Monday, January 7, 2013

The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern *** (Sound Recording by Jim Dale)

Amazon Review:
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 both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Some good thoughts and very descriptive and imaginative writing.  This would make a good film/play.
Pet peeve thrown in (are all popular YA novels now including a homosexual set of characters?).  Romance is eluded to but not strongly built.  More of an "instant attraction" ground shaking, etc.  Lust?

Jim Dale does a good job reading and it is entertaining.

Insurgent (Book 2)

Insurgent (Book 2) by Veronica Roth ****

The second novel now that the revolution has come and two of the factions have sided together.  Couple (Tris and Tobias, "Four," learn to trust one another).
Enjoyable read.

Divergent (YA, Book 1)

Divergent (Book 1) by Veronica Roth ****

Amazon Reveiw:
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the YA scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

I found this a little slow to get into--actually turned it back in and read it the second time it was on hold.  The book picks up after the first several chapters of setting.

Shadow and Bone (YA Review)

Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo ****

Amazon Review:
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.

Action, Romance, (Russian) landscape...  Fast and fun read.  One place I did not care for was the duplicity of Mal (male lead) before he realizes his true love is in his childhood best friend, Alina.  Fairly clear.