Friday, November 20, 2015

The Night Circus // Book Review


Goodreads Description:

In 1886, a mysterious travelling circus becomes an international sensation. Open only at night, constructed entirely in black and white, Le Cirque des Rêves delights all who wander its circular paths and warm themselves at its bonfire.

Although there are acrobats, fortune-tellers and contortionists, the Circus of Dreams is no conventional spectacle. Some tents contain clouds, some ice. The circus seems almost to cast a spell over its aficionados, who call themselves the
rêveurs - the dreamers. At the heart of the story is the tangled relationship between two young magicians, Celia, the enchanter's daughter, and Marco, the sorcerer's apprentice. At the behest of their shadowy masters, they find themselves locked in a deadly contest, forced to test the very limits of the imagination, and of their love...

A fabulous, fin-de-siècle feast for the senses and a life-affirming love story,
The Night Circus is a captivating novel that will make the real world seem fantastical and a fantasy world real.
This book flew under my radar. It was released in 2011, but I did not hear anything about it until this year while watching book reviews on Youtube. I didn't think much of it then, but after I finished listening to Throne of Glass on audiobook, I needed something to pass the time before Winter came out.

So I went on Goodreads and looked through lists of best audiobooks. And The Night Circus showed up consistently.

So I downloaded it from Audible, even though I basically knew nothing about it. I listened to the first few chapters and still had no idea what was going on.

And then it captivated me.

It's the type of book that you have to read all at once, because you are so immersed in it that it's hard to break out and jump back in. It took me literally forever to finish it because school took off, but the days that I did listen, I could not stop for hours.

It's a unique story, but the best part of it is the way it is written. Everything is described with such rich detail. Everything is said exactly the way that it needs to be said. Some people are not a fan of all the description, which I can understand, but for the audiobook, it was wonderful. I felt like a little kid being told a bedtime story.

The audiobook had some drawbacks, though. First, the physical copy is gorgeous. I'm a little sad that I don't own it. Second, the story does not follow a linear timeline, so it was really hard to keep track of everything, and I couldn't really flip back to keep it straight. I had the same problem with all the different character names. So while the audiobook is fabulous, it might also be a good idea to buy the physical copy as well.

I'll admit that it was a complex story and that some of the details slipped by me since it took over a month for me to finish, but I still loved it. Since I didn't quite understand everything, I might reread it again someday. It's definitely worth it.

5/5 stars

So tell me: Have you read The Night Circus? Did you know that it began as a NaNoWriMo project? Do you have any recommendations for books similar to this one?


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Day Fifteen // currently: 23,781 words

(The above photo is from a shoot I did back at the end of August that I have still have not posted. But I will...someday.)

I know, I haven't done a NaNo update in forever, but I have posted a fair amount over the last few weeks and felt that I was spamming everyone about NaNo, so I thought I would give it a rest for a few days.

And then my muse packed her bags and the infamous week two rained down upon me with fire and thunder.

Here are some updates:

  • I know this post says day fifteen, but that's just because it's after midnight. It's really just the end of day fourteen, so I'm technically on track, and this is important to note because I had to work my fingers to death to get caught up today:

  • Yesterday (a Friday, of all days) was the first time this year that I have been behind. My soul was crushed for awhile, but now I'm back on track. Huzzah!

  • And I was having computer problems, so I had to write about 1,000 words today by hand.
  • Who in publishing thought it was okay to release Winter by Marissa Meyer (AKA THE LAST BOOK IN THE LUNAR CHRONICLES) during NaNoWriMo?

  • So this week, I got caught up in finishing the last half of The Night Circus, and then was consumed by Pokemon, because I've decided that I want to get a 3DS and start playing through the later gens. So I've been thoroughly distracted and my novel was thus abandoned for a little bit.

  • I think I'm okay with using the word "novel" now because if I combine this year's word count with Part One's word count, I'm at 74,563 words, which is pretty dang significant.

  • My main character likes to use a lot of vulgar language and she is being a bad influence on me.

  • I introduced an impromptu character last week to add a backstory to Elayer.
    • His name is Braymer, and he is Elayer's older brother.
    • And I promptly became attached to him.
    • And then tonight I wrote his demise and it broke my heart. I don't usually cry over my own characters because it's not like anything comes as a surprise, but I was really close with him. Really close.

  • My writing this year is so terrible. It's just awful. I'm mostly just going on tangents about how the culture and society operates and my plot is going nowhere.

