“That Time I Joined the Circus”—A Book Review

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That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard was a thoughtful tale that makes you take stock of the things around you.

Left with nothing, her father recently dead, her runaway mother being who-knows-where, Lexi is left with nothing but a bus ticket out of New York, a duffle bag’s worth of belongings, and word-of-mouth-hunch that her mother may or may not be with a traveling circus in Florida.

  When Lexi arrives at the Europa Circus in Florida and discovers her mother is not there, she is out of options. She has no money, no food, and no place to sleep. Taking pity on her, the Ringmaster offers Lexi a job, and crew quarters to sleep in.

Having no one in the world to count on or talk to (her old best friends in New York abandoned her), Lexi has no choice but to make the best out of a completely crappy situation. Learning to break out of her shell , Lexi makes true friends, has a shot at love, and learns that the word “home” doesn’t necessarily mean a building or a particular place, but rather, it can mean being with the people you love, no matter where you are geographically.

Told in back and forth present and past tense, this novel really makes you take a look at how you view and live life. Sometimes life is crappy, merely because we don’t have the guts to do anything to change it. And sometimes crappy things just happen, but how you react to it is entirely up to you.

I give this insightful story four out of five stars.

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“The Diviners”—A Book Review/Sort-of-Rant

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The Diviners by Libba Bray received some pretty awesome reviews, so I decided to check it out. I gotta say, I just wasn’t feeling it. It appears the whole ghost-serial-killer thing is pretty popular right now, but this book just didn’t quite deliver as well as Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star (which I also didn’t find to be fantastic, but was definitely better than The Diviners).

Evie O’Neill has a gift: By holding someone’s personal possession, she can sort of enter a person’s mind and tell them anything having to do with the object—including any thoughts or emotions a person may have ever had while holding the object. When Evie was drunk at a party in her hometown in Ohio, she got pissed off at a big-to-do rich kid and held an object of his to discover that he had cheated on his fiancé and gotten a girl knocked up. Refusing to issue an official apology, her parents shipped her off to New York City to live with her uncle, the curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult. That’s the official name, anyway—Evie and her friends refer to it as The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies. 

This story takes place during the flapper era, a time when bobbed hair, rhinestones, and feathers are the fashion. Evie is posi-toot-ly thrilled to be in the glamorous city of New York. She cannot wait to go to speak easies and drink large quantities of gin with her starlet friend.

During this time, though, a string of super strange killings are occurring in the area. Because of the bizarre nature in which the bodies are found, the police have called upon Evie’s uncle to help with the investigation, seeing as he specializes in the weird and paranormal.

That’s pretty much the whole premise of the book. Being completely honest with you, I couldn’t even finish it. The main character, Evie, got on my nerves like crazy. She is completely self-centered and spoiled. To her, life is just one big game and anyone that doesn’t go along with her childish whims is basically considered an asshole.

That’s basically all that has happened in the 335 pages that I did manage to stomach, nothing else happens except a small side story of a few other “diviners” (people with special abilities, such as healing and prophesying) a nerdy friend in Evie’s uncle’s apartment building having a crush on Evie’s Uncle’s assistant, and her uncle hiring a charming young thief that pick pocketed Evie upon her arrival in New York.

The only plus I would say this book had going for it was the song that the serial killer sang as he prepared to kill his victims: Naughty John, Naughty John, does his work with his apron on, cuts your throat and takes your bones, sells ‘em off for a coupla stones.”

I’m sad to say that, despite the great reviews others gave, I can only give this book two out of three stars.

I don’t even have any fabulous quotes to share with you…the creepy song was the only part I liked enough to note.

The Strand

The Strand

This photo was taken at The Strand in New York City this past weekend.
Can I tell you, this place has got to be what Heaven looks like (unless it looks like the library in “Beauty and the Beast”). There are 18 miles of books in this place–including new, used, and rare books. The bookshelves are LITERALLY floor to ceiling and they have a ladder in each aisle so that you may venture to the tippy top of the shelves, if you dare.
Sadly, I was only able to stay a few minutes, but on my next visit I plan on spending at least an entire day in there.

Also, the book that I am holding, “Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares” is a Teen book written by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan that actually centers around The Strand!
The story takes place over Christmas break, during which time both Dash and Lily find themselves alone. While perusing through the bookshelves of The Strand, Lily puts a moleskin notebook on the shelf with a dare in it. Dash finds the notebook and decides “what the hell” and takes the dare, leading to Lily (the dare initiator) and him exchanging this red notebook all over the city, completing dares and challenging each other.
This book is full of wit and charm that is sure to satisfy. I highly recommend this read!