A Book Review: Just Read It

Celia is the young daughter of a world famous magician and Marco is an orphan, plucked from an orphanage by a mysterious stranger. Unbeknownst to these children, their guardians have enlisted them in a duel to the death in a battle of magical might to be showcased in a traveling night circus. Celia and Marko display their talents by constructing ever more elaborate magic in the black and white tents of the circus. Before they discover the grave consequences of the game they’re playing, they find each other and fall in love, using the circus to demonstrate their devotion to one another. Meanwhile the romantic misfits of the world simultaneously fall in love with their creations forming a devout following of writers, artists, and dreamers.

Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is a visually stunning debut novel full of fantasy and romance. The imagery evokes the art and films of Tim Burton with an eclectic cast of quirky characters and every visual element of the circus clad in only black, white, and grey hues. Morgenstern takes us to the mystical atmosphere of 19th century Europe while adding her own creative flair in the intricate details while the story as a whole makes a moving statement regarding the power of art on the beholder. I agree with one of her characters who says, “The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones.”

My only complaint about this story regards the character of Celia. Although I admire her independence and intelligence, I’m getting tired of reading about female characters whose stories center on their rebellions and/or devotions to male characters. Celia’s whole life is spent reacting to the men in her life. She takes control and uses her brain to face all challenges and I respect and admire the author for that portrayal of a strong woman. But I would have loved to see one scene where she was acting in total independence and not in reaction to a man.

 

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A Book Review: Just Read It

A powerful princess of the Jinn (or genie) world falls in love with a human philosopher and spawns a race of humans that will play a key role in an impending war between the human world and the Fairy world. In the 21st century, a revolution erupts against the Jinn who escape their realm in order to conquer and terrorize humanity. Told from our ancestors point of view 1001 years in the future and inspired by Islamic mythology and theology, this is a layered and complex story with a wide range of characters. It is a whimsical tale full or popular culture references and humor but mixed with dazzling moments of philosophical insight. However, I will say this isn’t a book for readers looking for a straightforward and linear plot. Prepare yourself for stories within stories and digressions within digressions.

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Thankful Thursday: Library Love

After seven years of working at a community bank and a lifetime of feeling like a misfit without a tribe (family excluded), I’m excited to report the reasons I am so very thankful for my new job at the local public library.

Curious Kids!

There are happy children everywhere talking about stories and asking questions. They’re actively and excitedly looking to learn and their egos don’t even enter the picture. They just want to know answers to their questions and they’re excited to explore and discover. This morning was the weekly story time, where youth service librarians read aloud and play games with kids and parents before the library opens. So my day began with checking in books and listening to silly stories, nursery rhymes, and laughing toddlers. My day used to begin by calling a list of overdrawn customers to ask when they could make it in to bring their account positive and review their growing pile of fees. Each task is important and necessary, but so far I prefer listening to laughing children rather than yelling adults.

Kick-Ass Co-workers.

I’ll just list some observations to show you what I mean: A fellow worker approached me today to point out a particularly cute picture book cover with a cartoon mouse wearing pants held up by twine. Another coworker invited me to a “Biblio-Ball” in which we attend a ball at the library dressed as our favorite character from classical fiction. The staff lounge is covered in baked goods and invitations to employee events like weddings or concerts. The supply closet houses a pet rock, nicely labeled “pet rock” with a small, yellow post-it. I checked in about twenty books with cute dogs and puppies on the covers, all labeled “Puppers!!!!” in the computer system, by an enthusiastic librarian putting together a doggy display table.

Stretching Circle. 

My boss invited me to join a stretching circle this morning in which the Pages appeared to be doing Tai-Chi moves. I wasn’t sure what the routine entailed, but I curiously stepped into the circle and mimicked my coworker’s exercises, listening as he explained the benefits of the moves and how library work can strain certain joints and muscles. I was surprised and touched at the thoughtfulness of this gesture. We’d all been given pamphlets from HR regarding ergonomics and had to watch a cheesy 80’s video on back pain. I was delightfully surprised at the thorough and kind attention to our physical comfort on the job.

Hordes of Helpers.

Everyone is eager to answer questions without judgement and offer amazingly thorough resources including procedures, guides, cheat sheets, indexes, shortcuts, etc. to help me navigate the new software, policies, and procedures. I’m not sure why I’m surprised by this, considering that librarians by definition organize information and strive to make it as accessible as possible. But they seriously have a guide for everything, so even if I were left alone, I’d easily be able to find answers using the searchable manual, or the indexed procedures, Excel charts of card comparisons and requirements, and so on.  Librarians also educate so I’m also not sure why I’m surprised at how helpful and thorough my coworkers are. But these are all very pleasant surprises, of course.  I hope to return the favor someday or at least “pay it forward.”

Book Blabbing

I actually get paid to blab about books, movies, and music with patrons and coworkers. I’ll also get paid to attend library costume parties, decorate display tables and desks, and write book reviews about my favorite recent reads. I already have a list of ten titles I want to add to my GoodReads “to-read” shelf after listening to customer and co-worker recommendations. I’ll let you know if I find any amazing reads. I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before I start writing reviews on this blog, since I’ll be doing it for work anyway. Fun!!

Thanks for reading. I’m thankful for YOU too!