On The Rack: The Night Circus

On The Rack: The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

In honor of it being NANO Month…

This is the first book I’ve ever read that made me feel like I was in a Tim Burton movie. The words visually jumped from the pages. It was mysterious and mystical as well as captivating and unique. This story had me from page one to the end. It jumped around, weaving a love story, wrapped in this strange world of the midnight circus as two magicians (Celia and Marco) compete in a battle of life and death in the beautiful Le Cirque des Reves.

The Night Circus has been optioned for a movie and I can only imagine Tim Burton or Christopher Nolan, bringing it to life. After all, it does have an air to it that would go nicely with The Prestige.

Reason for being On the Rack

In honor of National Novel Writing Month (NANO), The Night Circus is added as one of my ultimate favorites and one that has been a great influence.

Erin Morgenstern wrote the first draft during NANO. It was later revised and reworked over the next couple of years. This is something that I find very encouraging. NANO is awesome program that helps challenge someone to write a novel. However, most writers can’t compose a complete, publish ready, novel is thirty days (unless you are Colleen Hoover). So I view it as a tool to lay down a very intensive, 50,000 word outline that can grow into something remarkable like The Night Circus .

So get out your red scarf and spend the next few days of the polar vortex reading The Night Circus and also visit the NANO website if you are interested in learning more about the program.

On The Rack: The Thornbirds

On The Rack: The Thornbirds

The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough

Flashback Friday from the Vault….

The Thornbirds CoverThe Thornbirds crosses into many genres. However, the book is by far my favorite “epic” novel. The term “epic” means several different things when it comes to romantic fiction. For me, “epic” involves the journey of the main character through many years and often decades; the beautiful and tragic, and the love and heartache that encompasses their lives.

This epic story, set in the beautiful Australian Outback, follows Meggie Cleary from the age of four until her children are grown.  The third person point of view includes Meggie and often switches to those around her and then eventually on to that of her daughter Justine and son Dane.

The novel was quite controversial when it first hit the book stores. A love story that crosses so many different forbidden elements with the age gap of Meggie and Ralph all the way to his religious affiliation.   Yes, that’s right. Ralph de Briccassart is a Catholic priest. Their story is one of many complex levels that twists right into your gut leaving the notion that epic love is epic pain. Hence, the thornbird.

Reason for being on the Rack:

I have owned the paperback of this novel since high school. Publication date is 1977, the same year that I was born. This copy has made approximately seven moves. In all these years, I have read the book at least ten or more times. The back cover is gone and the final page is almost torn in half. This book is either well read or I store my books in terrible places. Maybe a little of both.

Why do I love The Thornbirds?

The Thornbirds InsideI think the poetic quote at the beginning sums it up very nicely. It’s the meaning behind the title. The meaning behind the “epic” story. In some ways, The Thornbirds is my Anna Karenina.

The Thornbirds is available on Amazon in the friendly Kindle format that includes the back page unlike my well used copy.

On the Rack: Ugly Love

On the Rack: Ugly Love

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover might very well be replacing my love of Nicholas Sparks. That’s a very hard statement to make considering my long standing commitment to the guy. I have read almost all of Hoover’s books. I read Slammed in the first couple of months when it was first self-published. I found it by accident in the Kindle store and thought it seemed intriguing. I loved Slammed. Even more, I loved the story of the writer who came out of nowhere and started dominating the book lists. She is an inspiration to what can be accomplished in the self-publishing world. I honestly planned to list Slammed on The Book Rack as the first Colleen Hoover entry since it was my second self-published novel I ever downloaded.

Then I read Ugly Love.

Troubled and damaged people walk through our lives every day. They pass by everyone while hiding the pain they feel. They do this in order to survive until it becomes a way of life. The new normal. The new them.

Ugly Love is a modern day love story at its best. The sad Miles masquerading through life fooling everyone around him. He’s good at it until he meets Tate. Thus the Ugly Love begins with a person who fights to get through the façade.  With broken people, the ugly comes out with spikes and edges and glass ripping at anything that gets too close.  So the question remains for Tate.  How much are you willing to endure to stay close to the person who seems to need you the most?

This one brought me to tears so I can’t give the plane travel stamp of approval. However, this is a must read for all Colleen Hoover fans and dare I say it, for all Nicholas Sparks fans too! Find Ugly Love on Amazon here.