  • And when I say my plot is going nowhere, I mean it. I took this picture last Sunday when I was at 12K to show where I was at in my plot. AND I AM STILL IN THE EXACT SAME POSITION.
  • Tomorrow today is the halfway point you guys. YOU GUYS WE ARE HALFWAY THROUGH.

  • I think I'll do a post of snippets soon, even though I am exactly 0% impressed by everything that I have written thus far.

  • I'm really tempted to throw in a dragon. My characters are in an underground cave right now...they need to fight some kind of monster, right? But I keep reminding myself that this is sci-fi, not fantasy. (Although, really, I can pass dragons off as sci-fi, right? My characters have freaking superpowers. And I am the lord and creator of their universe.)

I hope everyone is doing well and hitting that halfway point! Thanks for all your love and support. Week two is always the worst, but week three should get better. 

If you are doing NaNoWriMo, tell me about your novel! What's it about? What genre? Do you like to throw in impromptu characters and then fall in love with them before having to kill them off (or is that just me?--I did the same thing in NaNo 2013)? Have you read Winter yet?? Any Pokemon fans out there? Tell me all of the things!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Top Ten Book to Movie Adaptations That I'm Dying For

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

This week's prompt is all about book-to-movie adaptations...which is something that I'm pretty fond of. So these are the ones I'm excited for, and the ones that Hollywood needs to jump on.

Looking Forward To:
The Night Circus (in development)
Looking for Alaska (pre-production)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (post-production)
Thirteen Reasons Why (TV Mini Series, premieres 2016)
Mockingjay Part 2 (premieres November 20, 2015)
A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix TV Series, due to debut 2016)
Unwind (pre-production - casting)

Needs to Happen:
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas  (I didn't care for the book, but I think it would make an awesome movie)
Abarat by Clive Barker (As long as the didn't CGI the crap out of everything)
I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak (This would be so intense!)

currently listening to: Shake It Off by Taylor Swift

Beautiful Books #2 // NaNo 2015

Click the button for more information!

Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

 I'm...not sure. It's taking so long to move between major scenes. It's 90% arguing between two characters, 8% flashbacks, and 2% explanation over what is actually happening to them.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

I left off mid-chapter last year and had to pick up right in the middle of things, so this might not make much sense:

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?

I always think I'm a plotter before I start (see this post!), but then I quickly find out how vague my plots are once I start. I set up points A, B, and C, but I don't explain how they get from point A to point B and so forth. Most of NaNo is just them trying to get to one point to the other, with lots of arguments, flashbacks, and unexpected problems around along the way that I think up on the spot. So I guess I'm both a plotter and  a pantser! (And it's turning out pretty well.)

What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?

Lately, I've been rewarding myself with reading! For some reason, my reading slump decided to end when November hit. OF COURSE. So I've been sneaking in a few chapters of Carry On by Rainbow Rowell once I've hit my writing goal for the day.

What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?

For this WIP, all of my names come from cities/towns in Missouri! It has nothing to do with the plot, but I've lived in Missouri my entire life so it's a way for me to celebrate the place that I'm from. It also really speeds up the naming process, which is great for a NaNo project. Even my locations and vegetation are named after cities in Missouri. 

And it works out, because since it's an alternate universe and primitive setting, I don't want to give my characters common names like Jessica, but I don't want it to be something crazy like Lokothivaitan. So something like Rolla or Festus or Center really works well.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

Definitely not middle! This whole portion that I'm writing for this month is the middle, and it is dragging. Ugh! I might like to write endings, but it seems that I never actually get that far. I love writing the very beginning, and then rising action. I think conflict and the beginning of the rising action is my favorite.

 Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

I miss Rolla, my leopard. She hasn't been in any of my scenes yet this year! I was looking forward to writing Elayer, but he's really starting to get on my nerves (I am finding out more about his backstory, though, which makes me like him just a tiny bit more). I think Festus might be my current favorite, because I feel sorry for him. I like Ava, but I'm still trying to figure her out. She's my most dynamic and elusive character. E doesn't have a lot of personality, even though it's from her perspective.

What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)

I've been trying to hammer out this rough draft, which means little attention paid to portraying facts correctly and writing everything perfectly. 

A few things I've looked up: list of cities in Missouri, the definition of "bray"
Some things I'll have to look up eventually:  the effects and development of acid rain, converting the imperial system to metric system (my characters live on a fictional universe and even though I use the imperial system, I think it's weird that they use it. I'll probably convert everything to metric later on, then hopefully develop a unique system for their world...eventually), the proper techniques of throwing a spear

Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?

