The Night Circus: For the Creative Book Club

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“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”  – Oscar Wilde

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“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.  But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.  True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.”  (Excerpted from:  http://erinmorgenstern.com/)

Do you need a great pick for your next book club?  Look no further…

The Night Circus is a magical book that will have your group talking into the night!  Without a doubt, it will be like no other book you’ve read before!  If you want to get creative, there are so many fun things you can do to make your guests feel as if they have entered:         Le Cirque des Rêves.

Invitations:  Most book clubs are pretty informal, but if you want to make this meeting a little more enticing, try coming up with a unique, circus themed invitation.  Check out these ones from Zazzle.  Not only are they circus-themed, but they are black, white and red – just like everything in the book!

black_white_circus_tent_with_red_ticket_birthday_invitation-rcc36fa3942de4545a2a683549b61b568_8dnm8_8byvr_512Be sure to invite your guests to wear Night Circus inspired clothing:  black, white, and of, course red!  As the Rêveurs, they should definitely wear a lovely red scarf!  This outfit is from Restyle, and it may be a little over the top.

754_3The gals in my book club would probably opt for something a little more casual, but we all love scarves!  This ruffled one from Etsy’s Maha Maha creations has a fun, circus-vibe, don’t you think?

il_570xN.430267579_8qsnDecorations:  Without a doubt, the decorations for your Night Circus party could  be out of this world.  However, if you have a real life, and can’t spend a fortune on decorations, here are a few ideas!

There were so many interesting tents at the circus, you could simply try to re-create one of them.  One of my favorite tents was “The Wishing Tree.”  Check out this tree from Kaboodle.  Wouldn’t it be fun to let your guests make a wish and light a candle, just like in the book?

large-71-metal-candle-tree-145One of the tents was papered with playing cards. It would be simple and easy to create a fun, playing-card garland to drape on the food table or across your fireplace.  This one came from Etsy’s Country Chiq.

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One of the most memorable tents was the Ice Garden.  Beautiful decorations could be made from clear vases, crystal-like accents, or perhaps these actual ice vases from HGTV.

ice_vase_2_lgOther decorating ideas that would fit with the book are:  mirrors, candles, bird cages, feathers, etc.

Food:  There are so many yummy foods that the characters enjoyed at the circus:  caramel corn, caramel apples, cinnamon twists, mulled cider and of course, the gourmet midnight dinners were feasts accompanied by decadent cakes and chocolate covered strawberries!  However, my favorite food at the carnival were the chocolate mice.  According to author, Erin Morgenstern, the mice were inspired by these ones from L.A. Burdick. Aren’t they adorable?

MiceTriangleThere are numerous chocolate mice recipes online.  Try this one from All Recipes.

133081Wouldn’t it be fun to let your guests enjoy yummy food on these amazing plates from Pottery Barn?  Perhaps you can find (or make) something similar!  The clock at the circus is an important part of the story, and time is something that affects the characters dramatically.  These would be perfect!

img15bPerhaps you want to add more circus flair by picking up some vintage popcorn bags from Etsy shop Spiral Sage.

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Activity: Many of the characters relied on the fortune telling abilities of Isobel, who discovered the secrets of others while keeping a very big secret about herself!  Set up a fun fortune teller’s table.  Get an “8-Ball” toy, buy a pack of Tarot Cards, spread out some tea-leaves. See what kind of fun you and your friends can have telling the future!  Sycamore Street Press has a lovely origami fortune teller party favor!  Remember these from when you were a kid?

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Discussion:  Well, we all hope that our book club gatherings end up with at least a little bit of discussion about the book, right?  Author, Erin Morgenstern, recommends the questions provided from the publisher at Random House.

Favors:  You probably couldn’t help going a bit overboard for this book club gathering, so why not send your guests off with a small token of your time together?  I think they would all love to settle in with a gooey caramel apple and your next book selection, don’t you? These ones are from Matisse Chocolatier, but you can try your hand at making your own!

applechocolateMissing Pieces Studio makes beautiful charms like this circus inspired beauty!

il_570xN.413758839_6ggdI hope your Night Circus book club gathering is as magical as the book. It just might last until midnight!

