Reviews by tigerbeck
Action Packed Teen Book Adults Will Like Too
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Wow. I was barely able to put this book down for a second after the first few pages got me completely hooked. Suzanne Collins narrative here has an immediacy to it that, when combined with the very dramatic life-or-death plot, is incredibly compelling. It's entertaining, and incredibly disturbing all at once. If this was merely a good read, I would have given it 4 stars, but they say great art leaves you changed after you experience it... and this book definitely did that. Suzanne Collins has, with one amazing work, propelled herself onto my top shelf.

Parents, caveat emptor! The storyline is brutal. Even though the writing is geared for young adults, the main characters are teenagers, there's very little physical romance, and the actual violence would probably count as PG-13 nowadays... it's probably one of the most terrifying books I've read in a very long time! Right up there with George R.R. Martin, if not more so. Remember what we learned from Jaws: you don't actually need to SEE the shark in order for it to be terrifying. Sometimes not seeing the shark is even worse.

The story is basically about a teenager who is forced to compete in a 24-man-enter-1-man-leaves event. I don't want to spoil it by saying any more, but if you liked The Running Man, you'll definitely like this. And if you're young enough that you don't remember The Running Man, nor did you get the Thunderdome reference, then I'm just way too old. But take an old fogey's advice and read this book.
Better than Hunger Games
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High anticipation drove me to diving into this novel before all my other books that I had to review. Since I read Divergent back in the late months of 2011 I can tell you that I wasn't very up to date on the characters and how the book ended. So when Veronica Roth picks Tris's story up right from the get-go, I was highly confused and lost for most of the beginning. Of course I knew who Four was who doesn't? but when talk of Caleb, Will, and Susan come up now and again, it took a while for Tris to explain to me again who these people, allowing for some clarity.

One thing that Insurgent kept shoveling out nonstop was action, tension, and anticipation. There was never a dull moment while reading and that's how I enjoy my books. During the beginning of the book, because of my lack of information towards what was really going on from the previous novel, I had my moments of start-stop reading and tended to put the book down after each individual chapter. But after I started to learn and remember who was who and what was what, the story picked up for me and I found myself loving the dystopian setting once more.

Tris, the mighty sixteen-year-old girl that she is, started to have some irksome characteristics about her. She's headstrong and brash when it comes to the dangerous and life-threatening, constantly arguing with Four. But there is some growth within her character and we can see how Divergence really breaks her personality into the three factions she has aptitude for: Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite. Though Tris did irk me, I found her a strong, courageous, and reliable girl and that made her a kickass character in my book.

One thing I'm sure many people had said after reading the book was possibly along the lines of this: "HOLY COW WHAT?! WHAT IS LIFE? DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN? THE ENDING! THAT ENDING! OH MY GOD, PRAISE VERONICA ROTH ON HIGH!" And I couldn't agree more because those were literally the very words coming out of my mouth. The ending exploded in my face as has me dying to read book 3.

Final Summation: The beginning failed to really captivate me and left me frazzled until chapters upon chapters into the book. If you don't remember what happened in Divergent or who anyone was, I highly suggest a reread because it would be most helpful in remembering the characters and the lead up into Insurgent. And trust me, Insurgent is worth the read, the whole 525 pages because that ending made my head clock all the way around. Book three please come out sooner!
Action Packed
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Insurgent picked up right where Divergent left off which made it nice to read them one after the other. Divergent was good and set up the world really well, but I liked the conflict in Insurgent much better. The factions are so interesting and we get to learn more about the factions Amity and Candor. I love how the factions are this weird combination of a gang, an entire culture of dress and style, mannerisms and education training for a job. The books only skim the surface of all there is to know of this complex and detailed world. This is one of those worlds where they could write an encyclopedia about it and you'd still want to know more. The writing style was much better in this book. I didn't notice the word "I" glaring at me so much.