I write better alone, but I also like having writing buddies. My writing buddies are all online, though, so it works out. I snoop at their word counts every few hours and it helps motivate me to catch up. =)

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

I don't eat anything specific, but I like to have some chocolate nearby. And caffiene! I make a NaNo playlist every year, but I end up just listening to Taylor Swift albums (or just "Out of the Woods" on repeat). They don't really set the right mood for the story, but for some reason they help me get a lot of words down. Maybe it's the upbeat tempo? I try to write throughout the day, but usually I can't get into a good stride until after 10 PM. All of my ideas crawl out of their slumber then. 


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Throne of Glass, Wintergirls, And We Stay // Mini Reviews


Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
You guys convinced me to read this. I would have never picked it up on my own volition, but I saw so many fangirls that I wanted in. I wanted to know what the hype was all about.

Short Synopsis: Girl must compete as the Prince's champion in a contest to become the new royal assassin, but then the contestants start to be mysteriously murdered.

Format: audiobook

Overall Feeling: *yawn*
The first 3/4 of it was terribly slow. It did start to pick up towards the end, but by that point I had already mentally checked out. I hated the names for Dorian and Chaol. I felt that the love triangle was too forced. I wanted to see more magic and less love interests. And, for crying out loud, telling me that Celaena is the greatest assassin ever means nothing if you don't show her assassinating ANYTHING. Seriously. All tell, no show.

I also liked Nehemia, but felt that something about her was missing. And what the heck happened to Nox? He just dropped out of the plot completely.

Note on the audiobook: I hated the narrator's voice. If I read the sequels, it will be in a different format.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

This was my third read by Laurie Halse Anderson (after Speak and Twisted) and although I was pretty "meh" about the other two, I was really hopeful about this one. I had seen some other reviews just praising the book and its rich writing style, so I was excited when I finally found a nice copy at the local used bookstore.

Short Synopsis: Girl's friend dies from an eating disorder as she herself struggles with anorexia.

Format: hardback (from used bookstore)

Overall Feeling: I had a love/hate relationship with the writing of this book. It's so...different from what you normally read. It's so figurative. At times, it was beautiful and powerful and crisp. But then I got really, really sick of it. Sometimes, it was so figurative that I had no idea what was happening or what was real, and I hated that. At that point, I got really bored with it and it took me a long time to pick it up to finish the last 1/4 of it.

I thought I would like it more, but it wasn't a badly written book. There wasn't much of a plot, but I still felt interested and a bit invested in the characters. It's kind of a heartbreaking and painful story, but I felt that it was worthwhile.

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
I was super excited about this one because I love Emily Dickinson and poetry and this type of story. It's also the first 2015 release that I've read this year (so far). It's only about 220 pages, too, so I figured I'd be able to get through it easily.

Short Synopsis: Girl goes to the boarding school that Emily Dickinson attended after her boyfriend kills himself and then writes a lot of poetry.

Format: paperback (from Amazon)

Overall Feeling: Disappointment.
This book had such potential. It had the recipe for a book that I was bound to like. It even won a Printz honor! But in the end, I felt that it didn't come together very well.

I didn't feel anything for anyone. In fact, the main character really got on my nerves. There was really no plot, and the whole book was basically falling-action to a climax that had already happened. I wish I had gotten more of the story with Emily and her boyfriend Paul and less of the French class and smoking and coffee-drinking. I'm not even sure I know what the point of all the coffee was.

It had strong influences from Emily Dickinson, which was fine, except for there were too many forced coincidences. The MC's name is Emily, which I could accept, but then she shared the same birthday as Emily Dickinson. WHY. I don't even know. It killed the illusion for me.

Also, she says "lieberry" instead of "library" throughout the book and even though she had a reason, IT DROVE ME CRAZY.

The poetry was okay. I liked about half of them, but felt that there were maybe too many. And I wish there was less oh-Emily-you're-the-greatest-poet-ever. If the author wrote the poems herself, and then has her characters praise them over and over, isn't that a bit...cocky? I don't know. They were alright, but not the best thing ever, and most of them were way too similar to Dickinson.

I will say it goes quickly and gets a little better towards the end (although I thought the ending was too rushed and forced), so if you're curious, you can probably fly through it without feeling that you wasted too much of your time.


What's the lesson here?
I think I'm a picky reader and I can't trust other reviews and I can't trust my own instincts.

Next up: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, 
I'm still trying to get through The Night Circus (it's awesome but I haven't had time to listen to the audio).

