in which the circus arrives without warning

Hello, world.

The topic for today really could have applied to so many books, but the one I choose for it, I think, aptly deserves the title.

DAY 24: A BOOK I WISH MORE PEOPLE WOULD READ

Goodreads summary:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, 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.

This book is another one of my soul books.

After I read it for the first time, I remember thinking that this was the sort of book I wanted to write. The language and style spoke to my soul in the simplest of ways. It felt like a dream I had had long before, but almost forgotten.

The Night Circus is a lovely dream.

The book has a lot of different elements and subplots, but at the heart it is a book about the circus and its people. It is about how the circus operates and changes those who visit it. It is about love and time and magic–such wonderful magic.

I will say, if you are not a fan of lengthy descriptions and slow plots, this is not the book for you. The action in the Night Circus takes place over ten years, so it definitely takes its time. If, however, you are a fan of such books like Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell or the Time Traveler’s Wife, you will like this book quite a lot, I believe.

For me, the descriptions are my favorite part of the book. I adore the little vignettes that Morgenstern uses throughout the novel, the second person point of view that places me in the circus itself. It’s a lovely experience, and I wish it could last forever.

Just read the Night Circus, okay?

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

in which i’m rather a romantic

Hello, world.

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I am rather fond of Jane Austen’s stories. I think they’re so lovely and clever and important.

Sometimes, though, her six novels just aren’t quite enough.

DAY 23: MY GUILTY PLEASURE

Goodreads Summary:

The only place Darcy could share his innermost feelings was in the private pages of his diary…

Torn between his sense of duty to his family name and his growing passion for Elizabeth Bennet, all he can do is struggle not to fall in love.

Mr. Darcy’s Diary presents the story of the unlikely courtship of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Darcy’s point of view. This graceful imagining and sequel to Pride and Prejudice explains Darcy’s moodiness and the difficulties of his reluctant relationship as he struggles to avoid falling in love with Miss Bennet. Though seemingly stiff and stubborn at times, Darcy’s words prove him also to be quite devoted and endearing – qualities that eventually win over Miss Bennet’s heart. This continuation of a classic romantic novel is charming and elegant, much like Darcy himself.

I really really really like these books.

happy smiling aww jeremy renner aw

Amanda Grange has written each of Austen’s novels from the lovers’ perspectives, which is basically exactly what you would expect them to be–aka glorified fanfiction–and it’s so good.

I may be a pretentious English major, but I can also take a lot of pleasure from cheesy, romantic stories, so long as they have decent grammar and involve characters that I love. These novels check at least one of those boxes (jk they check both).

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

in which the dark is rising

Hello, world.

DAY 22: THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING

Goodreads Summary:

“When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back, Three from the circle, three from the track; Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone; Five will return, and one go alone.” Will Stanton turns 11 and learns from Merriman Lyon, the Lady, and Circle of Old Ones, that he must find six Sign symbols and battle the Black Rider, blizzard and flood.

I don’t know why I’ve never read the Dark is Rising sequence. They are classic fantasy and well deserve all the acclaim it’s received over the years. Also,  it’s exactly my type of book: fantastic and lovely and mythology-ridden. So I really can’t answer why I have not read them before.

I read Over Sea, Under Stone a few months ago, which I adored (like I said before, I’m all about the Arthurian legends). I’m now almost done with the Dark is Rising now and I’m much excited to finish the rest of them.

If you’re like me and have never read these books, I highly encourage you to do so now.

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

 

in which marigolds appear

Hello, world.

Today’s post is another installment in the series of books Natalie loved as a child, which really is just the series of books Natalie still loves because I am a nostalgic being and have largely the same taste in books. Little Natalie made great book choices.

DAY 21: MY FAVORITE BOOK FROM MY CHILDHOOD

Goodreads summary:

Christian is gaga for Princess Marigold. But he’s just a commoner, and no match for royalty. Heck, he lives in a cave with a troll! And now he’s discovered another reason to put his love-soggy heart on ice: Queen Olympia is scheming to take over the kingdom–and she’ll bump off her own daughter to do it. Can Christian foil her diabolical plans?

