Friday Five: Books That Keep Me Up All Night

2 Mar

There’s been a lot of sleepless nights lately at casa de BiRL. For once it’s not just because of insomnia, I’ve been reading some really excellent books lately. Unfortunately they all seem to get good right before bed. So here they are, the top five titles that have kept me up lately, from most to least recent:

The Paris Wife

Since I just reviewed this awesome book, I’ll spare you, except to say read it! But not before bed. I saw the sun rise thanks to this little gem.


Again, recently reviewed. This one comes with a serious Do Not Start Before Bed warning. Or, if you do, stop once Loius gets to Hawaii. After that there’s no turning back until the war’s over.

The Night Circus

Oh! I so called it! I picked up this book shortly after it came out (that was pre-Bigger in Real Life, and I’ve been meaning to write the review for a while) and as soon as I was done I said to A, “I bet they’re going to make this into a movie. It would make a really good one.” And I was right! (I’d put money on Unbroken being made into a movie too, by the way.) I totally see this visually taking on a Baz Luhrmann à la Moulin Rouge feel. Here’s hoping! Check out Cinema Blend for the full story. Anyhow, self-congratulations aside, this book is lovely. Luminous yet dark with pulsating, palpable descriptions, The Night Circus is a haunting novel that feeds into my love of gothic-esque fiction. It’s a longer read, so didn’t read all of it in one night, but I definitely stayed up way past the point of comfort because I couldn’t ever fathom what would come next.

Another Piece of My Heart

Jane Green’s been a favorite of mine for years. Yes, she writes what would be classified as “chick lit,” but I like to think that it’s the thinking girl’s chick lit. I snagged this book as a pre-publication promo, and it’s another book I’ve been meaning to review. Jane Green still needs to get an American to proof-read her books for accuracy sake, but I think this is her most raw, moving book to date. She takes an already hard situation–making a blended family work when the mom is an alcoholic, the dad is raising his two girls, the oldest of which becomes unmanageable when he marries another woman, around whom most of the story is based–and ups the ante by throwing in infertility issues and a prodigal daughter. All this has the potential to stray across the line of believability in the hands of a less talented writer, but Jane Green always writes incredibly believable characters that have you feeling every hurt and triumph right along with them. Though a longer novel for a girly-book, it’s still a fast, yet satisfying read. I read this in one night mostly because I thought I could. And I did.

Garden Spells

I own every book Sarah Addison Allen has written, thanks to how utterly and completely I fell in love with Garden Spells. Her other books are wonderful, but nothing compares to this first one. I picked it up before a long weekend in a mountain cabin, not knowing what to expect. After reading for a half-hour next to an increasingly sleep-deprived A, I got up and padded into the living room because I knew I was in it for the long haul. I fell head-over heels into the world of Claire and Sydney Waverly, their lives, their loves, their tenuous trip towards accepting each other as sisters and making a life together. One part Practical Magic, one part Like Water for Chocolate, this book made me hungry for new experiences and for home-grown, handcrafted food. I’ve read it at least four times since its publication, and it never disappoints. It’s one of my best books on my shelf.

11 Responses to “Friday Five: Books That Keep Me Up All Night”

  1. Farah Ng @ Broken Penguins March 2, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    I love, love, love Like Water for Chocolate! Will have to check out Garden Spells.

  2. Adelle Gabrielson March 2, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    I need to give you your copy of APoMH back…

    Garden Spells – loved Garden Spells! One of the best books ever…

    • Christy A. March 2, 2012 at 8:55 am #

      No worries! My only question is, did you like it?

  3. Cara Olsen March 2, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    Ooo . . . Love, love, love the banner today! You are so treated to have such lovely artwork represent your blog!

    I read mixed reviews about “The Night Circus”. There seemed to be a general consensus that, while the imagery and writing were strong, the concept novel, nothing particularly . . . happened. It basically just followed behind the bizarre happenings. I suppose the macabre, chimerical ongoings of a circus that operates a night should be enough, right? 🙂 Maybe I’ll give this one a try, but be safe by checking it out at the library.

    Sarah Addison Allen is one of my most favorite writers! I fell in love with her after reading “The Sugar Queen”, and couldn’t wait to pick up her others. I have “Garden Spells” sitting on my shelf, just waiting to be enjoyed 🙂

    Happy Friday, Christy!

    • Christy A. March 2, 2012 at 10:00 am #

      I’d agree and disagree with the mixed reviews. While I agree that the writing and imagry are hands-down the strongest part of the book – to the point of overshadowing plot – I’d disagree that nothing happens. It’s not a very fast moving book, to be sure; I think that people who say nothing happens have gotten caught up in wanting more to happen between the two lovers the book tries to focus around, as I did when I first read it. But when I went back, I realized that the main character of the book is the circus itself, it’s creation and existance – all the other characters are there to show different facets of the circus in how it inextricably changed all who allowed themselves to be caught up in its terrible beauty. Some didn’t survive the circus, some found the meaning of life in it. I think if you read it thinking of the circus as the main character it will ultiamtely be satisfying.

      PICK UP GARDEN SPELLS! It’s all there, waiting for you, every deliscious word….I love that you read Sarah Addison Allen. One more reason why we’re friends.

      • Cara Olsen March 3, 2012 at 10:15 am #

        Sorry I was unable to respond to this yesterday. It was a tad crazy around these parts. And by parts, I mean my brain 🙂

        Thank you for giving me much to consider about The Night Circus. It’s difficult when reading reviews not to hear the negative criticism with a certain propinquity. We readers — most of us, anyway — have a list a mile long of books we would like to get to. Spending any amount of time on a book we don’t enjoy is crime against time, so to speak, lol, and I think — at least myself — many would rather miss out on one that might have been good and go with a sure thing,rather than have wasted it on a stinker. But you and I are alike in many ways, and I suspect that even if I don’t love the book, I will find something in which I enjoy or admire. Your fervent ardor is enough to get me to pick it up!

        LOL — I can’t! The book is a reward for me once I get through some others. I like to know that I have a — here it is again! — a sure thing waiting for me. Eventually I will get to it and then we gush over the book together 🙂

        Happy Saturday, Christy!

      • Christy A. March 3, 2012 at 11:11 am #

        I totally know what you mean, it feels like such a risk sometimes, picking up a new book, when there are do meant to get to.

        Happy Saturday!

  4. katieleigh March 2, 2012 at 9:49 am #

    You know how I feel about The Paris Wife and Unbroken, and oh, I loved The Night Circus. So magical.

    I’ve read SAA’s The Peach Keeper but not Garden Spells…will have to check it out!

    • Christy A. March 2, 2012 at 10:08 am #

      Oh, I’m GALD you liked The Night Circus! As commenter Cara said above, there has been mixed reviews on it, but I found it to be a great read. What would you say to people who review it saying that nothing much really happens?

      I loved The Peach Keeper, it’s definately my favorite SAA book after Garden Spells. If I’m remembering correctly, the characters in Garden Spells make a brief appearance in The Peach Keeper. (either that, or it was The Girl Who Chased The Moon. It’s been awhile.) Do you remember reading about a caterer named Claire Waverly and her neice Bay?


  1. Great Giveaway & Book Review: Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green « Books in the Burbs - March 4, 2012

    […] Friday Five: Books That Keep Me Up All Night ( […]

  2. March reads, part 2 « cakes, tea and dreams - March 30, 2012

    […] Spells, Sarah Addison Allen Christy recommended the story of the Waverley women, who all have a bit of magic in them. When prodigal sister Sydney […]

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