Adorkable by Sarra Manning: review

10890319Adorkable by Sarra Manning
Stand Alone
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Publisher: Atom
Release Date: May 24th 2012
Synopsis: Welcome to the dorkside. It’s going to be a bumpy ride…

Jeane Smith’s a blogger, a dreamer, a dare-to-dreamer, a jumble sale queen, CEO of her own lifestyle brand and has half a million followers on twitter.

Michael Lee’s a star of school, stage and playing field. A golden boy in a Jack Wills hoodie.

They have nothing in common but a pair of cheating exes. So why can’t they stop snogging?

My Thoughts:

“We have nothing to declare but our dorkiness.”

Adorkable is a contemporary novel that I found to be undeniably charming. The book is fun, adorable, and has a really good message. Adorkable also had an uncanny ability to make me laugh, which is always a good thing 😉 This might not be a contemporary filled with emotion and impact, but it was fun.

I admit that the plot is a little ridiculous and the circumstances in the book can be even more ridiculous. I myself probably wouldn’t have liked this book as much as I had if it wasn’t for one thing: Sarra Manning’s great characters.

First is Jeane Smith, who is now one of my favorite characters. Jeane Smith is the blogger (see? She’s awesome already) behind the famous Adorkable, has half a million followers on Twitter, is the queen of jumble sales, and isn’t at all afraid of being her. She can be really terrible, but even then she is sort of fantastic.

“Never shield your oddness, but wear your oddness like a shield.”  

Jeane is one of those people who, upon hearing that you don’t approve of them, will say, “So? I think I’m freaking amazing” and then walk calmly away as if you didn’t exist. I find that absolutely refreshing since there definitely aren’t many characters out there that are like that.

Michael Lee wasn’t as amazing as Jeane, but he was definitely good. I was actually surprised by how believable and honest he was written. Even though he is a genuinely good person, Michael Lee’s thoughts can be pretty unpleasant at times, especially when Jeane is being a little intolerable. But I’ve always valued honest and imperfect more than unbelievable and perfect, so me and Michael Lee got along just fine.

The chemistry and relationship between Jeane and Michael Lee: Perfectly written. Jeane and Michael Lee’s relationship is an undeniably messy one. The way it progresses is not the norm. But that messy relationship was perfectly written, and to be honest, even when Jeane and Michael Lee were verbally battling out, I wished that I was a character in the book so I could ‘accidentally’ push the two together.

Manning’s writing is great, with dialogue and narrative that really made me smile and laugh, making Adorkable a breeze to read. She seemed to know exactly what she wanted to write and understood how she was going to do it.

Adorkable is a very good contemporary and is one of the more refreshing stories out of the genre. I would recommend this book to lovers of fun, adorable stories with great characters. Oh, and also people who want to take a step into the dorkside. Because the dorkside really needs some members.

Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy: review

CriminalCriminal by Terra Elan McVoy
Stand Alone
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult/New Adult
Genre: Realistic, Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 7th 2013
Synopsis: A searing and gripping read that explores the depths of desperation true love can inspire, from the author of Being Friends with Boys.

Nikki’s life is far from perfect, but at least she has Dee. Her friends tell her that Dee is no good, but Nikki can’t imagine herself without him. He’s hot, he’s dangerous, he has her initials tattooed over his heart, and she loves him more than anything. There’s nothing Nikki wouldn’t do for Dee. Absolutely nothing.

So when Dee pulls Nikki into a crime—a crime that ends in murder—Nikki tells herself that it’s all for true love. Nothing can break them apart. Not the police. Not the arrest that lands Nikki in jail. Not even the investigators who want her to testify against him.

But what if Dee had motives that Nikki knew nothing about? Nikki’s love for Dee is supposed to be unconditional…but even true love has a limit. And Nikki just might have reached hers.

My Thoughts:

I believe that there are different ways to love someone. After reading so many books, watching so many movies and T.V. shows, I think that I have found out about many of those ways. But Criminal is the first novel that I have read that features such a dark, startling honest story about the consequences of being utterly blinded by love. But awhile this is a strong and solid story, I did have a few quibbles here and there.

