the cutest blog on the block

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pretty Things and Lovely Pictures

I. Have. REVIEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you libraries who provide the books I desperately want to read, but am too lazy (or too cheap, take your pick) to buy for myself. But think of it as a way to discern if I really want to the book, or am I just seduced by a pretty cover.

The being seduced by a pretty cover bit is more likely. And do I commit that worse of childhood sins by, in fact, judging a book by it's cover? Yes. Yes, I do. I am not in the least bit ashamed. Ha-ha!

Anyways. Moving on. So, first up on the review docket is a book I've heard some really great things about, from critics and other published authors. The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern, is her debut novel and what a debut it is. The Night Circus takes place through the 19th to the early 20th century, all around the world. It's main setting is Le Cirque des Rêves or the Circus of Dreams, a name that suits it perfectly. It's fantastical circus where the kind of beauty you only dreamed of exists, and as you read the book, you find yourself wishing that it did in the real world, just so you could see it for yourself. The story centers around two young magicians, real magicians, Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair. They have been trained since childhood for a mysterious and fierce competition, Celia under her careless, sometimes cruel magician father, and Marco under an enigmatic man in a gray suit. Despite being competing against each other, Celia and Marco eventually fall in love, with Le Cirque des Rêves being the backdrop. 

As I read the book (devoured it, really), I kept thinking of one of my dearest friends, Jamie. I kept thinking, Jamie would love this book. The kind of beauty and elegance that exists in The Night Circus is exactly the kind she and I could spend hours gazing at, simply marveling. And I'm pretty sure the costumes and the acts described within it would send her into raptures too, if she were to see them exist in real time. Ms. Morgenstern write the story like a fairy tale, like a myth, like Shakespeare (and that is the highest compliment I can give anyone whose works I read). I kept skimming back through the pages, reading beautiful descriptions over and over. So, anyone who wants to get me a Christmas gift? The Night Circus is at the top. 

My next review is a children's book, the debut novel of William Joyce, best known for the Rolie Polie Olie animated series, Dinosaur Bob and Meet the Robinsons: Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King. In this work Joyce, along with Laura Geringer, take on what he calls the Guardians of Childhood, those mythic and elusive figures that only children can believe in, and maybe a few special adults. Starting with, just in time for Christmas, the one and only St. Nick, alias Santa Claus. But before he was St. Nick or Santa Claus, he was Nicolas St. North, dashing bandit and mythic highwayman of Russia. 

Nicholas St. North, the daring devil.
Yes. Santa Claus as a bandit. The Bandit King, no less. He is described as "he once defeated an entire regiment of cavalry with a bent steak knife--while he was eating." Remember what I said last entry about their being fantasy for children and then there was fantasy for children? I'm honestly not sure where this one lies. Because me, the incorrigible child at heart? I enjoyed this book, and I think any child under the age of twelve would too. And any child over the age of twelve might enjoy, but in the same way they might secretly believe in Santa Claus--they'd never admit it out loud. 

It's pretty much exactly the kind of book that only a really special child would enjoy, where the children are the heroes, the adults are kind and wisely (and in the case of Nicholas St. North, a swashbuckling buccaneer of fun and good times), the magic straightforward and simple (light--good, darkness--bad), and the villains are creepily evil. The story is again, simple enough. Pitch, the Nightmare King, has returned to do battle on earth and send every living thing nightmares. The only one who can stop him is the Man in the Moon, Tsar Lunar and the great wizard Ombric Shalazar, the last survivor of the great city of Atlantis. Ombric lives in Old Russia, in the enchanted village of Santoff Claussen (sound familiar at all?), where he teaches all who live within it's magical borders magic, curiosity and the languages of creatures (insect is included). When Pitch, the Nightmare King, returns to the land, help comes from an unlikely source: the titular Nicholas St. North. At first, Nicholas could care less about the oncoming onslaught of nightmares about the unleashed on the world. He just wants treasure, adventure and excitement. But the children of Santoff Claussen convince him to help them and the adventure begins. 

This is the book for a child who already knows and the adult who remembers what it was like, to believe in something so fiercely, it could come true with the power of that belief. 

I have a couple more reviews, but I'll save them for next time. To whet your appetites, as it were. So y'all come on back now, y'hear? I am chock full of devious, people. 

Over & Out,

P.S. The next book in The Guardians series is E. Aster Bunnymund and the Battle of the Warrior Eggs. 
...I'm honestly not sure if that's really awesome or just extremely silly. 

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