Thursday, August 30, 2012

{Review} The Night Circus: A Novel by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus: A Novel by Erin Morgenstern
Published by Doubleday, 2011
Hardcover, 387 pages
ISBN 0385534639
Genres: adult fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, magic, magical realism, paranormal, romance, YA

Summary (via Goodreads): 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 RĂªves, 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. Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

My review: I enjoyed The Night Circus reasonably well. The descriptions of the circus creators’ parties, the circus itself, and the cities visited are marvelous. The characters are interesting and the lengthy span of time covered in the novel allows the reader to get to know them better than would otherwise be possible. The story is very involved with certain aspects becoming clearer and others more complicated the farther into the book you get. The circus is a magnificent creation on the part of the author and she clearly describes it so as to give the reader the feeling that they are really there eating licorice mice, visiting the striped tents, and being mesmerized by the magical shows found within.

My two favorite characters are Bailey Clarke, a young circus-goer, and Herr Friedrick Thiessen, a clockmaker. They are, I feel, the real heroes of the story and about the only ones I feel empathy for. Bailey is 10 years old the first time he visits the circus, immediately falling in love with it. Herr Thiessen develops such a deep connection with the circus that he begins writing articles about it and inadvertently forms a circus-lovers club of sorts. The rest of the characters are, as I mentioned, interesting, but I rarely felt any strong emotions towards them or about anything they did. I think one issue is a lack of character development. Celia and Marco don’t seem to ever change, and their parts in the ending were predictable and a little lackluster. Poppet and Widget, twins born into the circus, are sweet but they don’t significantly change either even though almost their whole lives are chronicled off and on.

The style of the book was rather aggravating and the constant jumping between characters, from city to city, and back and forth (and back and forth and back again) in time got very annoying. I enjoy books that jump around in time a bit and/or have flashbacks, etc. but this was just too much, especially since a whole “chapter” of the book would frequently only be one to two pages long. I feel that with a slightly more linear time frame my reading experience would have been greatly improved.

I suppose, though, my biggest problem with this book involves the basis of the plot: the magicians’ duel. What exactly was the point? The man in the grey suit (Alexander) and Prospero the Magician pit the two young people against each other, but why? What is their history? How many times have they done this? Was Prospero involved in one such duel earlier in his life? How old are they, anyway? Tsukiko enlightens the reader somewhat with her personal account and in one of the last sections of the book Widget and Alexander sit down together and talk, the latter giving a very slight explanation for what the duel was all about. Other than that, though, there really isn’t much information given. I don’t know if the author thought up this amazing premise and then had a hard time following through, or if she and her editor felt they couldn’t make the book any longer (it’s only 387 pages, though), or what happened, but I am pretty disappointed. I don’t hate this book by any means, and I would be interested in reading anything else Ms. Morgenstern writes next, but I don’t have any strong positive feelings about it either. The only people I would recommend this book to are those who are fast readers, have a good deal of patience, and already love fantasy and magic.

I would love to hear your thoughts on The Night Circus below and thank you so much for stopping by!

Mary Beth

Monday, August 27, 2012

{Review} The Mysterious Benedict Society (The Mysterious Benedict Society #1) by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Mysterious Benedict Society (The Mysterious Benedict Society #1) by Trenton Lee Stewart
Published by Little, Brown and Company, 2007
Hardcover, 492 pages
ISBN 0316057770
Genres: adventure, children's fiction, fantasy, mystery, science fiction, YA

Synopsis (via Goodreads): "Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules. As our heroes face physical and mental trials beyond their wildest imaginations, they have no choice but to turn to each other for support. But with their newfound friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all? Welcome to the Mysterious Benedict Society.

My review: This is a cute book with fun characters and a very quirky adventure. Reynie, Sticky, Kate and Constance, the four children who one way or another pass the tests, make a great team, every child having unique strengths and weaknesses that make each essential to the others. Reynie is easiest to identify with and it is his perspective the narrative is most frequently told from. I like Reynie a lot, what with his sweet temperament, intelligence, occasional melancholia, and fierce loyalty. The rest of the children are much more far-fetched, though Sticky is quite lovable, Kate brave, and Constance hilariously stubborn. Mr. Benedict is the mastermind behind the tests and the mission the children must go on, and while he is a very likable character he is hard to get to know from the reader's perspective. I suppose as far as Mr. Benedict goes, I was expecting better character development. I hope, though, that since this book is only the first in a series the author has in later books evolved his character to a much more satisfactory degree as well as given the reader more history on him.

The story line meanders along pretty slowly, and while the ending is decent it is inevitable and lacking in excitement. I understand this is children's/YA fiction, so it's not going to be an on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller, but I was expecting something a little more lively. Also, this book is almost 500 pages long and tells a story that, with a good editor, could easily have been told in 200-300 pages. I enjoyed this book but it didn't inspire strong feelings in me, hence the three star rating. I plan on reading the other three books in the series because the first did inspire curiosity, I really like the illustrations, and I'm hoping that Mr. Stewart has resolved some of the issues present in the first. If you really like A Series of Unfortunate Events, Roald Dahl's children's fiction, The Borrowers books, etc. and have a lively imagination and a semblance of patience, I suggest you read The Mysterious Benedict Society. If faster-paced adventure/fantasy books such as the Harry Potter or Percy Jackson  series are more your thing, though, I would probably pass on this one.
Mary Beth

Friday, August 24, 2012

{Frabjous Friday #2}

Frabjous Friday is a feature in which I share books I have recently borrowed, won, been given, or purchased. Well, I haven't entered any book giveaways in quite some time, it wasn't my birthday or Christmas, and I'm a little on the broke side. So this week I went to the amazing public library... :)

Genres: adventure, children's fiction, fantasy, magic, paranormal, science fiction, YA

This is the fifth in a series of seven (the seventh coming out in 2013!) and I can't wait to read it. Or numbers  6 and 7 for that matter. I adore Septimus, Beetle, Jenna, and Nicko, and the adventures they go on are fun and suspenseful. I love the way magic works in these books and the roles the wizards and witches and other creatures play. This is an imaginative series in which the later books have been as good as the first; a trend I fully expect to continue.

The Dream Stealer by Gregory Maguire

Genres: children's fiction, fairy tales, fantasy, science fiction, YA

I really like Gregory Maguire but it's rather hit or miss with his books. I love the Wicked Years series but am not such a fan of some of his others. I would like to read all of his works, though, plus this is a really small book, so I thought I would give it a chance. I'll let you know how it is!

Genres: adult fiction, contemporary fiction, mystery, suspense, thriller

Jack and I discovered the television show Bones early summer 2011 and it immediately became one of our all-time favorite series. Ever since then I have been meaning to read the books on which the show is based. I finally picked one up this week and can't wait to start it. I have heard there are quite a few differences between the two but that each are good in their own way. Thoughts on the books vs. the show? I'd love to hear them!

I don't include very many books in my Frabjous Friday feature because I only borrow what I'm fairly confident I'll be able to read in a week or so (what with school starting, having an active little boy, etc.). I don't want to get a stack of books, feature them, not read them, and then never mention them again. This seems like the most prudent plan, but please feel free to let me know what you think (the good and the bad!) and any suggestions you may have. Thanks for stopping by bibliophyte and have an awesomely Frabjous day!
 Mary Beth

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

{Review} What-the-Dickens by Gregory Maguire

Published by Candlewick Press, 2007
Hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN 0763629618
Genres: children's fiction, fairy tales, fantasy, magic, paranormal, urban fantasy, YA

Synopsis (via Goodreads): A terrible storm is raging, and Dinah is huddled by candlelight with her brother, sister, and cousin Gage, who is telling a very unusual tale. It’s the story of What-the-Dickens, a newly hatched orphan creature who finds he has an attraction to teeth, a crush on a cat named McCavity, and a penchant for getting into trouble. One day he happens upon a feisty girl skibberee working as an Agent of Change — trading coins for teeth — and learns of a dutiful tribe of tooth fairies to which he hopes to belong. As his tale unfolds, however, both What-the-Dickens and Dinah come to see that the world is both richer and far less sure than they ever imagined.

My review: This is a difficult book to review. I adore What-the-Dickens and Pepper, and much of his/their story is extremely charming and sweet. The narrative about Dinah and her siblings and Gage, however, was simply hard to get into and doesn't make a lot of sense. It also takes up way too much of the book without any kind of satisfactory character or plot development or even a decent resolution. In addition, I'm rather disappointed in Mr. Maguire because it would seem that he modeled the children after religious and homeschooling stereotypes without a lot of first-hand knowledge of such lifestyles. The reason I say this is because not every homeschooling family breeds religious fanatics, a family's religion or faith is not always the motivation for homeschooling, and homeschooled is not necessarily synonymous with antisocial. To be honest, I'm not sure what his point is regarding the children's upbringing because the story would be much greater served without all of the extra religious/sheltered angst.