The Things That I Liked–

— Criminal is super addictive. The story is tough to read through at times, but there is just something so compulsively addictive. Perhaps it is the yearning of knowing the characters’ fates. Perhaps it is the massive want of finally seeing the bright light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever it was, it kept me reading.

— I also have to say that Criminal packs quite a punch. There were times that I felt like it was hopeless. There were times when I celebrated. And then there were times when I just felt angry. McVoy did an excellent job at pulling just the right emotions out of me.

— The writing, although it is very minimalistic at times, is very good. McVoy’s prose matches the mood of the story perfectly, enhancing the dark, cold feel that I already felt all too well.

–Nikki is the type of character who needs to be written with a careful hand. She is very, very rough around the edges. She is desperate, blinded by love. But it is that terrible flaw that makes her transition from a girl who can’t see to a girl who can is incredible. Nikki’s growth as a person is a reason alone to read this novel.

— The side characters were given a fair amount of attention and written well. Bird, Priscilla, and the rest of the group were created with finesse. Awhile some like Cherry can be categorized easily, most of them can’t.

The Things That I Didn’t Like

— I feel massively disappointed by Dee’s character. As the reader, all I could feel towards him was hatred and disgust. I could feel nothing else. Nothing else at all. You see, I like antagonist who are fleshed out. I like feeling sympathy, even if just a fragment of it, toward them. The reader doesn’t learn anything about Dee, which is, to be blunt, disappointing.

— Open endings are not normally my thing. And the ending of this book is no exception. The end of Criminal would have been much more satisfying if it had an epilogue devoted to Nikki’s future.

The Verdict

Criminal is a dark story with solid writing and a good group of characters that knows what story it is trying to tell– and is completely honest about it. Which is absolutely refreshing. I would certainly recommend this novel to people who are aching for a story that doesn’t hold back anything.

Seven Days by Venio Tachibana, Rihito Takarai: series review

Seven Days Vol.1-2Seven Days by Venio Tachibana, Rihito Takarai (Illustrator)
Series: Seven Days #1-2
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Shounen-ai, Romance, Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Publisher:  Digital Manga Publishing

My Thoughts:

Now before I start babbling about how much I loved Seven Days, I need to say that I haven’t read much shounen-ai. Not because I dislike the genre, but because I always seem to be picking up the more… sexually explicit titles by mistake. These little mishaps has caused me to kind of avoid the genre except for on a few rare occasions.

But luckily, I stumbled upon a couple of raving reviews for this gem. And then I found out that the featured couple don’t do anything more than kiss a couple of times. So I started reading. I am so, so glad I did.

Seven Days first introduces us to Shino Yuzuro, a handsome boy who is described to have an air of perfection around him. But because of his blunt, kind-of-impolite personality, girls who date him become disappointed and dump him, and even his friends say he is a waste of a pretty face.

On a certain Monday, Yuzuru happens to meet with Seryou, a guy who is notorious for his habit of dating the first person to ask him out at the beginning of the week and then immediately dumping that same person on Sunday if he doesn’t develop any feelings for that person (which he normally doesn’t). And since Seryou makes that person feel absolutely special those seven days he is with them, he remains popular and well-liked.

After finding out that no one has managed to ask Seryou out yet, Yuzuru asks Seryou to date him. Awhile Yuzuru meant it as a joke, Seryou takes the request seriously and proceeds to stick with his habit. Thus begins a seven day love story.

Reading Seven Days was a bit of a surreal experience. I owe this to the fact that the seven days the manga covers starts to stretch into an amount of ‘time’ that feels longer than just seven days. It feels like Yuzuru and Seryou were together for more than just seven days. Which I feel is quite fitting since, crazily enough, it took three years for this short, two volume series to get completely published in a quarterly magazine.

Although the series is very short, the characters still manage to be developed. Seven Days balances the forwarding of the romance with the development of the characters. So at the very end, the reader know Yuzuru and Seryou well enough that they feel like real people with both flaws and good qualities. I do have a deep want to learn more about these characters, but given the shortness of the series, the creators did a great job at developing them.

The romance is really sweet. The kind of sweet that really makes a person giddy. The kind of way that makes a person go “awww” every few pages. Even though Yuzuru and Seryou are only together for seven days, the romance doesn’t seem to develop to quickly at all. The creators fit in that awkwardness that is present at the beginning of a relationship and everything after that. The growing feelings between seems very natural. Awhile it might be too early to say “I love you,” I didn’t feel like Seven Days had a bad case of insta-love.

