Monday, November 28, 2011

The Night Circus: by Erin Morgenstern

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. (Barnes & Noble overview)

I really enjoyed all of the characters along with the storyline, but this was a slow read for me.  I kept thinking it would pick up at some point, but it never did.  It contained a lot of very lengthy detailed descriptions, which at times were difficult to envision.  The tents and the circus with their black and white theme sounded beautiful, but I wished Morgenstern had spent more time on the characters and less time on the setting.

Another issue that I had with the book was the third person perspective.  There are chapters where she refers to the reader as "you" while you are watching or exploring a portion of the circus.  I felt like I was never really a part of the book.  I was always an outsider looking in.  If Morgenstern could have captured me and made me feel like I was part of the circus, I think it would have propelled the story along.  

On a more positive note, the few times when the main characters Celia and Marco were together, it was pure magic.   I absolutely flew through those sections and was left longing for more.  If only they would have spent the majority of the book together, I probably wouldn't have been able to put it down.  Unfortunately, I often had to wait 50 pages or more between each dose of excitement. 

I also really enjoyed the interaction between Bailey, Poppet, and Widget.  Poppet and Widget are twins who were born opening night of the circus.  Their parents are performers, so they grew up within the circus and are now performers themselves.  Bailey becomes enchanted by the circus when he is a boy and is destined to become a part of it.  When the circus comes back to Bailey's hometown, he becomes friends with the twins and we begin to experience more of the circus through their adventures. 

The love story, characters, and elements of magic are very enchanting, but for me The Night Circus lacked the spark needed to really capture the readers.  It is going to be made into a movie and it is being hyped as the next Harry Potter or Twilight.  If they are able to capture the detail and magic of the tents I think it will be a better movie than book, but I have a hard time believing it will draw anywhere near as much attention or revenue as Harry Potter or Twilight.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. (from Goodreads)

Flo's Review: Stephanie Perkins strength lies in writing imperfections. She writes these teenage boys who are...teenage boys. They make mistakes. They are quirky. They can be immature. But these faults make them real -- so real. And the quirkiness makes them loveable. You all know that Etienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss is my second fictional crush, behind only Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games. He is beautiful and flawed.

Lola and the Boy Next Door introduces us to Cricket Graham Bell -- yes, a direct descendant of Alexander Graham Bell. Cricket wears multicolored bracelets and tight dress pants short enough so you can see his socks. He writes different things on his hand everyday. He has flyaway hair. He has messed up. He is a good brother. He is a good guy. And, here's a Flo Fact, he is AMAZING!!! (Why yes, he has found his way on my fictional crushes list. How'd you guess?!)

Lola herself is a great character to experience the story through. She has this crazy way of dressing and talking to the moon and other things that seem wacky, but are perfectly rational and explainable to Lola. 

My second favorite part of this book (behind Cricket -- have I gushed enough about him yet?!) are Anna and St. Clair. I knew that Lola was a companion book to Anna, and so they would be making an appearance. But I still may have squeed out loud the first time I recognized them in the book. And I didn't realize just how big a role they would have in Lola's story. LOVE!!

The only reason Lola got 4 stars from me and Anna got 5 is because I loved Paris. Lola's San Francisco is bright and fun, but it can't hold a candle to falling in love in the City of Love.

Teri's Review
I will make a confession...Stephanie Perkins has done the impossible...she has me falling in love with a contempory boy..not once but twice now, she is really ruining my reputation as a lover of bad boys! Yes, I am talking about Cricket Graham Bell..he is the most dreamy of boys with his overly tall self, his messy dark hair, his skinny pants, his arm full of braclets and  *sighs* that special star he keeps drawn on the back of his hand!

I started reading Lola and the Boy Next Door because I loved Anna and the French Kiss..I mean..I LOVED that book. Lola and the Boy Next Door started out a bit slow for me. Maybe its the time of the year, being in retail Im super busy right now, but I got the surprise of my life when I turned one page and there was St.Clair ( I knew this was a companion book, but I never really thought about him and Anna being in the book). From that moment on I was hooked! The characters in Lola are all fantastic..Lola herself was fun with her wacky way of dress ( I wouldn't dress like that but I admire that she does so) Her parents, I loved the fact that Stephanie Perkins gave her two dads and made them both loving and protective of her. Hey, I even liked Max ( Sexy bad boy with guitar thing, you know ) up until a certain point when he was standing in a door talking to Lola, then I just wanted to hit him in the face! ( little Teri fact: My very favorite song ever and ever is Lola by the Kinks, it was hard not to love Max when he belted out a line to this ) 

As you can probably tell, I loved this book. I didn't mind that it didn't take place in a romantic place such as  Paris, it could have taken place in my boring nondescript Midwestern neighborhood and I would have still loved it. Like Flo, I gave it a 4 star rating..mostly because for took too many pages for Anna and St Clair to show up!