The Art of Reading with Marissa from “Rae Gun Wear”

More Books, More Miscellaneous, The Art of Reading

“May the odds be ever in your favor.”  Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

Today, I’m going to introduce you to Marissa from Rae Gun Wear, an Etsy shop where she makes the most adorable little outfits for babies and children.  Seriously, these are the kinds of outfits you want to have for your little one, so everyone around will say, “Oh my, that is so adorable!”  She shares her love of handmade, sewing, cooking, fashion and reading on her blog, Rae Gun Ramblings.  As a high school librarian, I love that Marissa is a fan of young-adult fiction, and I have had so much fun watching all of her recent, very creative, posts leading up to the recent premiere of The Hunger Games.  (I just love the way good authors are writing YA fiction that crosses-over to an adult audience.) I hope you enjoy reading about Marissa’s love of books and reading, and I hope you check-out her fun, online shop soon!

Blog:  Rae Gun Ramblings  Etsy Shop:  Rae Gun Wear

What creativity do you share with the world?  I work full time on my Etsy shop       Rae Gun Wear. I make handmade baby and toddler clothing. I absolutely love it! I sew anywhere from 5 to 13 hours almost every single day, but I love other kinds of crafts and cooking types of activities — although I admit I’m not as well practiced
in them.

 

Book OR e-reader? Book
Buy OR lend from the library? Lend, and then if I love it, I buy a copy!
Hardcover OR paperback? Hardcover
One book at a time OR several? Usually one at a time
Skip ahead and read the last page OR be patient and wait? I must go in order.
Bookmark or fold over the page corner? Bookmark                                         Abandon a bad book OR stick with it no matter what? Abandon. there are
too many good books to waste time!
Laugh OR cry? Come on, I can’t pick between these! I did both today with my book. Cover Love: I love the cover of Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

How do you choose the books you read?  I’m a goodreads.com addict. I tell everyone I meet that shares my love for reading to get on it, so I can befriend them and get more ideas. I love seeing what other people are reading, having them see what I’m reading, and just being able to interact in that way.

What is one of your early reading memories and why is it special?
My earliest reading memory is of being on vacations in Thailand, sitting in the back seat of a Jeep, reading Little Women as the sun set, and my available light was quickly dwindling, and I was trying to squeeze out as much story as I could.

If I could step into the setting of a book, and experience it first-hand, it would be…  A midnight dinner in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I am such a night-owl and a fan of good food. I would love the chance to dress up fancy, meet some interesting people, have some fantastic food, and do it all at midnight! In fact it’s 12:37 a.m. as I write this, and I’m wide awake.  I’ll probably work a few more hours until I crawl into bed with a book to settle down.

Do you have a favorite genre or genres?
YA dystopian, fantasy, sci-fi that sort of stuff. I like it because I think having main characters that are old enough to take adult problems seriously, but young enough not to be burned-out by the real world work (i.e bureaucracy, politics, etc.) is refreshing. These kids have a unique position where nothing is tying them down from being great. No mortgage, no family to support, and most of all, they have their whole future full of possibility before them. They make you remember that we can all strive to be better, help others, and make a difference.

What book have you read in the past year that stands out to you?

Divergent by Veronica Roth. I actually finished it and promptly moved it to my favorite books list. It lives there with the Harry Potter Books and the Ender’s Game/Shadow series by Orson Scott Card.   The characters are real to me. While they are admirable, they aren’t perfect, and I love that. More than that, I appreciated the mature love story. It is full of action and interesting concepts to think through. I feel like reading it made me want to strive to be a better person.

What are the characteristics of your favorite books?  I’m a sucker for kids with powers whether magical, mystical or just some developed skill or talent. I also really like school and dorm-like settings. More than that though my main characters have to be people worth admiring and respecting. They don’t have to be sugar-sweet, but this is my entertainment, and I want more than what I get from turning on the news!

One of my favorite biographies / memoirs is…

Escape by Caroline Jessop. I found the story to be fascinating and very moving. The author experienced some amazingly awful things, but instead of taking it out on the religion as a whole, which would be easy (and in my opinion totally fair) to do, she just told her story, and I found that to be even more compelling.

How do you fit reading into your busy life? I read while I do cardio. It’s like a bribe. I get to read if I get off my butt! I also read to calm my mind almost every night before I go to bed. Some nights I read for a few hours –some just a few minutes. I enjoy the escape, and I feel like I’m always learning and growing as I read.

By the way, Marissa shares some really yummy recipes on her blog!