One of the best things about the romance is how it is portrayed. It isn’t based on appearances, nor does it base itself on cliches. It is a very pure and captivating kind of love that develops between the two. They love  each other, flaws and all.

It should noted that the story doesn’t revolve around the fact that Yuzuru and Seryou are both boys. In fact, their sexuality doesn’t cause them much trouble at all. Seven Days is more focused on people and their personalities more than what gender a person is interested.

Takarai’s art is pretty in a delicate way. The characters are especially drawn nicely, and the backgrounds are pleasant to look at, also. The art also does a fantastic job at giving a very peaceful, mellow mood to read with.

I was thoroughly endeared by Seven Days. The characters, the romance, the story, the art. Everything is painted in such of an eloquent way. I can really see why this manga has obtained so many loving fans. This is certainly going to be a seven day story I won’t be forgetting.

How To Lead A Life Of Crime by Kirsten Miller: review

How to Lead a Life of CrimeHow to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
Stand Alone
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary, Thriller
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 21st 2013
Synopsis: A meth dealer. A prostitute. A serial killer.

Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.

Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?

My Thoughts: 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the first chapter to the last. I would even say that I love this book in the way I would love a (fictional) bad boy. There’s priceless dark humor, good ol’ snark, thievery, trickery, flawlessly made characters, a well-planned conspiracy, and a heart-pounding story filled with danger. How to Lead a Life of Crime is a novel that stuck to my hands until I finished. And after I finished the novel, I was whispering to the little hardcover these words:

Nobody stared at me strangely at all awhile I said it, either.

Looking at the synopsis, it’s not hard to get the wrong idea. I myself thought that this was going to be one of those stories that can be compared to a teen graphic novel or movie. But what I thought that this book was going to be like was completely wrong. How to Lead a Life of Crime doesn’t kid around. The Mandel Academy is ruthless and dangerous. Most of the students of the academy have lost hope, and some of them are just crazy. There is definitely that anybody can die atmosphere. And the villain, well, he seems to know exactly what the protagonist are planning at all times.

The carefully planned conspiracy that is happening behind the locked doors of Mandel Academy is perfectly executed. And really, I had a hard time not believing it. Kirsten Miller blends the Mandel Academy so well into the contemporary world of How to Lead a Life of Crime that it actually started to blend into what is happening in reality.

The idea of an academy that takes in kids from the streets, turns them into unfeeling people only after their own desires, and setting them out into the world as powerful people to manipulate the lesser powerful might be hard to believe at first. But if you think about it, it’s kind of not. How many times have people with power or fame been accused of having a hidden agenda that could have negative affects on the population as a whole? Definitely not just a few times.

White did an amazing job writing an authentic male character and voice. In fact, Flick is the best well-written character I ever had the pleasure of encountering. His character is wholly unpredictable. I do remember being shocked by his decisions many times awhile reading this book. And his flaws are brilliantly written in a way that makes the reader look past them and look for the good person behind them all, which isn’t hard to do as the story progresses.

Joi is just as great as Flick. My jaw dropped when she returned. She kicked so much butt with the way she lead and conquered. She is confident in her peer’s skills and invested trust when she knew she could, unlike Flick who tries to go solo. Seriously, this girl is amazing.

How to Lead a Life of Crime also features side characters that play roles that are almost as important as Flick and Joi’s roles in the story. If characters like Ella, Violet, or Aubrey weren’t in the book, I’m pretty sure that everyone would be dead in a puddle of blood or completely brainwashed.

The emotion that the author was able to pull from me was surprising. I don’t think I have worried for a character’s life that much. And don’t even get me started on all the thrill and excitement I went through.

The prose comes with an abundance of clear descriptive writing and sensory, as well as doses of ultra-awesome snark and dark humor that had me laughing out loud. Never had I read a novel with such great snark in the prose.

“’See? You’re the crazy one, you redheaded freak.’

I’ve been attempting to translate the phrase into Latin. If I ever succeed, I shall make it my personal motto.”

