The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus revolves around the stories of the people involved in a magical circus that is only open during the evening. It centers on two characters, Celia and Marco, who are rivals and destined to win a lifelong magical competition that is set at the circus yet has no rules. Other characters help bring that circus to life and, by the end of many years, feel entrapped by the world they’ve helped create. With the assistance of a young spectator, Bailey, Celia and Marco are able to free themselves of the circus, complete the challenge, and stay together.
This novel was a joy to read. The world is so fully developed that the entire time I felt I was floating along in this whimsical land that just came alive. The descriptions are lush and full. There are many intertwining characters and plotlines and the intersections of each is pleasingly unpredictable and satisfying. Although a very strong novel the ending was a bit out of place. The magic used to secure a happy ending wasn’t one that had been fully present throughout the rest of the book and decisions relied too heavily on a secondary character, Bailey, that was abruptly pulled to the forefront. It felt a bit convenient. Nevertheless, the strength of the world and the impressive handling of multiple characters and plotlines makes this a really strong novel, and the fact that it’s a debut novel makes it even more impressive. One of the things I enjoyed most about this novel was that the depth to it—compared to YA novels it’s a larger scope, covering more time, including more characters, and entwining more complicated stories. It was refreshing. A highly recommended read.
Pretty Crooked (ARC 3/13) by Elisa Ludwig
This is a great caper story that flips the Robin Hood myth upside down: when Willa Fox moves to a wealthy town and realizes that the popular girls are bullying the scholarship students she decides to steal from them and give to the poor girls. It’s a really fun story and Willa is likeable, despite her questionable decisions. There is also an underlying mystery about Willa’s past and her mother’s activities that I look forward to finding out more in the second book.
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
This classic title was enjoyable to read, although I enjoyed the companion title The Blue Sword better. Aerin is a relatable character and her grown throughout the manuscript is nice to see. I found her relationship with Luthe, though, rushed and poorly developed, yet Aerin’s decision to put her kingdom before her relationship was still powerful. This is a great piece of early feminist fantasy and clearly beloved as it was a Newbery winner and continues to be read by fantasy fans.
Plus two absolutely delightful picture books:
Extra Yarn written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen
Plant a Kiss written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds