The Night Circus

I had a lot of catching up to do on the work front today, so I was more than ready for a breather around lunchtime.

salad chicken barley 005

I made myself a big ol’ salad packed with the following:

  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Barley
  • Chopped chicken breast
  • Ginger sesame dressing

It was a delicious combination of flavors. The chewiness from the barley and tangy flavor from the dressing were my favorite aspects of the salad.

salad chicken barley 007

I was feelin’ the veggie high after eating that bad boy. It’s amazing how eating a lots of veggies really does make me feel more energetic. I should remember that the next time I’m tempted to eat cookies for lunch, huh?

Just in case you’re a barley lover like me, you may enjoy the following barley-based meals:

The Night Circus

The Night Circus was the book selected for January’s book club and one I’ve heard praised over and over again.

the night circus

My first thought when I read the brief description of the book was that it might be similar to Water for Elephants, a book I greatly enjoyed. It was definitely different than Water for Elephants, though it did include lots of romance and intrigue.

Brief Synopsis

The night circus is Le Cirque des Reves, or The Circus of Dreams, and is a magical circus that pops up unexpectedly all over the world at night. The tents that comprise the circus are filled with enchanting performances and exhibitions. The food offered at the circus tastes better and smells more intoxicating than any food you’ve ever had before. Patrons are entranced with the circus and fall in love with its magic luminosity.

But the circus is more than what it appears to the average person. It is the venue of an ongoing competition between two talented magicians, Celia and Marco, who are  chosen by two older magicians to battle in the circus, demonstrating breathtaking magic and elusions in an attempt to outdo the other.

Eventually the two young magicians fall deeply in love, complicating the competition, as only one magician can be declared the winner, which occurs only when the other falls.

My Review

I was definitely entertained as I read The Night Circus. While I didn’t find it extremely compelling (lots of detail!), I looked forward to snuggling into bed with the book and found myself more and more invested and intrigued by the story the further I got into the novel.

I was continually frustrated by the way the book jumped around from year to year and day to day, but eventually learned to pay attention to the dates at the beginning of the chapter so I wouldn’t have to flip back through to see when certain events occurred. I like books that occur in chronological order or at least make flashbacks very apparent. I was never lost while reading, just irritated.

As far as the core of the book is concerned, I loved the mystery surrounding the challenge. Not knowing what would allow either Celia or Marco to be declared the winner kept me guessing and left me curious as to what would happen to the loser, since a scar left by a magical ring clearly bound them to the challenge for life.

At first I had a hard time understanding how Celia and Marco seemed to develop this intense, passionate love for each other seemingly overnight after the big kiss in the middle of the ballroom, but once I just let that go and allowed myself to believe their love was pure and intense, I became much more invested in the outcome of the challenge, rooting for them to find a way to obliterate the challenge altogether and find a way to be with each other.

And I loved Herr Frederick Thiessen. Definitely my favorite character!

Blogger Link Up

Additional reviews of The Night Circus may be found on the following blogs:

If you post your review of The Night Circus after this post is published, please let me know and I’ll be sure to edit this post and add your review to the list!

Discussion Questions

  • How did you feel about Celia and Marco’s relationship? Did you find their chemistry compelling or far-fetched?
  • Which tent in Le Cirque des Reves would you most like to visit?
  • How did you feel about the timeline of The Night Circus? Did you enjoy the way it jumped around, or do you prefer a more linear timeline?
  • Which character was your favorite? Why?


  1. Laurie says

    I definitely agree about the timeline! I recommended it to a friend with the cavet that she pay very close attention to the years. My favorite character was the twins (yes, i am making them one character). I loved that their show was trained cats (so random), and I thought they were entertaining running around the circus. You review is right on — definitely a different book, but good once you get into it!


  2. says

    I’m 100% with you about the timeline. And Thiessen was my favorite character as well! I felt like he was the most developed of all of them next to Bailey (strangely as he was not one of the main characters)… I thought Celia & Marco’s chemistry was compelling, though like the characters was underdeveloped by the writer. I just felt like they were meant to be together, so it made sense when they connected so deeply so quickly. I can’t decide which tent I would most like to visit- the wishing tree, the ice garden and the labyrinth all intrigue me! I’d also love to see Celia’s illusions.


  3. says

    First of all, Yay! Thanks for the link, because of you I am getting lots of views!

    I definitely loved the Celia/Marco storyline, but was VERY drawn to the other one, Bailey & the twins, and I remember thinking the first time we saw Poppet as an adolescent (and she gave Bailey the glove) I was excited and was like “oh! I bet thats Poppet!”

    Overall, it was awesome, and I loved it. Can’t wait for our Feb book!


  4. says

    Barley definitely deserves more attention. And is packed with a ton of good nutrients.

    Being said, its on my list to cook more with. Right now I am on Israeli Cous cous. Which reminds me that I have a kick ass recipe for it in my magazine.

    Great salad!


  5. says

    hi Julie!

    1. you love to read, right? how do you find the time? in the AM? before bed time?
    do you keep your books on your bedside table? do you think your love of reading coincides with your love of writing?

    you’re a fast reader! that’s awesome, I am not.

    you love barley too! yipee! – jasper


    • says

      i do almost all of my reading before bed. it helps me fall asleep (unless the book is REALLY good) and i have always been a big reader. i think it has definitely impacted my love of writing. i actually get really bored watching television for the most part, so reading has always been my go-to way to unwind.