The only flaw that I can find in How to Lead a Life of Crime is the censoring of ‘fuck.’ Instead of being written as a complete word, the word is written as ‘f—-.’ I didn’t find any point of doing that. The reader knows what word is being used, so the censoring just becomes an annoyance. But that’s only a itty bitty, tiny flaw that flew right over my head once I got sucked in by the story.

I have nothing but praise for How to Lead a Life of Crime. The plot is incredible, the characters make White worthy of an award, the writing is amazing, and the conspiracy is believable. My only regret about reading this book is that I’m going to be wanting more for the rest of my life. Why must this be a stand alone?

Note: There are also many references to Peter Pan, so if you are a fan of the classic, then you might love this book, also!

Every Day by David Levithan: review

Every DayEvery Day by David Levithan
Stand Alone
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 28th 2012
Synopsis: Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

My Thoughts:

David Levithan, you have succeeded in creating a novel that is breathtaking, thought-provoking, and ultimately philophical. Plus, your novel has a pretty nice cover also 😉

Every Day is one of those beauties that make you think. Not just about what it’s like to be in a different body every day of your life (although, that in itself is a thing that can make you think), but also about the struggles that people go through. This book covers many different topics in such a short amount of pages. Not that this novel is short, but it’s able to fit in such a great amount of topics that it does, in fact, seem short.

What I loved most about Every Day is the wide range of people we get to meet because of A’s forced ability to go into a different body each day. In this book, the reader is shown the life of a girl with depression and many others. These lives are portrayed in such a sensitive and touching way. Some are happy, some are sad, and some are average. But Levithan somehow shows the light in all of them, no matter how dim it may be.

Levithan’s writing is very pleasant to read. It was pretty and sometimes lyrical, even. And the underlying messages that Levithan managed to insert in between the lines were very, very appreciated by me.

A is a character that has become wise because of his…unusual life, but is still very flawed. He strongly believes that love will conquer all when it really doesn’t, not all the time. I found this mentality to be grating on the nerves at times, but I understood why he thought that, why he wanted to hold on to that. Even though he experiences all these different ways of living for a day, he hasn’t experienced what an actual life is like, so he finds the little things to hold on to.

There are a few things that could prove to be a bit bothersome to people who want the stories they read to have a realistically developed romance and reasons of why things are happening to be explained. Like how A has an almost instantaneous love for Rhiannon, and that the reason A’s mind is teleported into a different body each day. But for me, that development and those explanations were not needed. They didn’t feel needed.

The ending is a certain aspect of the story that I feel conflicted about. In a technical way, it was perfect. It was hard on the heart and vague. There was not other way to end it. But I just couldn’t get myself to like it. I only occasionally like vague endings, and Every Day isn’t one of those vague endings I liked.

I haven’t read any other Levithan books, so this is my first taste of what this man can write. But I can promise that Every Day is only the beginning of my journey through the library, looking for books with the name David Levithan on the spine.

The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan: review

The Waiting TreeThe Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan
Stand Alone
My Rating: 
1 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic, LGBTQ+
Publisher: Amazon Children’s Publishing
Release Date: May 14th 2013
Synopsis: Eighteen-year-old Simon Peters wants to stand up for the truth about who he is. His love for Stephen is unwavering, but does he have the courage to defend it when his entire church community, including his eldest brother has ostracized him? Trapped in a cashier’s job he hates, struggling to maintain peace with his brothers after their parents have died, and determined to look after his mute brother, Simon puts everyone else’s needs before his own. It takes a courageous act of self-sacrifice on Jude’s part to change both of their lives forever. Jude, who knew that when the fig tree in their yard began to bloom, it was his time to finally be heard and to set Simon free.

My Thoughts:

The Waiting Tree first caught my interest when I saw the dazzling cover that the book proudly showed off. Just look at the greens and blues and the tree mosaic! The cover is an absolute beauty. Unfortunately the contents are not nearly as good as the cover. In fact, I really wish that I just admired the cover from afar and didn’t read the book at all. This novel just made me angry.

The story isn’t centered on Simon being gay as much as it is centered on the cruelties of people and the unfairness of life. Most of the cruelties Simon has to endure is because of the gender he is attracted to, but that isn’t all the book is about. It’s about how people seem to push away and hate people who are not ‘normal.’