The story Gage tells about the skibbereen, on the other hand, is fun, magical and feels much more like a proper fairy tale. I love old Mrs. Gangster and her collection of morbid books (gifts from her family), the mama grisset and her maternal affection for What-the-Dickens, and the tooth-achy Bengal tiger, Maharajah. The skibbereen are an awesome and very imaginative creation, and What-the-Dickens and Pepper, what with their evolution and growth throughout the story, have enormous potential for further adventures. 

Unfortunately, in addition to the problems mentioned above there is an awkward disjointedness between the two stories, absolutely unbelievable dialogue among the children and Gage, more cheesy and inept adults than you'll find in an episode of Scooby-Doo, and long dull stretches that interrupt and ruin the suspense and magic of What-the-Dickens' story. As much as I enjoyed the fairy tale bits, I had a hard time mustering up enough enthusiasm to even give this book two stars. I am very disappointed in What-the-Dickens and to be honest, I can't think of anyone I would recommend it to.

Mary Beth

Monday, August 20, 2012

{Review} The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind (El cementerio de los libros olvidados #1) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; translated by Lucia Graves
Published by The Penguin Press HC, 2004 (originally published 2001)
Hardcover, 487 pages
ISBN 1594200106
Genres: adult fiction, fantasy, gothic novel, historical fiction, literary fiction, mystery, philosophy, thriller

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Barcelona, 1945—just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn’t find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.

My review: This novel is fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. I knew it would be one of this year's favorites before I was half-way through it. Between the fascinating story line, well-developed characters, and elegant style, The Shadow of the Wind is hard to compete with. What initially drew me in was discovering it is a book about books: a mysterious and secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books and a certain volume discovered within.  The main protagonist, Daniel, enthusiastically delves into this previously-forgotten novel and begins unraveling the mystery of its tormented author, leading to a years-long quest culminating in a stunning ending. This book is part adventure story, part mystery, part historical drama, part thriller, with a sprinkling of fantastical elements and philosophical questions. In addition, it is Daniel's coming-of-age story, bittersweet in that the reader re-experiences all of the doubts, questions and fears of growing up. It is, in my opinion, the perfect cross-genre piece.

The characters evolve and develop, becoming richer and more familiar the farther into the book the reader gets. They are unpredictable and so very human, each with their own temperaments, faults and dreams. I love that although Daniel is the main protagonist, the author has labored to make each and every character unique and indispensable to the plot. The cast of characters is pretty large, though instead of becoming a hindrance for the reader it simply makes the novel that much more enjoyable. Daniel is one of my favorite characters because he is compassionate, curious, and intelligent. Another favorite character would have to be Fermin, a man whom Daniel literally stumbles upon who has been living on the streets. He has an extremely shadowy past, more aliases than you can count, and a case of PTSD that would land a lesser man in a sanitarium (or worse); and yet, through it all, he has an indomitable spirit and an admirable code of honor.

This novel is set mainly in Barcelona, Spain with a small portion taking place in Paris, France. The imagery is incredible and it is obvious the author, who was born in Barcelona, is extremely knowledgeable about its geography. The streets of the two cities literally come alive and while I have always wanted to travel in Europe, my desire has rarely been stronger than while I was reading this novel. It was fascinating to read about life in Barcelona immediately following the Spanish Civil War: the still-apparent signs of destruction, the fragile state of politics on every level, the drudgery of a struggling economy, the deaths of loved ones still hanging in the air. The complexity and multi-faceted nature of The Shadow of the Wind is stunning.

I would strongly recommend reading this book; it is one I would love to own myself. I originally thought it was a stand-alone but am thrilled to report it is actually the first in a series! El cementerio de los libros olvidados (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books) series includes The Shadow of the Wind (#1), of course, The Angel's Game (#2), The Prisoner of Heaven (#3), and The Rose of Fire (#.5), the last being a short story available only in ebook form. I cannot wait to read and review the entire series, as well as Carlos Ruiz Zafon's other works.
Mary Beth

Friday, August 17, 2012

{Frabjous Friday #1}

I have decided to resurrect my Frabjous Friday feature! For a while it was a meme of sorts in which I shared cool things I had recently discovered on Etsy or wherever else I had been browsing about. While it was fun and some of it was book-themed, that's not exactly relevant to what I'm doing with bibliophyte now.

Therefore, Frabjous Friday has been reborn as a weekly feature in which I will share the books I have recently won, been given, borrowed, or purchased. Before I dive into this past week's loot, though, let us take a moment to examine the word Frabjous.

Frabjous: adj a word imagined up by Lewis Carroll and used to describe a happy day; ex, as read in Jabberwocky: O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Now that we all feel better because of the magic of nonsense words, on to the loot!

