge to go out and buy it over the weekend. Who knows?

Starting out our #FictionFriday, I’d like to talk about A Man Called Ove. Y’all, this book hit me hard. It made me feel and you guys know how much I love a book that makes me feel.

81EQHE097eLA Man Called Ove is all about a curmudgeon (how fun is that word?) who’s world is suddenly invaded by new next door neighbors: a young couple and their two chatty daughters. Told through the budding relationship between Ove and the two girls, we see a man who has felt heartache and had a rough life.

Fredrik Backman fills these pages with sadness and comedy, making it easy to fall in love with the characters. By the end of the book, you’ll look at all the grumpy old men in the world differently.

If you haven’t picked this one up yet, I highly encourage you to check it out! It’s a fast read with a great story.

If you have any recommendations for #FictionFriday, feel free to suggest them here.

The Children

20170804_105908This book was difficult for me to get through. Not so much that it was a heavy read but more that it didn’t hold my interest. For those that know me, I’m a completionist, which comes in handy when I need to finish a book but just can’t find anything to keep me hooked.

The Children tells the story of a jigsaw family, one that has been split up and put back together but not quite correctly. The pieces sort of fit but there’s still some dissonance amongst them. Especially when Spin brings home his new fiance Laurel. In a family where no one talks about anything and secrets are being kept, how can a family move on from the past?

Ann Leary gives a cast of characters not quite unique and a story that for the first fourteen chapters doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Nothing seems to really happen until the last four chapters of the book. By that point, I had kind of given up hope on the story. I was never quite sure where Mrs. Leary was going with this family or what the endgame was. In the end, it was a mediocre story with an ending that seemed to be rushed and half-hearted.

The Handmaid’s Tale

9780525435006_p0_v1_s192x300I’ve wanted to read this book for quite some time. And with the release of the Hulu series, my desire to read it increased. So when my friend and I were putting together our book club list, we both had it at the top of our choices. I can see why it has taken the world by storm and especially in light of recent political events.

The Handmaid’s Tale drops you into a world where things have drastically changed. The Constitution is no longer in effect and religion rules. We follow a woman, a Handmaid, named Offred. Although that’s not her real name, but women now are called by their “owner’s” name. Women are no longer allowed to read, or write, or even form friendships. The Handmaids are even more strict about what women can and can’t do because the Handmaids have the important task of procreation.

It’s hard not to read this novel and see how the world could come to this point. Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale in 1986 and it holds lessons that are true even now. The characters are unique and it’s quite easy to become attached to our main character. While Atwood does a wonderful job portraying “what could be”, my one complaint is that the ending is too sudden. Understandably so, but I wish we had more to go on. I wish that at least a good majority of the loose-ends were tied up. While I would have prefered a more solid ending, I can’t ignore how timeless this story is.

The Thirteenth Tale

81KOIdTwCVLWhen I picked up The Thirteenth Tale, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The blurb on the back doesn’t give much for a reader to go on which I suppose adds to the mystery of the book itself. I’d never read any of Diane Setterfield’s work and was curious as to her writing style and storytelling abilities. Honestly, I’m so glad that this is the first of her books that I picked up.

The Thirteenth Tale is an intriguing novel of twins. We’re introduced to Margaret Lea, a young woman who works in her father’s antique bookshop as well as being an amateur biographer. One day she is contacted by the elusive Vida Winter, the world’s most prolific storyteller. Miss Winter has also never told her true story to anyone. But suddenly, she’s decided to tell everything to Margaret. As her story unfolds, Margaret finds that amidst the mystery of this author, they have something in common.

Setterfield manages to create a web of intrigue among all of the characters. She picks at your brain and carries you through this mystery until the very end. All in all, a very unique story and one I would highly recommend, especially to book lovers.

This Too Shall Pass

41q362Ic4QL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Have you ever wondered how your life would change once your parents are gone? For daughters, when their mom passes away we lose more than a parent, we lose a friend as well. This Too Shall Pass explores a daughter’s grief as she handles her mother’s passing with the help of some odd characters.

Milena Busquets attempts to tell a story of romance, grief, and laughter. However, she falls short. In this small book, just over 130 pages, she drags on and on about Blanquita’s grief. I had a hard time getting through this book and didn’t enjoy it. There were far too many characters with their own problems to keep track of. While her writing style is commendable, there wasn’t much to enjoy about the story itself. I could not feel Blanquita’s grief or her loss of control as she dealt with the death of her mother. It was hard to get attached to any of the characters in this story.

That being said, if you’re looking for a short book to grab and read, This Too Shall Pass may be the book for you. Just be sure you have the gumption to push through and finish it.

The Shack

ShackoverAs I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never been big on reading Christian-based books. Not even just Christian but religious books in general. The fiction ones come off too cheesy most of the time and the non-fiction ones are just too dry. So when my mother begged me to read The Shack, I was a little reluctant. I’d heard quite a bit about the book especially now that there is a movie on it and it hadn’t really struck my fancy. But I thoroughly enjoy discussing books with my mom, so I gave it a shot.

I have never read a more emotionally exhausting book. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. I’ve never had a book break me apart and put me back together in new ways. It was exhilarating and saddening all at the same time.

The Shack tells the story of Mackenzie “Mack” Allen Phillips and his “Great Sadness”. Three years earlier, he took his kids camping for a weekend. The day they are to leave, his youngest daughter goes missing and can’t be found. Mack carries this sadness with him for years, his children suffer from the loss of their sister, and his wife is just trying to keep the family together. Until one day, Mack receives a note in the mailbox signed by “Papa”, the name his wife calls God, asking him to go back to where his sadness all began. Is this some cruel trick played by a neighbor? Or is God really asking Mack to face his past?

Ultimately, Mack decides to go back to the shack and find what awaits him there. By doing so, Mack opens himself up to a healing like no other and a learning experience many will never believe.

William P. Young writes a marvelous tale of sadness, anger, forgiveness, and finding out what love really means. The Shack forces you to reexamine your relationship with God, whether you have one or not, and question all the things you thought you knew about religion. I can’t recommend this book enough, but fair warning, be sure you have plenty of tissues handy.

Eleanor

Bookshot_Spine_MedHave you ever read H.P. Lovecraft? You know how his books like to toy with your mind? I always find I get “brain cringes” when I read his books because I feel like someone has taken my mind and played with it. I love that feeling, but at the same time I don’t.

Jason Gurley’s Eleanor reminds me quite a bit of Lovecraft’s work, however, less creepy. In Eleanor, we’re introduced to a multitude of characters, all deeply connected in one way or another. Eleanor is a young mother who abandons her daughter and husband on a stormy night. Years later, her daughter, Agnes, has a family of her own. On another stormy day, tragedy strikes and tears the family apart. Now her daughter, Eleanor, must find a way to put her family back together if they’re ever to have a chance at happiness.

Gurley manages to take a tale and twist it into something completely different. Eleanor is unlike anything you’ve read before. Simultaneously dealing with teenagedom, family tragedy, depression, and fantasy, Eleanor is a book you won’t want to put down. With hints of mystery and saving a family, Eleanor begs the question: what if you could push a reset button? What lengths would you go to in order to bring happiness back to your family?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.