The Night Circus

Every now and then you come across a book that reminds you why it is that you adore reading. A few of my friends had recommended The Night Circus so I’d bought it, yet it remained on my ‘To Be Read’ shelf for quite a while. I picked it up just before exams and so read the first few chapters before having to put it down again, leaving the rest as a post-exam reward. Honestly, I had no idea what I was expecting when I started this book – all I knew was that it was a circus that travelled around the world, open only at night. Personally, I think that was possibly the best way to approach this masterpiece of a book.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:

Opens at Nightfall

Closes at Dawn

As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.

Le Cirque des Rêves

The Circus of Dreams.

Now the circus is open.

Now you may enter.

This blurb perfectly prepares you for the fantastical world you’re about to discover, filled with mystery and intrigue. If I had to sum this book up with one word, it would be ‘enchanting’. I’m wary of saying anything more about the actual plot of the novel, as really it’s about discovering for yourself and trying to figure out what on earth is going on as you read.

I think my favourite thing about this book is the world that Erin creates. When I do my own writing, I often struggle to add enough detail about a particular scene and gloss over minor details – clearly, this is not something Erin Morgenstern does. Every setting is filled with enough description to help you visualise such a wondrous place, yet not so much that it deters you from reading more. I think it’s a combination of the imaginative scenes, the wonderful characters and that constant element of mystery which allow this book to be such a masterpiece.

I would recommend this book to anyone, and especially if you’re interested in a little bit of magic or fantasy. I know that I’ve barely said anything about this book other than how great it is, but that’s because I don’t want to ruin it for other readers! With something like The Night Circus, you just need to go pick it up and read it to see for yourself, then shove it in everyone’s face and scream, ‘You must read this book!’.

So, Miss Morgenstern, I bestow upon you five glimmering, fantastical stars – and also a request that this is made into a movie. Please.

Introductions and All I Know Now

Hi everyone and welcome to Always Love to Read….a Lot. If you want to know a bit about me, visit the ‘About El’ page or drop a comment below if there’s a question burning on your mind, such as ‘What is your favourite flavour of Ben &Jerry’s Ice cream?’. (The answer is Caramel Chew Chew, of course). This blog is the product of another, my original site alwayslovetowrite which was a place where, obviously, I wanted to write. With writing comes reading, and as alwayslovetowrite has become a sort of online diary, I decided I needed a different place to geek out about books. Which brings us to now.

So to kick this off, I’d like to start with a book that released last month and is already the Sunday Times #1 best seller: All I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher. Carrie is known for being a YouTube sensation, singer, songwriter, actress, Eponine in Les Mis in London and now an author. I personally first discovered Carrie on YouTube, and then I was hooked by the bubbly personality which always helped to brighten my day. I’m unashamed that at eighteen-going-on-nineteen, having Carrie as a role model helped me to keep strong on days when I wanted to give up. I, like everyone else, wanted to be her best friend, to hear all her stories and soak up all her advice. Now, with All I Know Now, that’s possible.

We all know that growing up is hard to do, and sometimes the only thing that makes it better are the reassuring words of someone who has walked that bumpy road just a few steps ahead of you and somehow ended up as a fully-functioning adult. Carrie Hope Fletcher is that person. Thanks to her phenomenally popular YouTube videos, Carrie has become an ‘honorary big sister’ to hundreds of thousands of young people who turn to her for advice, friendship and, most of all, the knowledge that things will get better.

Carrie has created a safe and positive space for young people to connect and share their hopes and concerns online, and now she will share her most personal thoughts and experiences in her first book, ALL I KNOW NOW. It includes Carrie’s thoughts on some of the topics she’s asked about most regularly: bullying, body image, relationships and perhaps the scariest question of all: what does the future hold for me? With warmth, wit and a sprinkling of hard-won wisdom, Carrie will provide the essential tools for growing up gracefully . . . most of the time.

My only negative about this book is that it wasn’t published sooner. Andrew Kaufman’s comment that this is a ‘best friend in book form’ is spot on. As you read, Carrie’s voice shines through in every word and will have you laughing with her, crying for her and loving every second. I want to tell girls younger than me to go out and grab this book, read every word and carry it with you whenever you need some advice. It’s easy enough to hear someone tell you that they’ve been through what you have, but to read about it in a raw, nothing held back prose. There are so many times through secondary school when I couldn’t help but wonder ‘am I the only one’ and want to go to bed, pull my duvet over my head and hide from the world. To read Carrie’s experiences and find some so like my own – and others completely not – it helped to see my own from a different perspective. It’s of course easy to say now that I would have done differently, but I’d like to think that if I had read Carrie’s book when I needed it, maybe i would have been able to deal with my problems more easily. Hell, there were even chapters on how to apologise that I approached thinking ‘I know this’, but when I finished I realised that there’s a lot I still don’t know.

Sure, if you’re a girl or boy in school then I’d recommend this book with all my heart and if you’re not in school, then I’d recommend this book anyway. It doesn’t matter how old you are – anyone can read this book and end up with a smile on your face. After seeing Carrie’s journey through YouTube, famously achieving her childhood dream of becoming Eponine in the West End, she was already inspiring. The awe only increased when one of my best friends took me to see her last week in Les Miserables and then to briefly meet her at her book signing (both of which were incredible). But often when you have these public figures, you forget that they were once young kids and teenagers who dealt with bullies just like you. This book is more than just a few pages bound together – it’s a place to turn to when you’re feeling down, when you need advice or even when you just want a bit of a giggle.

Thank you Carrie – I hope to read more from you soon.

You’ve got five, big, fat, shining stars.

That’s all from me today. Thanks for reading and, if you so wish, leave a comment, a favourite or even subscribe – there’s more books to come.