Have you read any of these books? Is there something wrong with my brain? WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?

currently listening to: Hearts Like Ours by The Naked and Famous

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Day Five // currently: 9,378 words

I wanted to get to 10,000 words tonight, but I have to plan a lesson to teach for tomorrow and it's 11:00 PM, so I'm not sure I can make it. But tomorrow is Friday and I will be a fury of words.

Some updates:

  • I downloaded the NaNoWriMo 2015 free trial of Scrivener, which goes to December 7th.
    • I used Scrivener for NaNo 2013 and liked it okay, but wasn't sold on it and never bought it.
    • I didn't use it at all last year, and now I have no idea why. It's so perfect for writing a novel, and extremely useful for this WIP, in particular, because the narration is nonlinear.
    • You can download the trial even if you've used a free trial before. And at the end of NaNo, winners get 50% off regular price and all participants get 20% off. 
    • I will definitely be purchasing it.
  • The chapter I'm on is terribly boring and I'm realizing that about 85% of this story so far is just my MC arguing with literally everyone.
  • Also, only two days have passed in the present storyline, throughout both Part One and Part Two.
  • My cover for this year:

  • I need to invest in Spotify Premium, but only during Novembers
  • My character's supplies have been unexpectedly destroyed. But I guess there's never more tension than giving a character a sense of safety and then snatching it away from them. I think it will help build the anxiousness that this second half really needs.
  • I haven't really liked anything that I've written so far. The plot and themes are great, but the execution is terrible. But that's NaNo for you.

Hope you guys are all having successful Novembers! I'll try to keep you updated on my progress every few days, and please tell me how your novels are going!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

How Do I NaNo? [as told by Tangled]

An idea sparks in your brain, and you decide to bring it to light.

And then the ideas just keep coming.

You might be embarrassed to tell people about it at first...

...and your friends might not get it...

but then November starts, and you're in full swing.

You sign up on the NaNo website and can't wait to be part of the writing community.

You begin writing, and it goes much smoother than you thought it would. 
This doesn't seem so hard, after all.

A few days pass and you think you have that plot all ironed out, but then a glaring plot hole smashes right into you.

So you work and rework and things start to go well. You start feeling okay. You might even be good at this noveling thing.

But then you start getting a little cocky. And you are quickly reminded that your novel has a mind of its own.

You watch in amazement as your word count climbs steadily.

But then something unexpected happens, you lose momentum, and you have to seek consolation from friends.

You think this might be the worst decision of your life.

But then, you have a successful writing day, and then another, and then another.

And you might even begin to ship two of your characters.

You write and write, until finally, you hit that last stretch.

beautiful, beauty, and gif image

And you can hardly believe that you just won.

You finally crawl out of your den


and let your family know that you are still alive

and as you look over all those words you created, you can't help but start planning for next year.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Day Two // currently: 2,879 words

Writing yesterday went pretty well. Today is going downhill quickly. Some thoughts:

  • Just like last year, it's a struggle to bounce between past tense and present tense. I didn't notice it as I was reading back through Part One, but it's a pain to write. You have to change mindsets every few scenes and it's terrible. 
  • Seriously debated shifting my whole timeline a few years ahead so I can add in more romantic scenes between two characters that I'm shipping. There are three years between them, but most of their scenes happen when the MC is like 12. I've decided that shifting the timeline just for my own kicks is probably a poor move, but man I'd like to give them some more scenes.
  • Speaking of timeline. My story has a nonlinear narration, so it's easy to get the timeline jumbled. Therefore, I put it on my wall via post-its, index cards, yarn, and a lot of tape:

  • There is a huge plot hole that I wrote in Part One towards the end of NaNo 2014. I did not notice it until about a month ago. It's pretty much messing everything else up and I don't really know what to do about it.
    • Basically, the water is supposed to be toxic, but I wrote in all of these underwater caves that they are hiding in and exploring, but they shouldn't be able to enter the water.
    • BAHHHH. *deep breath*

  • Pretty much everything that I have written so far has been different or additional to what I have planned. So there's that.
  • But I did find a 2015 desktop calendar that was made by the same person that made the 2013 calendar that I loved, so yay!

  • I've also worked worked on a NaNo 2015 playlist a little bit, but it's far less in-depth than previous years and is basically just a list of songs that I've been listening to all year:

  • And here's a picture of Rex, because it's hard to concentrate when you have such a cute dog:


Hope you guys are getting more accomplished than me! And feel free to add me on the NaNo website.

Let me know if you are doing NaNo! How is it going? Are you ahead? Any tips? What is your novel about? And if you haven't joined--it's never too late to start! (seriously.)