From the (amazing) local library:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Genres: fantasy, romance, adult fiction, historical fiction, magic, YA, magical realism

This is what I'm starting as soon as I'm done with this post. (Even though I really should start writing another review *ahem*.) I have been wanting to read this for ages but never had the opportunity because it was always checked out at the library. It is a beautiful book and has provoked a whole spectrum of reactions, so I really can't wait :)

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Genres: fantasy, magical realism, women's fiction, romance, paranormal, adult fiction

I ran across this the other day and thought I'd give it a try since I enjoyed Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers so much. (I apologize for the terrible quality of the cover photo.)

Genres: mystery, children's fiction, YA, historical fiction fantasy

I have wanted to read this book ever since I first saw the cover on Goodreads. The illustrations are fabulous and it's gotten pretty good reviews on Goodreads. I really hope it lives up to my expectations.

Purchased from my local used bookstore

Genres: paranormal, vampires, horror, fantasy, occult, adult fiction

I have read the first three volumes in The Vampire Chronicles (Interview With the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, and Queen of the Damned) and loved them (though I really need to re-read them, and in order this time, ha). It's a series I would really like to own, so I have decided to buy them when I see hardback copies in great condition and reasonably priced. This fit the bill even if it is #10, i.e.: the last one. Oh well, I'll get the whole series eventually and until then I can just borrow them from the (awesome) library.

I'd love to know what you think of these books and please feel free to share what you've recently acquired! I hope you have a Frabjous Friday!
Mary Beth

Thursday, August 16, 2012

{Review} The Color of Magic (Discworld #1) by Terry Pratchett

The Color of Magic (Discworld #1) by Terry Pratchett
Published by HarperTorch (2000), originally published 1983
Paperback, 240 pages
ISBN 0061020710
Genres: adult fiction, adventure, fantasy, humor, magic, science fiction

Synopsis: The Color of Magic is the first book in the Discworld series, introducing the reader to Rincewind the wizard (of sorts), Twoflower the tourist, and the Discworld itself, of course, which is home to an eighth magical color, octarine. After a catastrophic fire tears through the Disc's twin cities, Ankh-Morpork, Rincewind and Twoflower are tossed into adventure after adventure involving trolls, heroes, gods, monsters, dragons, and an increasingly cranky piece of Luggage, eventually leading them to the very edge of the world.

My review: This was a fun book- a lighthearted, extremely humorous romp of a satire. Never taking itself seriously, it addresses some of the less savory bits of human nature and our world. Nothing is sacred in The Color of Magic and I think that's a bit of the point; it's certainly a book that aims to keep things in perspective for the reader.

I really like the characters, especially since Rincewind and Twoflower, the main protagonists, complement each other so well. Rincewind is cautious, a little paranoid (he has reason to be), very accident-prone, and just a little cynical. Twoflower is overly-confident, trusting, extremely optimistic, and apparently un-killable. It's amazing how a reader can identify equally with characters so diametrically opposed. I also adore the Luggage, a chest made of sapient pearwood with hundreds of little feet and a measure of sentience (not to mention a temper); it is more companion than inanimate object and has a story line all its own. There are a slew of characters and Mr. Pratchett weaves them in and out of the story so skillfully their entrances and exits don't disrupt the narrative in the least.

The tone of the novel is extremely enjoyable as it is intelligent but not superior. There is a magic about the narration that is reminiscent of children’s and YA novels, though Mr. Pratchett has here and there slipped in adult undertones (that tend to be quite funny). For so many of the incidents in this book being completely ludicrous, they come together to form a mostly coherent and very memorable story, which is about as much as anyone from Discworld can hope for.

I greatly enjoyed this book and I understand that Mr. Pratchett never intended to write a traditionally formulated story. However, the endlessly meandering nature of the narrative did, at times, slow me down and sap a little of my enthusiasm. A bit more direction would have been nice. I’ve heard, though, that a few of the wrinkles present in the first volume are ironed out later on, and Mr. Pratchett’s writing style becomes even better as the series progresses.

I would recommend The Color of Magic to just about anyone because even if they’re not already a fan of fantasy/science fiction, it’s a great introduction.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Discworld and its lovely (and not-so-lovely) inhabitants, so please leave a comment below if you are so inclined. I hope you have an awesome evening!
Mary Beth

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

{Review} The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials # 1) by Philip Pullman
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1996 (originally published 1995)
Hardcover, 399 pages
ISBN 0679879242
Genres: adventure, children's fiction, fantasy, magic, science fiction, YA

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Here lives an orphaned ward named Lyra Belacqua, whose carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College is shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of Mrs. Coulter, an enigmatic scholar and explorer who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing—victims of so-called "Gobblers"—and being used as subjects in terrible experiments that separate humans from their daemons, creatures that reflect each person's inner being. And somehow, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.

