REVIEW: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I feel like it’s a lot harder to read a book you think you should like more that you do than a bad book you went into with low expectations. The Night Circus is definitely a book I went into hoping I would love, and unfortunately one I came out of a lot more disappointed than if I hadn’t had those expectations to begin with because I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it and I felt it had decent potential, but at the same time I also saw some pretty crucial flaws in it and I think its popularity exacerbated those flaws and made them all the more irritating to me. After all this was a hugely popular book, and not just with the kind of audience that I might expect to love books that maybe aren’t quite my thing (*cough* every YA bestseller *cough*). Nope this book was lauded by people whose opinions I thought generally matched my own so I went in with the impression that The Night Circus was supposed to be a Great Book. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it to be one, and as I was reading it I became more and more baffled as to why everyone who given it glowing reviews couldn’t see the problems I saw in it. As a result those problems because more and more irritating and obvious, because I wasn’t expecting them to be there.

The Night Circus ostensibly revolves around two characters, Marco and Celia, who both exhibit some kind of magical powers and have both been prepared from childhood for a ‘game’ in which they must use this magic in competition with an opponent. Eventually the two meet through their shared connection to Le Cirque du Rêves, a black and white circus that only opens in the dark and then the game begins…

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BOOK CLUB: Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

We’re one bud down for this month’s slightly delayed book club in which we look at Helen Fielding’s third book in the Bridget Jones series Mad About the Boy. Fielding’s iconic heroine is now a single mother in her fifties and just stepping back into the dating game in the internet age.

SPOILER WARNING: The following post contains major spoilers for the plot of Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy.

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Why so glum, chum? 5(ish) books to turn that frown upside down

We all have bad days. It starts raining on the way to work on the one day you’ve left your umbrella at home. The soup you made for lunch makes a break for it, leaking out of your bag, coating all your things with a mustard coloured tint and a lovely lentil aroma for days. An orange, sour-faced, racist, misogynistic, homophobic reality TV star is elected the next President of America. You know, little things like that, which tend to build up over the course the day until all you want to do is curl up in bed with a multipack of Maltesers and a cup of tea and hope that the sun will come out tomorrow (literally and metaphorically.) It is for these categorically awful days that I have compiled the below list of books, which always cheer me up without fail, and remind me that the world can be a beautiful, funny and wonderful place. And even when it’s not, you can escape into a book for a few hours and pretend that everything’s OK (the literary version of sticking your fingers in your ears and singing loudly and incoherently.) Wilful ignorance my friends! It’s the only way forward. I’ve even split the list up into various genres, in case you’re like me and enjoy a bit of variety with your escapism. Enjoy!

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TIE-IN TUESDAY: Night of the Living Rerun by Arthur Byron Cover

Remember back in the first Tie-In Tuesday post I compared the tie in novel to fanfiction? Well, this week we reach the dark side of that parallel, because this particular tie-in novel is like bad fanfiction, hampered by the same problems that drag down so many of its less dignified sister-form. It’s hard to know where to start with the negatives here, from the confusing plot, nonsensical pacing or almost complete lack of continuity with the Buffy television series and its characters.

Night of the Living Rerun is the third novel from the expanded Buffyverse; its plot revolves around the Master’s attempt to rise from beneath Sunnydale through repeating the ascension of a demon called the Despised One in witchhunt-era Salem. Cue reincarnation and visions ahoy for almost everyone.

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REVIEW: Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman

BEWARE – SPOILERS AHEAD

The day you buy your first teen fiction book is a BIG DEAL and I remember mine perfectly. Standing in Waterstones, eleven years old with pocket money in hand and my mum behind me inspecting what I was going to pick. My choice? Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. I then continued to read the subsequent three books in the series and loved them all. Much like Noughts and Crosses, Chasing the Stars is a dual narrative between Vee (Olivia) and Nathan. Two people who are from very different backgrounds. Noughts and Crosses is well known for its discussion on race which adds massively to the depth of the story, and Blackman does the same in Chasing the Stars however this time the big issue is class. In an interview with The Guardian Blackman said ‘I set it in 2164 … I thought about whether there would still be the same preoccupations with race. I would hope not. But I think there will definitely still be a class problem’, hence Blackman’s move towards class. Supposedly based on Shakespeare’s Othello, the story brings a modern day take on class, revenge, desire and manipulation.

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BOOK CLUB: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

For this month’s book club we decided to get into the Halloween spirit by reading Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Regarded as one of the best 20th century ghost stories this story follows a group of paranormal investigators as they spend the summer in a supposedly haunted house with a dark past and begin to experience some seriously strange goings on.

As with last month’s book club we ended up with some wildly different opinions.

SPOILER WARNING: The following post contains major spoilers for the plot of The Haunting of Hill House.

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TIE-IN TUESDAY: Coyote Moon by John Vornholt

Welcome back to Tie-In Tuesday, where every other week I take a peek into the weird and wonderful world of TV tie-in novels. This time I’m looking at the second novel in the expanded Buffyverse, Coyote Moon by John Vornholt. Coyote Moon was published on 1st January 1998 while Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s second season was airing on the WB, but is, like its predecessor Halloween Rain, set during its first. The plot revolves around a group of supernatural coyotes that come to Sunnydale alongside a travelling carnival staffed by unusually good-looking workers and their connection to an old mausoleum containing the remains of a former Wild West star…

SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the plot of Coyote Moon.

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SPOOKY SUNDAY: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

For today, on the eve of Halloween I feel I’ve saved the best til last. I first bought Something Wicked This Way Comes last year with the intention to read it for that Halloween, however I found myself taking too long reading my previous book and ended up saving it for this year instead. So I had a year’s worth of anticipation built for this book and I’m glad to say it lived up to my expectations.

Something Wicked This Way Comes features one of the most famous examples of the creepy carnival as it rides in to town the week before Halloween and two boys, Jim and Will, try to protect the town and ultimately themselves from its malign influence.

SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the plot of Something Wicked This Way Comes. 

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SPOOKY SUNDAY: Fangland by John Marks

For this, the penultimate Spooky Sunday, I read Fangland by John Marks which earns the not entirely complimentary honour of being the weirdest book I’ve read this year by far. Fangland is a sort of modern retelling of Dracula which follows Evangeline Harker, an associate producer on America’s biggest news programme as she goes to set up an interview with a mysterious man rumoured to be the head of crime in Eastern Europe and disappears in Transylvania. The book then splits between Evangeline’s experiences and those of her colleagues back in America as strange things begin to happen in their offices.

SPOILER WARNING: The below review contains moderate spoilers for the plot of Fangland.

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Review: Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

The Belgian is back!

Hercule Poirot is one of the most memorable literary detectives of all time. Poet Sophie Hannah has taken on the character in her new Agatha Christie style Poirot series. Her new Poirot story, Closed Casket, sees the Belgian detective solve a bizarre and brutal murder in the house of children’s author Athelinda Playford. Taking on such an iconic character is never going to be easy.

And I’m not about to make it any easier. See what a die-hard Christie fan has to say about this Poirot revival.

Major spoilers under the cut!

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