To be honest, the City of Ember probably would also be my favorite childhood read (but I’ve already talked about it and I’d obviously never talk about the same thing twice.) As I thought about other books I loved, I remembered this little gem.

I specifically remember the first time I read this book. It was a Friday afternoon, and I had brought the book home from my school’s library as a weekend read. My mother was repainting our living room walls, but that didn’t stop me from sitting in the room in one of our big leather chairs to start reading the book. In fact, I finished it that same afternoon. And read it a couple more times before Monday.

it me

Obviously, I adored this book.

A few weeks ago, I reread Once Upon a Marigold for the first time in years, and it was still as delightful as the first time. It’s such a lovely children’s book–clever without being condescending, charming without being cheesy (well, at least not overly cheesy). The main characters, Christian and Marigold, are kind and lonely and so relateable, really. (As I, too, have no friends and make terrible jokes.) All the side characters, like Ed and King Swiftbert, are just hecka funny and make the book a hilarious time. The love story is sweet, the message heartwarming. What is not to love about this book? Nothing, I tell you. It’s got everything, except, according to the cover, the kitchen sink, which I am able to overlook.

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

in which earnestness is a virtue

Hello, world.

Okay, I love to laugh. I wholeheartedly agree with the Irish proverb that claims that “a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” I think it’s good to find laughter in every aspect of life, which, for me, includes books.

DAY 20: A BOOK THAT MAKES ME LAUGH OUT LOUD

Goodreads summary:

Oscar Wilde’s madcap farce about mistaken identities, secret engagements, and lovers entanglements still delights readers more than a century after its 1895 publication and premiere performance. The rapid-fire wit and eccentric characters of The Importance of Being Earnest have made it a mainstay of the high school curriculum for decades.

Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax are both in love with the same mythical suitor. Jack Worthing has wooed Gewndolen as Ernest while Algernon has also posed as Ernest to win the heart of Jack’s ward, Cecily. When all four arrive at Jack’s country home on the same weekend the “rivals” to fight for Ernest s undivided attention and the “Ernests” to claim their beloveds pandemonium breaks loose. Only a senile nursemaid and an old, discarded hand-bag can save the day!

Yes–I know that this isn’t technically a book, but it’s still literature so I think it counts. Also, it’s my blog so I can do what I want.

(I am Ron Swanson, obviously.)

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST IS SO FUNNY.

As I vaguely hinted at in my last post, I’m obsessed with the Victorian Era. I have studied it several times in school and done my own research and read so many Victorian novels and Victorian-inspired novels and I JUST LOVE THE VICTORIAN ERA OKAY? This is important for you to understand.

me when someone tries to insult the victorian era

Published at the tail-end of the Victorian Era, The Importance of Being Earnest is very much a product of its time. Well, it’s mocking the other products of its time. Oscar Wilde is the literal master of satire and is so savage with his criticisms, but in the most humorous of ways. This, really, is why I love it so. I love its place in history and I love understanding what exactly Wilde is hinting at in his writing. If you really want to get the humor out of this play, I would recommend learning a bit about Victorian society and culture.

Even without any foreknowledge, this play is still top-notch comedy. The entire premise is entirely ridiculous and all of the characters are the perfect combination of absurd and insightful. Just sample this conversation between Jack and Algernon:

How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.

Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.

I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.

Honestly, what more do I need to say? This play is Oscar Wilde at his best. Every time I read it my sides hurt from laughing so. If you need a good laugh, definitely check this out. (Also, the play is in the public domain, so hurrah for free things!)

(Also, the movie is fantastic. That’s all.)

colin firth oscar wilde rupert everett the importance of being earnest

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

 

in which stars shine

Hello, world.

(Another late post, I know. Life gets kind of busy sometimes and takes away the time I’d like to spend here.)

So, we live in a world where there are a lot of book-to-movie adaptations. More specifically, we live in a world there are a lot of terrible book-to-movie adaptations. However, in the universe of horrid films, there are a few shining stars that burst through the hazy darkness.

And speaking of stars …

DAY 19: MY FAVORITE BOOK TURNED INTO A MOVIE

Goodreads summary (for the book):

Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman comes a remarkable quest into the dark and miraculous—in pursuit of love and the utterly impossible.

