Tuesday, March 22, 2011

First Official Post!

Welcome ALL!  I'm pretty excited about this, though I know I'm a complete unknown in the internet industry.  Thanks for coming to visit and hopefully I will not bore you. 

A little bit of background...I'm a bookaholic! I read like crazy in all genres and hopefully I can give some decent reviews that will influence you to pick up a book that will be thought provoking or terrifying or just leave you with an impression that you know it will always have a place in the bookshelf of your heart. I will devour everything from YA to horror to mystery and fiction and historical.  Although I like my historical more on the story-telling side than autobiographies and such, but like everything else, I pick it up if it interests me. 

Some of my favorite authors and series include: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Sandman Slim, Quirk Classics, Harry Potter, Cassandra Clare, Mental Floss History series, Eat, Pray, Love...the list really does go on and on. 

I'm going to start my first post with a review of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  To begin,  I read it in almost 2 days!  The beginning grabs you immediately, in the middle of the action and I was intrigued from the start.  As soon as I would go to put it down, I was drawn to pick it back up and I thought about taking it with me everywhere.  I even considered taking it in the car to read at red lights!  Gruen does a wonderful job of bringing you in to her story and making you feel the rich history of the circus from the 1930's.  She really did her research and does a great job of painting the picture before your eyes. 

The story alternates between young Jacob and Jacob as an older man in a nursing home, loosing his sense of memory and himself.  When a circus show pulls in to town not far from the home, all the memories of his life with the traveling show come to the forefront.  The story begins with young Jacob Jankowski, studying to be a veterinarian.  He is turned from that path by an act of unfortunate fate. He then finds his way to the Benzini Brothers Circus train where he meets the charismatic August and his wife Marlena, who are both animal trainers and performers.  The three of them bond as August takes a shine to Jacob and takes him under his wing. August treats him to dinner and champagne, and buys him clean clothes when Jacob has nothing to his name.
With August at his side, Jacob becomes responsible for the animals, overseeing their general care and food, and he settles in to the life of the traveling circus pretty well. 

The circus is both amazing and terrifying as the insiders law of the Big Top presents itself and August is revealed to have a very dark side, though he is as frightening and charming as Marlena is beautiful and talented.  The exotic animals take almost as much of a spotlight in the story as Benzini's owner, Uncle Al, strives to be in the same stratosphere as Ringling Brother's Circus.  Rosie, the elephant, is an interesting tale in herself and has quite a personality with her amusing antics. Jacob helps Rosie adjust to Benzini's.  At first Rosie is thought dumb when she won't respond to commands and just steals lemonade!  Jacob is the one to discover that she has been trained in Polish and realizes the key to getting her to perform.  Out of the Big Tent, Marlena and Jacob continue to be drawn to each other and Marlena's past is revealed.  Tensions build to an intense conclusion as Jacob and Marlena become closer, despite her intentions to at first avoid it.  The chaos eventually takes its toll and the circus feels the pressure.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book.  It was, in a single word, magical.  I could see the lights of the big top and smell the popcorn.  Gruen shows you what it feels like to be feel young while your body ages and really makes you feel for Jacob.  He understands why he is in the nursing home and he doesn't resent being there. He just wants to be with the circus, in whatever capacity he can.  It's the only place that can make him still feel truly alive, instead of wasting away and being treated like a fool.    You can feel how the circus has made Jacob who he is, and his memories come alive with the preciousness of which he holds them close as the adventure of his life dwindled. Water for Elephants is a story of love and hardship and a zest for life.  It is truly touching and memorable. Give it a go if you've been holding back.  I will read a book when it blows up over the summer, but it's a lasting impression that draws me in.  I'm glad I took the plunge, because it was a great read.

5/5 Stars!

 I really hope that review was not boring and that you'll be back for my next review!  I'm going back to the 50's for my next read, Some of Your Blood by Theodore Sturgeon.  A vampire novel that should keep me awake!  I'll let you know how it goes :)