The Book Rack: Mud Vein

The Book Rack: Mud Vein

Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher

Blown away.  Those were the words I had after finishing Mud Vein.  This Book Rack entry is a current read of mine instead of pulling from the vault.  I will preface.  This book is not for everyone but I personally loved every weird piece of it.  In fact, I have not read something on this level of psychological romance since Gone Girl.   I hate to use that comparison because it’s not even close to the same story.

Any summary of the plot would do an injustice to future readers.  Here’s  what I can say.  Girl is kidnapped and left in a strange house.  She finds a man from her past tied up in the same strange house.  The story twists around their means of survival while the girl comes to gripes with her past.

Reason for being on the Rack:

Hands down, the writing.  The style and the flow of words twisted across the pages.   I also appreciate where the author had to go in her mind to write something this haunting.  I wasn’t so much involved in trying to love the book or the characters.  The words spiraled around in a picture that allowed the reader to feel the main character in a weird psychological way.  I say weird because it’s in a way you can relate to but not really sure you want to with the character.

I read the good and bad reviews going into this book.  I think for some people, it’s difficult to associate with darkness.  The main character is a very troubled individual and has been most of her life.  The writing puts the reader smack dab in the middle of her troubled mind.  And it’s not very pleasant at times.  In fact, it can be very confusing on how someone can think in such a manner.  But that’s the darkness.  Sad people are often not logical.

Instead of Gone Girl, I think a couple of Terrence Malick films would serve as a better comparison.  I did not love the first one I watched.  That’s because I didn’t understand.  You have to feel the experience of his films.  You have to feel the experience of Mud Vein.  Every ugly piece of the beautiful book.

If you are interested in reading Mud Vein, here’s the Amazon link.  If you are worried about the cover, it’s not that kind of book.  It’s metaphorical and makes sense once you read the story.

The Book Rack: The Notebook

The Book Rack: The Notebook

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

In honor of the 10th anniversary of my favorite romantic movie of all time, I will highlight the actual book.  I know.  I hear your feigned sigh over the audacity to feature such a cliché love story.  I personally question your cold beating heart.  As a romance book lover, how can you not love The Notebook!

Even with the popularity of the movie, I encourage each and every one of you to read the words behind the story.  It’s a rather short book.  Just roughly 52,000 words. Sounds like a large amount of text but in the world of fiction, it barely makes the cut from novella to novel.

The Notebook is a classic love story at the core.  Boy from the wrong side of town. Girl from an upscale family. They fall in love only to be forced apart. However, Sparks took the book to a different level by incorporating the ending. The emotionally riddled finale made it different.  Made it unique.  Made it personal to the point the story engrained in your mind and heart years after the first read.  The final chapter allows the reader to experience what happens after the boy gets the girl.  For Noah and Allie, the real ending is both beautiful and heartbreaking creating the ultimate book hangover.  A story doesn’t get much more tissue crusted than that image.  I’m tearing up right now as I type.

Reason for being on the Rack:

I love stories that make you feel something which makes it easy to love Nicholas Sparks books. Many people blab on and on about reading his books while others are closet Kindle lovers.  None the less, we all fall into the same magical world he creates on the pages.

Sparks sells the feeling. One of grandeur set in beautiful southern coastal cities. Sometimes a feeling of love and sometimes a feeling of heartbreak. That’s the twisted thrill of a Sparks book. How will the story end? Is someone going to die? Can I read this book on a plane without embarrassing myself in front of total strangers? Will I throw it on the ground and be haunted by the characters for days? Will I love every bitter-sweet piece of the story?

As for The Notebook, the movie and the book are intermingled together for most people. I read book before the movie but I can no longer picture Noah and Allie without the iconic actors in those roles. The rugged smile of Ryan Gosling and the beautiful Rachel McAdams. Not to mention Oklahoma’s own James Marsden and James Garner.  I fell for the whole package both book and movie.

If you have never had the pleasure of getting lost in a Nicholas Sparks story, start with The Notebook. After-all, it was his first published novel and that accomplishment alone earns this slot on The Book Rack.   Get the Kindle copy here and no one ever has to know why you are snotty mess in the airport.