      • says

        julie! you’re so cool! i tried to read before bed and apply your 21-day-do-anything-and-make-a-habit philosophy because i (don’t 😉 ) stalk you! but i fell asleep, haha! each day is never to late to start over eh? :)!


  6. says

    Thank you so much for including me in your link up!

    My favorite character was Celia. I was drawn to her because she was so caring and sweet (her love for Marco and Thiessen, taking Poppett and Widget under her wing) and also strong and powerful keeping the circus going.


  7. says

    Ohh why do I never eat barley?? I need to change this because that looks amazing!! And your review of the Night Circus is great- my book list is pretty full at the moment but when I have a break maybe I’ll pick this one up!


  8. says

    My favorite tent was the cloud maze – I would love to jump off and fall into one!
    I had the same troubles you did with dates and eventually realized not much was going to happen but learned to really savor the descriptions of tricks and the circus itself. I hope a movie is on its way – can you imagine some of those tents on the big screen?!


  9. says

    thanks for the link-up!! your readers gave me a fun boost in views already!

    for me, the “love” was the WEAKEST part of the book. i just didn’t buy into it, despite my ability to “fall” into all the magic.

    i’d love to see the ice garden…can magic keep me warm though??

    as for the chronology….i was REALLY worried. i usually have trouble w/ tons of characters, although i do like switchig narrators. but somehow i was fine on this one. i think it is b/c the characters were so vivid.


  10. says

    Thanks so much for including my review! I think I was less drawn to the love story (perhaps because, as you said, it was kinda out of nowhere?) and more drawn to how the circus works and how the challenge plays out. My favorite tent was the cloud maze because it seems so fun to play in the clouds! Oh, and I think I liked the nonlinear timeline because it got me all excited when the two stories met up!


  11. says

    I liked Marco and Ceilia’s relationship because I love all love-stories but it kind of did come out of nowhere. I agree that once you suspend disbelief it gets a lot better.

    I would love to visit the tent Marco made for Ceilia with the ice flower garden in it. It sounds stunning.

    I was really confused about the timeline at first until I noticed one was 1800’s and one was 1900’s. It probably took me 1/4 of the way into the book to figure out how it worked but once it did I got the hang of it.

    My favorite characters were the twins! I loved them and thought they were probably the most well developed characters in the book!


  12. Rachel says

    I loved this book!
    I’m not normally a big romance fan, but I liked the way Celia and Marco’s relationship developed. Yes, it was a little out of nowhere. But I loved the way it was expained. Marco was chosen to be the perfect foil to Celia, so how could they not be drawn to each other?
    As far as the tents, I couldn’t pick just one. I’d love to visit Widget’s tent with the bottles. Or the Cloud Maze. Or the Illusionist. Yeah, or all of them. 🙂
    I also don’t know if I could pick a favorite character. I liked every character in their own way, even the unlikeable ones. I really did like the twins and Bailey together because I felt you really got to see them grow up. Also, loved the contortionist. She always knew what was going on.


  13. Dione says

    I actually had a hard time following at first but it became easier as I went on. By the end I loved it. I think it will be even better once I read it again. I thought it was a poetic romantic book and I’m glad I finally read it. Great choice!


  14. Meg @RunRideLove says

    I haven’t read the Night Circus yet, but think I need to now. I’ve bee eying it for a while. Also, you say that you didn’t like how the book jumped around in time. While I haven’t read it, it make me immediately think of the time-travelers wife! Also jumps around, but is so amazing. I love that book so much, and highly recommend it if you haven’t read it yet! (and if you only saw the movie, it does not do it justice at all!)


  15. says

    I saw on here that you were reading that book for your book review deal and I kept seeing it all over, so I decided to read it. I LOVED it. I had a hard time with the dates jumping around so much too, but overall I enjoyed it a lot.


  16. Alison says

    Since we didn’t have a book club in September, I decided to catch up on previous books I missed! I read Room and The Night Circus and thoroughly enjoyed both novels! I just finished The Night Circus yesterday and agree with a lot of what you wrote in your review. If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be: ENCHANTING. I looked forward to curling up on my couch with this book every night and getting lost in the whimsical world of Les Cirque des Reves. Despite it’s slow plot and the frustration of keeping track of dates, I was continually drawn to the beautiful imagery, magical elements, hint of mystery, and unique characters. I enjoyed reading about Celia & Marco’s relationship (although it seemed far fetched at first) but especially enjoyed reading about Bailey, Poppet, and Widget. There are so many tents I would like to visit in the circus including Celia’s, the cloud maze, and the ice garden. Overall, an imaginative, creative, and dreamy read!


  17. Hayley says

    I should’ve remembered your review before I started reading The Night Circus on audio because it definitely made keeping up with the names, dates and locations much more confusing! Luckily I had checked it out in book form as well so I turned to that at night to make sure I understood the order. Despite all that, I really enjoyed the story. It’s unlike any other book I’ve read and I’d be interested to know if it’s going to be made into a movie! I’d love to see the visuals come to life, especially the Ice Garden tent and Tsukiko’s act!


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