Friday, November 18, 2011

OMG, it's Breaking Dawn Day!!!

Who all is excited about the release of the Twilight Breaking Dawn movie today?! Did anyone go at midnight to see it? (Besides BookNerds Jacque and Teri?) In honor of this fabulous day, we thought we'd just share a couple of our past Twilight-themed posts. (Think of it as a Twilight Flashback!) First, the BookNerds managed to get all the way through a re-read of the first part of Breaking Dawn. It was pretty fun to do, as the 4 of us all have different perspectives on this one! To see our thoughts on the book click here:

Speaking of different perspectives, remember one of our favorite features, BookNerds in Love Triangles? I believe the idea came from the fact that we are divided among Team Edward and Team Jacob. Click the link to read our teams and rationales:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed. Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime. (From Goodreads)

This has been on my TBR list ever since I knew it existed. The summary made it sound like a unique, engaging story, and I was not disappointed. As I simply stated in my Goodreads review, this book is Dystopian Done Right. You all know that I am a sucker for some swoon-worthy guys, and Max definitely fits the bill! (Not at first....but once you learn more about him and his story, he grows on you.) 

Derting created some great characters. Charlie's two best friends Aron and Brooklynn ended up playing roles in the story that will surprised me. Angelina, Charlie's silent little sister, stole my heart. The relationship between Charlie and Angelina reminded me of the relationship between Katniss and Prim in The Hunger Games. And Charlie herself is strong and faithful to what's right. 

I pretty much flew through this book -- Ludania is an interesting world to learn about, and the action kept me engaged and wanting to see exactly how it would all play out in the end. I didn't like the little cliffhanger at the end, but it makes sense to the story and is an interesting set up for the next book in the series. I will admit that I haven't read The Body Finder or Desires of the Dead, but after reading The Pledge, I am adding them to my TBR list.


Thursday, November 10, 2011


Do you love Hunger Games?  Do you love books?  Do you like to try an occasional drink every now and then?  Do you love Haymitch?  If you answer YES to any of these questions then you need to hop over to and listen to Haymitch Happy Hour Hosted by Mary and Flo. Haymitch Happy Hour is a radio program show that discuss different books.  Along with that, and keeping with the theme of Haymitch, there will be a special drink featured each week. Each Friday night at 9 pm Eastern time you can hear Mary and Flo's opinions on a different book each week.  The discussion will include the characters, theme, likes/dislikes of the book of the week and THE DRINK OF THE WEEK!!

Flo and Mary would like to thank Sam Cushion for giving us this opportunity.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Possession by Elana Johnson

Flo's Review: Let's take everything that makes logical sense and completely destroy it, ok?? A place called the Goodgrounds is actually an oppressive society that Vi, our protagonist, hates. The place called the Badlands is actually a place where people get to think for themselves -- is that bad? Well, it's not Freedom, the city where people are controlled and learn how to control others. See what I mean?! I love that Elana Johnson took it to the very, very basic concepts of Good and Bad, and completely demolished them. But something about this book was just a little off for me. Part of the reason, I think, is because when we start the story, Vi already hates her dystopian society and is rebelling. We don't get to journey with her as she goes from the process of going along with it because it's how she's raised and all she's known, starts to discover the kinks in the system and starts to question it, and then eventually starts to fight it. We do learn why, but it is after the fact. We don't uncover the glamour of the Good with her. I really would have liked to do that, and I think that would have given me more of an acclimation to the society as opposed to jumping right into it. On a final note, I love the concept of Chokers. From here on out, I am no longer looking for my soulmate or my Romeo or my Match -- I'm looking for my Choker!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Brass Verdict - By Michael Connelly

Jacque's Review:

The Brass Verdict is the second installment in the The Lincoln Lawyer series.  When we left Mickey Haller at the end of The Lincoln Lawyer he was recovering form a gun shot wound to the abdomen.  We learn at the beginning of this book that Haller took over a year off work to recover from his injuries and a resulting addiction to pain killers.  He spent some time in rehab and has gotten his life back in order.  He is planning a slow return to work when he is called into the office of the Chief Judge.  Judge Holder tells him that his friend and colleague Jerry Vincent was murdered and that he was named in his will as the beneficiary of all of his cases.  So much for his plans for a slow comeback.  He now has over 30 active cases, one of which is a high profile murder case that is being billed as the case of the decade.