Tris doesn't always make good decisions. In fact, she makes some really, really bad decisions but I felt like I understood her so well that I got why she did the things she did even if it's not what I would do. My favorite thing about Insurgent was how well the author messed with your expectations of who is good and who is not. And it's not based just on who Tris likes. I kind of saw the twist at the end coming, but it still gave me chills when I read it. This was a fast read and I couldn't put it down. It left me with some deep thoughts about how easily your virtues can become a vice if you're not careful. I loved the complex idea and story arc. It was an intense, action-packed ride that had me saying "Wow" when I closed the book.
Didn't really Live up to its name
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I was very disappointed with this book.
I was hoping for some specific exercises for neck
and shoulder problems. Instead its just a basic routine,
do them all but if something hurts dont do it.
Thats not what I bought the book for.
It gives lip service to the anatomy of the shoulder.
The little it says seems pasted in from some
other source and its never referred to at all.
No interest is shown in the clavicles (collar bones) and very little
mention even given to the scapulae (shoulder blades).
Way too much time is spent on relaxation, breathing,
and meditation.
Any old yoga book that you have lying around will
do as well or better than this book.
Totally Mesmerizing
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It's a rare book that can live up to advance buzz of the sort "The Night Circus" has been getting. I had read the author plugs, the publisher's notes, the touting of film deals, and I had wondered what could really be so special about this novel to justify the hoopla.

Within a few pages, I found out. This book is MAGICAL. The publisher's blurb doesn't really do the plot justice. Here's a modified one: There are two illusionists, chosen at a young age to be bound to one another in a contest that will span their lives until one wins. They have been given no rules, other than that they must perform in some way. They have no idea how one wins, or what one must do to win. Their sponsors in the contest create the circus as the arena for their players. One will travel with it, the other will not. Their story is interspersed with the perspectives of several other characters within or affiliated with the circus, all of whom enrich the plot and provide a deeper look at the workings of the circus and those it touches.

I love the structure of this book. Too often a book with split narratives lingers too long on one or another of the characters, to the point that the reader forgets the other tale being told. Not with "The Night Circus". Most chapters are less than 5 pages long. Any character whose story you long to continue will return again soon. There are no boring narratives. Each is carefully constructed to yield more detail or nuance to the contest, the circus, or the sinister dealings of the competition sponsors. There are many two-page intervals designed to lead the reader through a tent or aspect of the carnival as if the reader were a patron on a tour.

The prose is beautiful - not too verbose, not too simplistic. Morgenstern has the rare ability to describe her fantastical imaginings in a way that is easily accessible. Reading "The Night Circus", I felt like I could see the contents of the tents, feel the fluffiness of the cloud maze, smell the caramel wafting in the air, gaze into the pool of tears, smell the scents in the table of jars. The author makes her creation real. She does so so well that I think the film will be a disappointment - no production company could make real the fantastical things Morgenstern makes me picture in my head.

The romance is gentle and slow-burning. There are no bodice-ripper sex scenes, no overwrought proclamations of undying passion. The romance between the two illusionists is a motivator of events, not the event itself. By sparing us the gory details, the author creates a fairy-tale atmosphere for her love story, a theme alluded to by several of the characters throughout the novel. This is a story about stories. Each character is equal parts vague and filled in. The reader never feels as if a character is fully revealed, but each has a magical quality nonetheless...like fairy tale characters. Morgenstern skillfully translates fantastical, fairy tale elements into a world where fairy tales are unexpected, and dull reality has taken hold (the book begins in the late 19th century in post-industrialized England where the population has seen magic disappear in a haze of coal burning factories and speeding locomotives - magic is now whatever we can mechanize in the name of progress). The author incorporates the 'seen it all' attitude of the people into her narrative - the people are mesmerized by a combination of magic and mechanics, illusions designed for their world. And yet the novel never devolves in 'steampunk' silliness. There is an air of timelessness that pervades every description, so that the circus can move from era to era untouched by the specifics of that time.

The novel approaches what could conventionally be called its climax about 40 pages from the end. But Morgenstern has created so many characters, so many different narratives to care about, that the resolution of the illusionists' contest has become simply one of many stories. I was grateful for the remaining 40 pages to tie together the other narratives intertwined with the illusionists' story. This was altogether a beautiful novel, and I was sad to see it end. Like the rêveurs, I wanted to travel along with the circus for awhile longer.