Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Reviews - Sharp Objects, The Night Circus, Trigger Warning, and More - February 2015

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I've been thinking about this book all month and thinking about what to say, but in the end, I'm not sure what to write, because my brain feels too full of the intense imagery. When I say intense, I mean description-laden, chewy-gerund, detail-driven prose that paints such a gorgeous picture, it's really impossible to ignore. While many of the characters are interesting, and the plot (though it meanders somewhat) is curious, the real star here is Le Cirque de Reves, which is to say, Morgenstern's dazzling descriptions of the circus.

Morgenstern has created a magical Victorian setting in a brilliant chiaroschuro of black and white with steampunk trimmings on which to stage a Prestige-like contest that morphs into a forbidden love. I have no idea what genre this book would fit into, and that's fine with me.

I found the book difficult to engage with on a plot level at the beginning. I never struggled with the descriptions; the prose is just lovely. I just couldn't figure out what it was all FOR. It felt that the book had some faltering missteps in the beginning, BUT it all fell together for me in the end. In fact, I think it has a built-in second read. Now that I know how it all fits together, I want to go back and explore it again.

In fact, I was so taken with the book as a whole that when I finished it, I penned (keyed) a letter (email) to the fictional proprietor of Le Cirque de Reves using the email address provided in the text. A circus attraction in the story brought up some things I've been working on in therapy, so I wrote a little about that. I wonder if he'll write me back...

Highly recommended.

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

You've all heard me expound on the subject of Neil's brilliance. While he is extremely prolific, with fingers in almost every kind of art and entertainment pie, I find that he is at his strongest -- or that I like his work most -- when he's writing comic books, fiction for middle grade, or short stories. I adore Neil's short stories.

Trigger Warning is Neil's newest collection of short fiction and verse. It's difficult to say which piece I liked most in this collection. Without a doubt, the most disturbing story is Feminine Endings, followed by Click-Clack-The-Rattlebag, and you know I love a good disturbing tale. I loved his Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who fanfics, and while I followed his Calendar of Tales when they were first introduced online, it was really a pleasure to enjoy them again in print. That story about the ducks has been stuck on reply in my brain since winter 2012. 

Neils expertise is undeniable, and the worlds he creates beg to be visited again and again.

Highly recommended.

Warnings on: language, thematic material, sexual situations.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Reporter Camille Preaker, following a recent stay in a psychiatric ward, is called on assignment to her hometown to investigate the deaths of preteen girls. She stays in her childhood home, with her high-strung mother and teen half-sister, determined to keep her own dark past at bay while she does her best to unravel the mysterious and disturbing murders.

This book is just as twisted and disturbing and dark as Gone Girl.

I loved it.

Not for sensitive readers.

These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

When their luxury spaceliner is pulled out of hyperspace and crashes, heiress Lilac and soldier Tarver are thrown together as they attempt to survive the harsh landscape of an uncharted planet. They face starvation, infection, exposure, and the strange presence of an unknowable force that threatens Lilac's fragile psyche.

This is YA sci-fi with a distinctly space-opera feel. I'm not a huge fan of romance, and there was a lot of romance here, but I think that the target YA audience would love it. 

And honestly, this book cover is absolutely gorgeous.

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