The detective that is investigating the murder of Mr. Vincent is none other than Harry Bosch, the lead character in another series written by Michael Connelly.  Bosch and Haller work together to help solve Vincent's murder and eventually come to the realization that there is another link between them in addition to this case.

Haller tells us multiple times that everyone lies.  "The cops lie, lawyers lie, witnesses lie, and the victims lie.  A trial is a contest of lies and everybody knows this."  He believes his high profile client Walter Elliot isn't telling him the whole story.  Once Haller thinks he has it all figured out something else develops that completely changes his opinion of his client and the case.  I never would have guessed how the ending played out. 

I really enjoy Connelly's style of writing and the characters he has developed.  I am constantly amazed by Mickey's brilliant and cunning legal skills and I can't wait to see what is in store for him both personally and professionally in The Reversal, which is the next book in the series.  I think we will also have to include a Harry Bosch book in one of our future Sunday Mystery Corners to further explore his character. (Hint Hint.)

Flo's Review:

Michael Connelly wants to kill me, y'all. Granted, I don't read a lot of legal thrillers (or any kind of thrillers for that matter), but I truly think Connelly is a Master of Suspense. I think the majority of my Goodreads status updates were, "I'm so scared for Mickey!!" Michael Haller (Mickey) is a character I came to love in The Lincoln Lawyer and that love grew in The Brass Verdict. Haller is clever, knowledgeable and compassionate. Lorna, Mickey's case manager, is always one step ahead and compliments Mickey's working style perfectly. Walter Elliott is the defendant in the big case that Mickey acquires, and he is an interesting character as well. The relationship and dynamics of his relationship with Mickey are ever-evolving as two men who both like to be in charge and have to figure out how to work with each other. I love putting the pieces of the mystery together with Mickey, who again, is brilliant. Finally, I guess I should comment on Bosch...I didn't really like him. He came off to me as too demanding the whole time without giving anything up on his end. Mickey does that too, yes, but he always explains why and is not short and snippy about it. Perhaps I will grow to like him more in The Reversal, the next book in The Lincoln Lawyer series? At any rate, The Brass Verdict is a wonderful second book in the Mickey Haller saga, and I look forward to more.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bel Ami - Guy de Maupassant

Jacque's Review:

I have to admit, I selected this as our October book to movie for one reason...Rob Pattinson.  I began reading with the expectation that this was going to be like one of the numerous books I was forced to read in high school, but I was pleasantly surprised.  It was a very easy ready and I enjoyed it thoroughly. 

Georges Duroy moved to Paris upon completion of his military service in order to "improve his position in life".  He is working at a railroad office making not nearly enough money to survive.  He is starving and living in poverty when he runs into an old friend on the street, Mr. Forestier.  Mr. Forestier is the editor of the La Vie Francaise newspaper.  He invites Georges to his home for dinner and gives him money to buy a nice suit for the occasion.  Mr. Forestier also invited the newspaper's owner and several writers, with hopes that they will give Georges a position on their staff.  Georges makes an excellent impression on everyone in attendance...especially the ladies.  This is where the "history of a scoundrel" truly begins.

Mr. Forestier's wife Madeleine assists Georges in writing his first article, which secures him an entry level position.  While his salary increases, his financial position does not.  He uses his additional income to bribe police officers and other insiders for information to use in his articles.  His standing as a writer improves greatly, but he decides that he will need to use other methods to advance socially.  He realizes that he has a way with the ladies and begins using his looks and charm to his advantage.  He seeks out a series of wealthy married women and establishes relationships with them based upon their ability to help him achieve his goals.  Even after amounting his own financial wealth, he is never satisfied with his position.  He is always jealous of those with more and is continuously strategizing his next move. 

I do not want to give away EVERYTHING, but this gives you a pretty good idea of the events that unfold in this book.  I am anxiously awaiting the release of this movie and can't believe that we still do not have an official release date.  I can't think of a better person than Rob to play Bel Ami...which is translated as "Beautiful Friend" in the book. 

