Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I loved this book. When I finished it, I just wanted to sit and think about it a bit more rather than reaching for my next book (which is often my norm).

This book spans quite a few years and jumps back and forth in time sometimes offering a date but often it does not. You only know you are reading the past as it concerns the circus because of the age of certain characters. The main dates given are between the late 1800's and into the early 1900's.

The way the book jumps around in time, enhances the mystery surrounding the circus and the people involved. Some things are magical, some are not, some are merely enhanced by magic. The magic is not base trickery but real transformations as well as illusions that are broadcast into the minds of the viewers rather than a masque of sorts.

The Night Circus opens at dusk and closes at dawn. It's official name is Cirque de Reves, The Circus of Dreams. The circus itself is a character that is alive. We are given the story of the Circus from a variety of perspectives. I really enjoy the parts that are addressed to us, the readers. With this perspective, you understand that the circus could be something long ago or something that will appear in your town next week.

Within the story is a romance, as well as love that a child might have for a parent (albeit an abusive one), the love of friends and the love for the Circus. The way the book ends, it does not lend itself to a sequel but leaves the reader dreaming of the possibilities unwritten. The possibilities of the lives continued and of the possibility of the Night Circus in their town, now.

Friday, October 21, 2011

City of Glass

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

This is book 3 in the Mortal Instruments series. The plot culminates in Valentine's search for the third Mortal Instrument, the Mortal Mirror. Pretty early on, I figured out what the Mirror is. There was one character revelation that surprised me.

I like how Clare uses biblical references and winds them into the story. Since the Nephilim are part angel and are charged by heaven with ridding the earth from Demons, this makes perfect sense. In this book, we encounter two angels and they don't disappoint even though one is near death.

I am liking this series still. After a short break, I'll read Book 1 of the prequel series, The Infernal Devices. Book 2 of that series is set to publish in December of this year with Book 3 following a year later. Book 4 of Mortal Instruments is published but Book 5 is set to publish this next spring. Book 6 of Mortal Instruments is slated to publish Sep 2013. We'll see if I stay interested that long. I should know better than to start reading a series before it's completed.

The City of Ashes

The City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

This is book 2 of the Mortal Instruments series. In book 1 Clary learned the identity of her father as well as the existence of the arcane world around her. Her father was able to steal the first of the Mortal Instruments, The Mortal Cup.

In book 2, Clary's father, Valentine, is after The Mortal Sword. Clary, Jace and their allies learn why Valentine is collecting the Mortal Instruments and they do their best to stop him. At each new twist and turn, Clary and Jace learn more about their unusual abilities and why they have them.

This is still a pretty good series. Clary is getting a little tedious with her teenage whining over her love for her apparent brother Jace and her love for her best friend Simon. Since this is young adult fiction, I guess I can't complain about that too much. There are a few plot twists that are set up really clearly that it's annoying that the characters don't see it - again, young adult fiction.

Monday, October 17, 2011

City of Bones

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This is the first of The Mortal Instruments series. There are four books published but I found a listing where another two books are planned for publication. She has also written a trilogy of prequels to the series in the Infernal Devices series.

This was pretty entertaining reading. It is young adult fiction set in our modern world but within our world live a variety of demonic creatures as well as the human angel hybrids who hunt them called ShadowHunters.

An average 15 year old girl named Clary stumbles onto the fact of this "other world." For unknown reasons she can see past the glamour that is created for the mundanes (plain humans). Soon, she is embroiled in a mystery and the search for her missing mother.

I thought this was a good way to blend the supernatural world and the real world together. It's also a pretty good story line as to why kids are saving the world and solving the problems rather than the adults.

I have the first three book of the set and if all three stay this fun and easy to read, I will probably read the whole series. I think after the first three of this series, I'll probably ready the prequel books and then get back to Mortal Instruments.

Ring of Fire

Ring of Fire by Pierdomenico Baccalario

This is the first book in the Century series. The books are written in Italian and translated into English by Leah D Janeczko.

Once every hundred years, the world must be saved by four kids. In this century, four seemingly unrelated kids happen to end up in the same hotel in Rome together.

They are thrown into a mystery of ancient secrets. This is a game of sorts but someone has changed the rules. Someone who wasn't supposed to die was murdered. The stakes are higher but no one is telling the kids anything - they have to figure it out on their own.

This is supposed to be a 5 book series in young adult fiction. This is a pretty entertaining book. I'm planning on reading at least the next book which is Star of Stone. If I still like it, I'll finish the series.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

This was a fascinating story. Anyone who has ever worked in a lab and looked at cultured cells under a microscope has probably seen the HeLa cells. They are the most cultured and utilized cells in science. They have been sent into space, irradiated, implanted into all sorts of lab animals as well as humans (both knowingly and not). This book is the story of those cells and the person from whom they originated.

Rebecca Skloot spent years researching the information in this book as well as getting to know the family of Henrietta Lacks and, most importantly, gaining their trust.

This book covers the personal histories of Henrietta Lacks and her children. It also talks a great deal about the scientific advancements that could not have been made save for the HeLa cells. The science is presented in a very accessible manner and the story of the people involved is engaging.