My Storied January, Part 2


A bee. A key. A sword. Several months ago, those images began filling my Twitter and Instagram feeds. I knew what they heralded and was practically beside myself with each new post and peek. I had been waiting for eight years for a new world from Erin Morgenstern to step sideways into, ever since I was so exquisitely enthralled, ensorcelled, and enraptured by The Night Circus. I have never recommended or passed on a book as often as I have that one. And The Starless Sea was no disappointment. A story molded and folded, fitted and tide-locked with other the stories within it. Stories that mix and mingle and connect and rend. When I first received this beautiful book, it took me several weeks to read even 70 pages. That was agony for me. When all I wanted to do was to dive in and devour it, I was being forced to savor it. I found it creeping into my days, my dreams, my daily drive (thank you, monthly Audible credit!), and even my work. I used it as an example entry for my 8th-grade students’ silent reading journals. 

Photo by The Ridgefield Press

Needless to say, I tumbled into a world of keys and swords and books, of Doors and bees and stories. I will not claim to understand everything…yet. It will no doubt take several readings and listenings to unravel all the paths and side-quests and cues within the gorgeous labyrinth held between these gold-embossed black covers. There are lines that still linger in my mind, lines that I have quoted and enigmatically posted. Lines that wrap themselves around my wrists and elbows like golden ribbons, words dangling from my fingertips like keys and glowing in my chest like embers. Morgenstern has not disappointed in any sense; once again her world-weaving has carried me off over golden waves.

My fictional world is, as it seems, full of books and Doors and stories right now. I am chasing after books come alive in A.J. Hackwith’s The Library of the Unwritten and running headlong through ten-thousand Doors in the most gorgeous epic by Alix E. Harrow (The Ten Thousand Doors of January). To my delight, I am led and shepherded everywhere I look in these tales by characters of color. I am also seeing bits and pieces of myself spread out among them. A hero with eyesight as bad as my own. A Librarian with locs and a fierceness to match the angelic host themselves. A girl with mocha skin and a bronze-furred dog. Her friend with a body the color of coffee who would be perfect standing side by side with the Librarian in battle. Zachariah, Claire, January, Bad, Jane. I marvel at finding myself surrounded by these characters, taken by the hands and led–sometimes thrown–through their adventures, failures, discoveries, and downfalls. It is intense. It is emotional. It is fascinating. It is painful. And every second is worth it.

This is my storied January indeed, and I am loving it!

NaBloPoMo, Day 3: Threads Spun and Woven, Though Some Are Cut


Honestly, I tend not to buy books that I’m not sure I will be interested in at least, love obsessively at most.

One such member of the latter is indeed The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I was just rereading the reviews/reading updates that I wrote on this novel in my book blog the first time I read it and I couldn’t help but smile. I have passed this book recommendation on to no fewer than four or five people and have referenced it COUNTLESS times in writing for my roleplaying games, weaving into a particular character’s storyscape and drawing other characters into it like the winding circular pathways of the Cirque itself.

When I began The Night Circus, I noted:

9/22/2011 –  I bought and started this book while on a weekend vacation in New Orleans a few days ago. It has been quite a long time since I have been instantly captivated and charmed by a book and The Night Circus does that beautifully. The characters are intriguing, the world colorful and lovely and intriguing. It is a world that you want to sit and watch unfold and that is a very encouraging start to a book.

As I read  through and marveled at the story that Morgenstern had woven, I was captured and enraptured entirely. I reread and gushed and thrilled and wept and rejoiced. When I finished it a little over two weeks later, this was my final entry:

10/8/2011 – FINISHED: I finished this book in the quiet of a sleepy Saturday morning and in the company of friends. No better way to do so, I think. I have to say that I was quite pleased with the ending, with the way that the important parts of the stories were laced together and bowed, like the laces at the entrance to Widget’s dream and memory tent [my personal favorite].

This has been the first book in a long while to capture me as it has and I must tip my hat to Miss Morgenstern. She has perhaps only one grammatical quirk that could tend to annoy me, if I decided to let it. But I won’t.

Thank you, Erin, for an amazing debut. May all your future efforts be as fruitful and, if I and other reveurs may dare to hope, perhaps someday we may all return to the Circus together.

= = = =

Sometimes, books just do not turn out the way that you hope they will. When I read Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange, it was at the height of the Austen supernaturals. Books such as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters, and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter were huge then and so I picked up this particular volume to see if it would be any good and appropriate for my 8th-grade classroom. Throughout most of my review/reading updates, I was very pleased with Grange’s writing, her description and the lyricism of her dialogue as well as her command of the Regency and the world abroad at the time. She is a true Austenian and it composes the majority of her writing career, which I find absolutely amazing and stunning! Darcy’s story was interesting and she built up a villain in the background that left me waiting with bated breath to see what would come of this building conflict. Therein lay the rub, though. This was my final entry on this novel:

FINAL UPDATE, 10/17/09: She dropped it, right at the end! Awwwww, it had such potential but the climax came so late that Grange seemed to cop out at the end of it. It had so much meat for a wonderfully dramatic falling action and resolution. Instead, she chose the safe way, gave Darcy a way out and made it, in my opinion, far too easy. The potential that was built up disappeared into the night to lick his wounds for another hundred years (which it was just a scratch really), and I am left unsatisfied and disappointed.

Grange’s writing is lyrical and lovely but…the full meal just wasn’t there. Sorry, darling, but you missed it. By about a mile. In the end, you could have strayed from Austen’s style and done us all a great service.

I generally despise being hard on authors because I understand how difficult it is to create and be successful in this particular art medium. But, at the same time, a writer as well as a reader, I have a critical eye. And the ending of this book has colored my feeling towards it in its entirety, unfortunately. When I left my teaching job, I left the book behind in my classroom and, even before then, never bothered to pick it up again once I had finished it, sadly enough.

Novels and stories are like threads. Some threads are grasped and grasp in return, woven into a tether that never fully lets me go. And some threads are cut loose so that they may soar off like spider silk and, hopefully, find someone whose heart is right for them to tether themselves to.

Enjoying to Love, and Loving to Enjoy


This is so very true for me. I fall in love with characters all the time. Sometimes I have a vague notion of how they would look to me, even if there is a description of them given by the author. But it ultimately matters little to me just how they look. I fall for the way they speaks and think, the way they interact with others. A prime example of this is Mercedes Lackey’s incarnation of Robin Goodfellow in her Elemental Masters  series, and Ceclia and Marco of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. The newest victim of my ‘soulful love’ thus far is William Bellman of Diane Setterfield’s Bellman & Black. When it comes down to it, he is nowhere near as lightheartedly charming as he was before the death of his mother but I still admire the character in a way that I cannot fully explain.

I enjoy falling in love with novel characters. I enjoy loving them and I love enjoying them.

Another character that I came to love was the Phouka in Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks. Sure he was annoying, superior prick at times but he was genuine in his desire and efforts to protect Eddie and, eventually, in his care for her. I admit that I tend to fall for the supernaturally charming characters. Can’t really help it. Sometimes, they prove unworthy of it but, at others, they prove to be wonderful underneath all the bluster and brine. And that’s why falling in love with characters is totally worth it.