Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday Snapshot ... Farewell Summer!

The last weekend of summer and I have been lucky enough to have one last dip in the pond near my home ... so farewell, summer!

The Winter People - Jennifer McMahon

I was initially drawn to this audiobook because the turn of the seasons makes me crave mystery and ghost stories. I love listening to audio books, as I work around the kitchen so McMahon's creepy story about wishing a loved one back from the dead seemed a perfect distraction from canning tomatoes and making mincemeat for winter pies.

The story opens with a young couple living at the turn of the century in a small Vermont farming community. It's wintertime and bitterly cold. Food's a bit scarce, the farmhouse is drafty, but Martin, Sara, and their daughter, Gertie are making ends meet. Martin hunts in the woods behind the farmhouse, determined to care for his little family. The growing season is short and the fields are rocky, but martin ekes out a living for them. We read of one fall day when he returns to the house, having found a ruined homestead deep in the woods. He's found a bone ring that he gives to Sara. Her reaction is strong and definite ... get the ring out of the house and go bury it, return it to the earth. But Martin doesn't. He holds onto it ... his first mistake.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

How ironic that a young woman whose name translates "Morningstar' has written such a magical tale about the night.  Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus is an enthralling tale of love, twisted ambition, mystery and obsession, but mostly it's a tale of controlling one's dreams, visions and future. All these themes are wrapped up in a story about a magical circus that appears mysteriously at the turn of the 20th century and travels the world, attracting a cast of really memorable characters.

Celia and Marco are two very talented and sensitive young people taken into tutelage under older and far more experienced teachers ... magicians, illusionists, one might say, madmen. They are bonded at a young age to be in competition with each other. BUT WHY? AND HOW?

The Night Circus becomes the playing field for these two to begin molding a surreal and completely entrancing experience for the public, a circus like no other. This circus magically appears in places all over the world. It opens its gate at night and closes at dawn. Its troupe of artists include the most talented of acrobats, illusionists, fortunetellers, lion tamers and animal trainers. The characters become intertwined in their circus lives, as Celia and Marco produce tent after tent of increasingly intricate magical experience for circus-goers. What begins as a way for them to hone their considerable talents becomes a glorious collaboration of love. BUT ... and that's a big but ... their mentors have had other plans for their future and that future has no place for them to be together. One must extinguish the other in some fashion.

The fate of The Night Circus rests in how Marco and Celia respond to this more urgent challenge. They have come to cherish their mates in the circus troupe, respect and care for the public and the legions of reveurs (dreamers) who follow the circus from place to place. How can they put this warped challenge to rest and save the circus?

I loved this read. It's a debut book by Ms. Morgenstern and is soon to be a motion picture with a proposed fall 2015 release. I think I will be glad that I read the book before seeing the movie. There is so much depth and 'premise' to the words of her story that I frankly have problems envisioning how it will be made visual and how dialogue will be able to convey the intricacy of the story. I fear it will lose much of the magic of the novel.  The settings are so incredibly rich in imagination that each reader is bound to have strong images in mind. The characters, too, are well described and in the case of the main characters well-developed so seeing a movie casting director's vision may be disturbing when one has one's own concept of the character. And just how can that magical circus clock of Herr Thiessen's be conveyed through film ? I just don't know ... but I suppose time will tell.

This is the first book reaction linked with this year's RIP X literary event. See details at The Estella Society blog to read other reactions/reviews and/or to join with other lovers of Gothic, mystery, horror,  and fantasy genres.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

R.I.P. X - Fall's Annual Spooky Read Challenge Is Here!

Oh, goodie! It's here again! The autumnal tradition of reading all things spooky, eerie, Gothic, horrific! This year I'm starting by listening to the audio version of The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon. It's pretty creepy because it takes place in Vermont, which is practically right next door ! It's also a classic ghost story ... perfect for the first fall storms and blustery leaves!

I love the R.I.P. challenge. Originally begun by Carl Anderson of Stainless Steel Droppings, it has been taken on by Andi and Heather over at The Estella Society. For complete details on participating in the different levels of this year's R.I.P. challenge, check out their post ... and then get ready to choose your poison, stack up your creepy reads and get busy!

I'll be finishing my audio book and moving on to a good murder mystery ... stay tuned !

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Girl On the Train - Paula Hawkins

Clever premise behind this book ... haven't you looked in windows or witnessed goings on in yards as you passed in a car or bus or train? If you commute everyday you must have certain views that draw your eyes, time after time. It's all very innocent, isn't it?

Reading this book made me feel squeamish sometimes. It was extremely painful to be inside the main character's head. Rachel is just such a poster child for the path to alcohol addiction. It was sad reading about her failed marriage, her constant falling toward the drinking as a way to cope, deaden pain, escape her miserable life. The strangely intricate fantasies about the couple she watched every day, as she rumbled past on the local London commuter line was downright creepy. When something dreadful happened to the woman she obsessed on, the plot began to take off.

I'm probably the only person that hadn't read this book, as it's been so wildly popular all summer, but I'm still not going to discuss the plot details, as they all work to construct a good psychological thriller. Let's just say that the whole 'hell hath no fury like a woman scorned thing' played out right down to the end in grand fashion.

Comparisons to Gone Girl would not be amiss, as both authors have played with what we think we know and what we think we see and how we can be horribly wrong, wrong, wrong. It's up to the reader to pay close attention to every detail and find the little clues that help with that big 'aha moment' when we see clearly just what's been building. This was a good, fast read. I couldn't put it down and will probably have to go to bed early this evening, as I read through much of the night.

Now, I hear there will be a movie? Does anyone know anything about that ?