Here is a link to the movie trailer.

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

"In The Lost Hero, three demigods named Jason, Piper, and Leo made their first visit to Camp Half-Blood, where they inherited a blood-chilling quest:

Seven half-bloods shall answer the call,
To storm or fire the world must fall.
An oath to keep with a final breath,
And foes bear arms to the Doors of Death

Who are the other four mentioned in the prophesy? The answer may lie in another camp miles away, where a new camper has shown up and appears to be the son of Neptune, god of the sea. . . With an ever-expanding cast of brave-hearted heroes and formidable foes, this second book in The Heroes of Olympus series offers all of the action, pathos, and humor that Rick Riordan fans crave." (from Rick Riordan's website, where you can read Chapter 1 for free.)

I love Percy Jackson. Can I marry him? I know he is only 16 years old and also a fictional son of an Olympian god, but that kind of stuff has never stopped me from having crushes before.

I loved The Lost Hero, the first book in Rick Riordan's new series about demigods -- children with one mortal parent and one Olympian godly parent. I anxiously awaited the second book in The Heros of Olympus series, and it did not disappoint! While one of the great things about The Lost Hero was seeing Camp Half Blood through other eyes besides Percy's, one of the strengths of The Son of Neptune was seeing a whole different camp.

We are introduced to two more demigods who are part of the Prophecy of Seven -- Hazel and Frank. Just like Piper, Leo and Jason in the first book, I learned to love these new two characters for their strengths as well as their vulnerabilities. With them, we have the seven half-bloods of the prophecy: Hazel, Frank, Jason, Leo, Piper, Annabeth, and Percy Jackson.

Riordan does an amazing job of crafting his story. The action left me rushing through the pages and I continue to be in awe of how well all the littlest details end up connecting. I breezed through this book in a few short days and now have to wait in agony for the third book, The Mark of Athena, which will be released in Fall 2012.

If you haven't read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series yet, do so -- because they are incredible. If you have, and you miss Percy and his adventures, then pick up this series because Rick Riordan continues to bring the goodness.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November Read Alongs

Monthly Read: Hereafter by Tara Hudson

Can there truly be love after death?
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.
Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won't want to miss. (B&N Overview)

Mystery Corner: Split Second by David Baldacci

Michelle Maxwell has just blown her future with the Secret Service. With heavy reluctance, she let a presidential candidate out of her sight to comfort a grieving widow. Then, behind closed doors, the politician whose safety was her responsibility vanished into thin air.
Living a new life on a quiet lake in Central Virginia, Sean King knows how the younger agent feels. He’s been there before. In an out-of-the-way hotel eight years earlier, the hard-charging Secret Service man allowed his attention to be diverted for a split second. And the presidential candidate Sean was protecting was gunned down before his eyes.
Now,Michelle and Sean are about to see their destinies converge. She has become obsessed with Sean’s case. And he needs a friend -- especially since a series of macabre killings have brought him under suspicion and prompted the reappearance of a seductive woman he’s tried hard to forget.
As the two discredited agents enter a maze of lies, secrets, and deadly coincidences, they uncover a shocking truth: that the separate acts of violence that shattered their lives were really a long time in the making -- and are a long way from over...
With an adrenaline rush on every page and a plot that springs one jaw-dropping surprise after another, David Baldacci’s new novel will plunge you into a dangerous realm of rage, desire, betrayal and revenge.

Book to Movie: Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison

The publication of this magnificent trilogy of short novels — Legends Of The Fall, Revenge, and The Man Who Gave Up His Name — confirmed Jim Harrison's reputation as one of the finest American writers of his generation. These absorbing novellas explore the theme of revenge and the actions to which people resort when their lives or goals are threatened, adding up to an extraordinary vision of the twentieth-century man.

Crossed by Ally Condie

Note: Spoilers for Matched ahead. Proceed with caution if you have not read Matched.

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake. Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever. (from Goodreads)

Oh Ally Condie, how you play with my heart! I loved learning more about both boys. I loved that the reader got to see more that happened in Matched. I enjoyed the new characters. I loved seeing the bigger picture become clearer to Cassia and its relation to the 3 main characters. And I was absolutely not expecting that ending!!!  


Note: I am also on staff at a fansite for the Matched trilogy, The Matched Department: Check it out!