While there are other beautiful and classic book adaptations I could have chosen (To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Rings, for example), I really, really adore this movie. In some ways, I enjoy more than the book itself–which is a rare and almost alarming thing. More than anything, though, I just love the fairy tale, the otherworldly feeling that surrounds it.

Here is a nicely compiled list of reasons why I love the movie:

1. The casting is A+: you’ve got Robert de Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and a baby Charlie Cox. What more do you need?

2. Speaking of which, Charlie Cox (Trist[r]an Thorn) is the original cinnamon roll. He’s awkward and bumbling and charming and lovely–everything Trist(r)an needs to be.

Stardust - Actually, Tristan, it's called a Babylon Candle.

3. The cinematography is so lovely and it’s just a really pretty film to watch. (Matthew Vaughn did such a nice job with it.)

4. I love what the movie did with all the characters. I love the dynamic between Tristan and Yvaine, the dead princes of Stormhold, even little Bernard the sometimes goat. With any movie, there are many aspects that can be lost from the characters, but overall, I feel the movie does them good justice.

5. The humor is 10/10 would laugh again.

6. The faerie world setting is so perfect. I wish that a faerieland lay over the wall in my hometown, but, alas, I think all you’d find here was orange peels and graffiti.

(6.5. It also takes place during Victorian England, also known as my favorite historical and geographical era of all time, so there’s that.)

7. The ending makes me very happy. The end varies quite a bit from the book, but I actually rather prefer the movie version. What can I say? I’m a sucker for sappy love stories.

If you haven’t read or watched Stardust, I highly encourage you do to both. It’s a really the loveliest little fae story you’ll ever find. And though I might like the movie a little bit more, the novel is still a gem. (It’s written by Neil Gaiman, so how could it not be?)

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

 

 

in which i relive my childhood

Hello, world.

I’ve loved reading for a long time. (When I was young, I would collect stacks of books to read as I sat on our couch, usually accompanied by a sleeve of cookies.) But this lifelong love affair really began when I read a book that sparked the flame.

DAY 18: THE FIRST CHAPTER BOOK I REMEMBER READING AS A CHILD

Goodreads summary:

Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness…

But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?

I loved this book as a kid.

I can’t remember when exactly I first read it. I think my third grade class read it together, and I read on my own the next school year. I continued to read it another seven or eight times in the following years. The story entranced my thoughts like nothing else. I couldn’t get enough.

The City of Ember was one of the trailblazers for the current dystopian craze, and consequently it felt really fresh and original to my young mind. I had never imagined that the world could be like the world described in a novel, had never imagined having to live in an underground city. The idea fascinated me. I wanted to know everything about the story and the world and the characters.

I so loved the characters. I wanted to be just like lovely Lina, and quiet, moody Doon seemed to me the most adorable of persons. (I had such a big crush on him tbh.)

More than anything, the book gave me a new world to inhabit and to explore. It taught me to expand my imagination. (I forced my little brother to play “Lina and Doon” with me all the time.) I can’t thank this book enough for all it did for me.

I almost want to reread this book now. Maybe its time to dust it off from my bookshelf.

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

 

in which i am both “happy and sad”

Hello, world.

I love quotes. I love reading them and writing them and memorizing them until they have been impressed onto my own soul.

I love discovering those quotes that seem to have emerged from my very heart.

DAY 17: MY FAVORITE QUOTE

So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This quote has resonated with me from the moment I read it. It captures so easily how I have felt my entire life–happy yet sad, this odd combination of seemingly opposing emotions. I have a sensitive, melancholy soul, I think, and when I feel, I feel entirely. I rarely feel one emotion at a time–I am a torrent of things, but I cannot imagine feeling one without the other. Somehow, in my heart, they fit together, and I’m not sure why.

So, this is my life.

yours, Natalie

in which i delight in anything ridiculous

Hello, world.

sorry this is late sorry sorry

I have many favorite female characters (let’s get real). Yet, when I think of my favorite, only one character has inspired so much admiration and aspiration from me.