My review: I'm aware of this book's immense popularity and status. I'm also aware that this book has been credited with changing many people's worldviews. Honestly, though? I was disappointed and not all that impressed. I suppose the first thing I noticed is how seriously Mr. Pullman apparently takes himself and his book. The writing style comes off as trying way too hard and it ruined some of the narrative; instead of allowing the language to flow, his diction feels artificial and forced. His philosophical arguments also leave much to be desired and didn't have a whole lot of coherence. The bit towards the end when Lord Asriel is trying to explain to Lyra what Dust is believed to be and what purpose it serves comes to mind. The argument is pretty flimsy anyway and then he gets to the verse in the Bible (Genesis 3:19) where God tells Adam "...dust you are, and unto dust you shall return". Supposedly this is partial proof as to why the cosmic Dust in the book is settling on adults and that the Dust is the physical manifestation of original sin. Anyway, it seemed so obviously taken out of context, so conveniently manipulated, that it felt as if Lord Asriel's entire argument fell apart. Don't think that I'm taking issue with the argument (and most of the The Golden Compass's philosophies) because I'm offended or can't acknowledge other worldviews or etc., etc. Honestly, they feel like a grab-bag of different views conveniently slotted together. In a way, this is how the whole book came across to me: contrived. I understand that in essence, that is what books are. But you don't want your reader knowing that! You want the characters and narrative to feel organic, and this book falls short. This brings up a more practical problem: how little character development occurs. At 11 years old Lyra's life is turned upside down and she has one harrowing experience after another. And yet she is essentially the exact same person on page 399 that she was on page 1. I was also extremely disappointed in Lord Asriel's character because at the beginning of the book it seemed as if he was going to play a pretty active and prominent part, but you only see a bit of him at the beginning and a bit at the end. The book also felt rather choppy because of the different characters suddenly appearing and disappearing. It felt as if it could be serially distributed: "This week, Lyra and the Golden Monkey! Next week, Lyra and the Gyptians!" It feels as if the great epic Mr. Pullman was striving for missed the mark and the magic, and I doubt this is one I'd ever recommend. I'm trying to decide whether to finish the series or not. I may, simply because it doesn't seem fair to judge an entire series by only the first volume, especially when I didn't give it a very positive rating/review.

Have you read The Golden Compass? What did you think? Also, I haven't seen the movie so for those of you who have, how does it compare to the book and is it worth watching?

Thank you so much for stopping by and I hope you have an awesome week!
Mary Beth

Saturday, August 11, 2012

{Update} 08-11-2012

I'm back again. It's been a hard summer, starting out with my husband and my losing our baby. I was due in November and the closer I get to the due date the more I don't understand why it happened. But I guess the fact remains that it simply did, and we'll never know why. This was my fourth pregnancy, third loss, and quite honestly, I don't know if I can go through it again. Right now, I'm just enjoying spending time with my husband and 3-year-old son and learning to stop fighting circumstances so much.

We had been wanting to move since last fall when my husband got a new and better job 60 miles away. We were able to this summer and it has eliminated a lot of stress. We were able to find a rental (I really don't want to own another house for a while, ha) out in the country and we're surrounded by horses and steer and wild turkeys. My son is thrilled. It felt like home immediately and we really like it here. The town we're right outside of is Chanute, KS, hometown of the explorers of sorts Osa and Martin Johnson, in case you've ever heard of them. There is a fantastic library in town (which is where I am right now) that has amazing librarians and a wonderful selection of books.

I've been reading a lot over the summer and have discovered some great books and authors. One that particularly sticks out in my memory is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It is fantastic. Part suspense, part literary fiction, part Gothic novel, part philosophy... you get the idea. I couldn't put it down and stayed up way too late finishing it. I've also started reading more Young Adult because, well, there is a magic about many YA books that isn't present in a lot of Adult fiction. And I miss the magic. One series I've been enjoying is Angie Sage's books about Septimus Heap. Okay, they're light and meant for kids but it's my party and I'll read what I want to ;) I also recently read the first The Mysterious Benedict Society book, the first Percy Jackson and the first The Sisters Grimm. They were reasonably good and I'll probably continue reading them out of curiosity (and because I love the illustrations from The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Sisters Grimm series, ha).

I greatly appreciate that you all have stuck around and I look forward to reviewing again. I'll post again soon!

Mary Beth