Tag: books

The Night Circus

I haven’t blogged for a week because I’ve been sick. Sick, sick, sick. Fevers of 103 (and upwards!), aches and pains and chills, oh my! It all boiled down to a wicked tangle with strep throat. Yuck. I spent two entire days vertical (praise the Lord for my amazing husband who kid-wrangled and let me moan and writhe in relative peace), and felt very contrite for all the times I’ve heard that others were sick and thought: “Buck up, princess. Take some DayQuil and get on with it.” Uh, it doesn’t always work that way. I know that now. And if I ever implied that you were a baby when you were sick, I apologize from the bottom of my heart… Although the bottom of my heart is also quite sure you couldn’t possibly have had it as bad as I did. 😉

Any-hoo, somehow in the midst of all that agony, I found time to start reading a book. And oh, what a (wonderful) mistake that was! Have you ever tried to read a book when you’re half-delirious? It makes for some interesting interpretations, let me assure you. But even though I wasn’t entirely myself, I can tell you with confidence that The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is one of the best books I have read in a very, very long time.

I won’t bore you with a summary (you can skip to her website to read that), or give you a full-blown review (there are already well over 300 of those on Amazon), but I do feel the need to take just a moment to tell you why The Night Circus captured my heart these past few days.

The power of the book is not in the characters — at least, not for me. I enjoyed the characters well enough, and hoped for their happiness and well-being, but I can’t say that I was deeply invested in any of them. At the climax of the story, I may have held my breath for a moment or two, but there were no tears. And I cry a lot when I read. But in order to weep over a book I have to feel deeply connected to the characters. Such was not the case with The Night Circus.

Nor was the plot an edge-of-your-seat nail-biter. It was exciting enough, and I loved the handful of unexpected turns that Erin tossed in for good measure. But I didn’t love it for the plot.

Or the prose. It was nice. Nothing particularly note-worthy there.

But oh, oh the setting of this book…

I know. The setting? Who falls in love with a book over the setting? Me, apparently. This was hands down the most atmospheric, ethereal, haunting book I have ever read… And all because of the La Cirque de Reves. I fell asleep at night to the scent of caramel corn (which is probably why I’ve had it for two meals straight now — darn power of suggestion) and the anxious hum of the crowd. There is a cornfield at the end of my street, and this morning when I left to run some errands, I couldn’t help but scan the expanse of fresh-harvested earth for the telltale sign of black and white striped tents. Alas, they weren’t there. But oh, how I wish they could be…

Atmosphere is a big deal to me. I love it in my books, and I love it in my life. Candles and conversation pieces factor into my decor, our backyard is an oasis of colors and texture and sound, and even going out to eat is more pleasant in my mind if the atmosphere hits the right note. And that doesn’t always mean fancy… One of my favorite restaurants is a bar filled with big screen TVs and my favorite beer on tap. Our waitress knows us by name. But that’s beside the point. After reading The Night Circus, I’ve got setting on the brain. Is there a book in your library that has a remarkable sense of place? I’d love to hear what it is…


A few good books…

Who needs a good man when you’ve got a few good books? Wait a minute. I do. I need my good man to bring me a glass of wine and that almond toffee dark chocolate I love when I’m too busy reading to fend for myself. And maybe a little foot rub? Is that asking too much? Poor Aaron. He doesn’t even know I’m teasing him. (He never reads my blog! :))

Anyway, I’ve read some pretty amazing books lately and I thought I’d share. I’ll give you all my advice and recommendations for free, but I’d love it if you’d return the favor by leaving a comment with the title of the best book you’ve read recently. I’m in the market for a few new page turners.


I should have read this book ages ago, but the truth is I was scared. I heard it was a powerful, heartbreaking book and I just didn’t feel up to it. But I sucked it up last week and read The Book Thief in a handful of furious, snatched moments. I think I actually skimmed it and should probably read it again. Either way, it was worth all the hype and more. This is a gorgeous, painful book that does not end with rainbows and sunshine. If you like your stories neat, stay far away. But if you’re willing to cry over a book, and rejoice in glimmers of hope, this WWII story is for you. Have tissues handy.