DAY 16: MY FAVORITE FEMALE CHARACTER

Goodreads summary:

First published in 1813, “Pride and Prejudice,” Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners – one of the most popular novels of all time – tells the story of Mr and Mrs Bennet’s five unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr Darcy, have moved into their neighbourhood. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” So begins the novel, that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues.

Whatever your opinion about Jane Austen’s books (I, personally, am a huge Janeite), you’ve got to admit that Elizabeth Bennet is a total BAMF. She’s everything I aspire to be–loyal, passionate, and witty as heck. Plus, she manages to win Mr Darcy, so that’s pretty cool.

pride and prejudice mr darcy elizabeth bennet
*swoons*

More than her romance, though, Elizabeth is such a lovely, complex character. She doesn’t quite fit into the life she’s been given–she doesn’t smother her emotions, but uses them as her moral guide, even when they may contradict societal norms. She wants to be seen as a full, intelligent person, which was rather extraordinary for her time.

And she has faults–so ever many faults (reference: the title), especially in a time when women weren’t supposed to be anything less than perfect. But does she let them define her? Heck no. (I pity the thing or person who ever tries to define Eliza Bennet.) She learns from her mistakes, but she also holds her ground when she knows she’s right. It’s important to know when to do which–something she discovers in the book.

And though she takes some knocks and blows throughout the novel, Elizabeth knows her soul and person, and she doesn’t let any thing alter her sense of self. I think that is such an important thing.

Ever since I was I young girl, I have always wanted to be like Elizabeth. I think inside my soul I might be a little like her, although outwardly I act more like Jane. I rather keep my thoughts and judgments hidden. Maybe one day I’ll let my inner Lizzy reign free.

rosamund pike keira knightley pride and prejudice jane austen elizabeth bennet

Now, excuse me while I go watch Pride & Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version obviously) for the umpteenth time.

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!

 

in which i fangirl a little bit

Hello, world.

woot woot halfway through the 30 day challenge!

Today’s post took some contemplation. (I was sorely tempted to pick Dick Gansey for the topic, but I figured you guys have heard enough from me about Maggie Stiefvater’s novels, so I’ll spare you.) In the end, though, I picked a character that I’ve been friends with for a long, long time.

DAY 15: MY FAVORITE MALE CHARACTER

Goodreads summary:

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse—Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena—Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

 

When I first read the Lightning Thief in the seventh grade, I fell in love. Finally, I thought, a book that combines my loves of mythology with middle grade books! I was ecstatic. (Rick Riordan’s a genius at what he does, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about.)

We’re here to talk about Percy Jackson–one of my favorite characters of all time.

I love Percy for so many reasons. He’s just such an awesome person. Sure, he’s impulsive and emotional and gets in a lot of trouble through the series, but he’s so very lovable. He’s loyal (to a fault), but it’s lovely how he takes care of those he loves. I love reading about his relationships with his family and friends because he does just care so deeply, so sincerely for them. If Percy existed in real life, I would so love to have him as my friend. He just seems like a such genuine person to me.

Moreover, Percy actually grows as a person throughout the series. (Character development–what a novel idea!) I think one of the most admirable things about Percy is his ability to accept his faults and to either accept them or change them, if he can. He knows he’s not perfect, but he always does what he believes best. (I wish more people were like that.)

Also, the kid is hilarious. Uncle Rick is known for his humor, so naturally little Percy is going to have some wit to him. Even now, any time I think of the Hoover Dam scene from the Titan’s Curse I crack up laughing. (Which can be kind of awkward in certain situations, like when I’m standing in line for something, for example.)

funny angry laughing mad ron swanson

More than anything, though, I just feel such a kinship to Percy. When I read the first book, I was around twelve–the same age that Percy is in the book. I grew up with Percy, became a teenager with Percy, experienced the struggles of life with Percy. Strange as it sounds, I feel like Percy and I have been through a lot together (him more so that me, probably, but the sentiment is still there). He’s a dear friend, that boy, and he’ll always be a friend that I can turn back to when I need him.

Percy Jackson–what a babe.

yours, Natalie

Tune in tomorrow at noon for the next post!