I’m not much of a fantasy/sci-fi person, but I will happily admit that Patrick Rothfuss is brilliant and his books blow my mind. The world that he has created in The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear (the second book in his Kingkiller Chronicles) is so fully realized the books almost read like a historical series to me. It’s all in the details, my friends. Love, love these books. Pure entertainment.

Parenting is crazy-hard and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying through their teeth. I’ll take advice anywhere I can get it, but I’ve never been a big fan of parenting books. Until now. Making Children Mind without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman is all about reality-based discipline instead of knee-jerk punishment. And boy, does it make sense. Our sons are really responding to his techniques, and I feel much calmer and more in control of my home. This mama is loving it.

Cutting for Stone is a novel that I read like poetry. If I inhaled The Wise Man’s Fear, I savored Cutting for Stone, relishing each well-turned phrase and immersing myself in the vivid East African setting that Abraham Verghese paints with such poignancy. This is a remarkable book on so many levels, but one of the things that I enjoyed the most is Verghese’s portrayal of Ethiopia. I feel like I understand a small sliver of all that is my son’s country of birth, and I am awed by what I know. But whether or not you have a heart for Ethiopia, this is definitely a must-read book.

Your turn: Read any good books lately? Do share…


Free Download!

Good morning, all!

I’m popping in this morning to let you know that my debut novel After the Leaves Fall is available as a FREE Kindle download! This is a limited time offer and a great way to sample my writing no strings attached. Please pass the link along on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else you can (and would be willing to) spread the news! I’d love to reach the #1 spot for free Kindle downloads. I guess that would make my book a number one bestgiveawayer. Hey, it’s not much, but I aspire to it all the same. 😉

Have an awesome Monday! I’ll be back on Wednesday to continue the conversation about simplicity… I’m excited to talk about the second part of my personal epiphany: we’re too hard on each other. I’ll explain what I consider to be the difference between assumptions and expectations and share a time that I blew it, big time. Who doesn’t want to hear a personal confession? In the meantime, get yourself a free download… And then when you love the book to bits you can go buy the next two in the series! He-he-he!


Far From Here

Less than a week ago I turned in my sixth book to my agent. Wow. Six. Sometimes I can’t believe that I’ve strung that many words together. Sensical words. Well, allegedly–I guess it depends on who you ask. I’m no math whiz, but if I calculate 100,000 words per book (roughly) and a grand total of six books, I know enough to gasp in astonishment at the sheer volume of my own blabbing. Blah, blah, blah… Though, of course, I hope my books don’t sound like that to you! I suppose it’s just the stage I’m in: shock and awe and sheer exhaustion. I go through this with every book.

Anyway, just for the fun of it I’d love to share a few Far From Here stats. Enjoy!

Total words: Just under 89,000 (a bit of a short book for me)

Time to write: 15 years if you consider that the seed was planted when I was a kid, 1 year if you count from the first written word to the last scrawled period

Inspiration: My dad’s high school best friend–a brilliant, talented young man who became a bush pilot in Alaska and mysteriously disappeared (seriously, you can’t make this stuff up)

What the book is about: A pilot’s wife (Dani) who hates flying and has to deal a life undone when her husband (Etsell) goes missing

What it’s really about: Marriage (it’s no romance, but it’s definitely a love story)

My favorite character: Kat, Dani’s sassy, wild-child sister

My favorite scene: The final scene of the book–it’s hopeful and bright and poetic (I hope)

Best part of writing this book: Going to Alaska for research! (Yup, I took the photo above. It’s of Kenai Lake on the road to Seward.)

First line: The first time he took me up, I thought I was going to die.

Your turn: Got a question? Ask away! No spoilers, but I’ll do my best to answer it.