First and foremost, I felt that The Waiting Tree is just very extremely negative with its portrayal of things. Almost all the characters in this book, aside from Simon and his friends, are thought of as either hypocrites or people who are just cruel. The members of the church are specifically portrayed in a negative manner. This book doesn’t show the other side of the church that is accepting and caring. I know that there are people who are devoted Christians that don’t mind that you like people of the same gender as yourself. But that isn’t shown anywhere in this novel.

The characters weren’t all to great either. I can’t say that I loved them, much less liked them (except for Jude. Bless his heart). I just couldn’t feel any strong emotion for them other than rage. Not a good sign when the book’s purpose is to pull on heartstrings.

Another major flaw is the ending. Nothing is resolved by the time the ending comes. It’s vague and literally ends with a “this is just the beginning” line. If this was a series, I might forgive that, but this isn’t a series. So I basically just trudged through a ton of things that offended me greatly and sent me into rage only to feel unsatisfied. The Waiting Tree is only 218 pages. Surely the author could have added 50 or a 100 more pages to tie things up, right?

If you are looking for a book that writes the issue of being ostracized in a sensitive way I would recommend Speechless by Hannah Harrington, a book that not only has amazing characters that are rough around the edges, but also an ending that doesn’t make me want to throw my Kindle across the room.

An advanced copy was provided in exchange for a honest review via Netgalley.

Gadget Girl by Suzanne Kamata: review

Gadget Girl: The Art of Being InvisibleGadget Girl by Suzanne Kamata
Stand Alone
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: GemmaMedia
Release Date: May 17th 2013
Synopsis: Aiko Cassidy is fourteen and lives with her sculptor mother in a small Midwestern town. For most of her young life Aiko, who has cerebral palsy, has been her mother’s muse. But now, she no longer wants to pose for the sculptures that have made her mother famous and have put food on the table. Aiko works hard on her own dream of becoming a great manga artist with a secret identity.

When Aiko’s mother invites her to Paris for a major exhibition of her work, Aiko at first resists. She’d much rather go to Japan, Manga Capital of the World, where she might be able to finally meet her father, the indigo farmer. When she gets to France, however, a hot waiter with a passion for manga and an interest in Aiko makes her wonder if being invisible is such a great thing after all. And a side trip to Lourdes, ridiculous as it seems to her, might just change her life.

Gadget Girl began as a novella published in Cicada. The story won the SCBWI Magazine Merit Award in Fiction and was included in an anthology of the best stories published in Cicada over the past ten years.

My Thoughts:

Awhile this book could have had a little bit more ‘oomph’, Gadget Girl is a quiet, mellow read with dashes of both sadness and sweetness. A reader may find it hard to get through the less-than-enjoyable but necessary beginning, but afterwards, the reader will want to read until the end.

Aiko, the protagonist, is a girl who has lived with cerebral palsy for her whole life and is also her artist mother’s muse. But even with her mother’s attempts of showing that Aiko is beautiful through art, Aiko still has self-esteem issues from being mocked by her classmates.

Her solace, though, is her creation: the Gadget Girl manga, and her hopes of travelling to Japan and meeting her father the indigo farmer for the first time.

Unfortunately her future plans are interrupted when her mother finds a new man she loves, Raoul, and wins the grand prize on an art show, thus allowing her to go to Paris (instead of Japan). But Aiko will learn that Paris might be better than Japan as she unwittingly finds herself on a but of a journey, learning to accept herself for who she is , to forgive, and maybe even what first love is like.

When reading this book, I felt myself really enjoying the time I was having with Aiko. She is a bit of a killjoy and understandably so, but there was something very strong about her. And the fact that we had common interest like manga was a pretty good thing too 🙂 I was very engaged in her story of self-acceptance and learning to forgive.

The relationships that Aiko builds with the people that she meets in France, with her mother, and Raoul are what made the story, for me. The kind-of romance is done pretty well, the love and conflict between Aiko and her mother is done amazingly well, and Raoul’s relationship with Aiko is more of a comforting one. I could really feel the feelings that Aiko had toward these people and how they were affecting her. That is no easy feat.

And the art element! I love it! Gadget Girl gives a lot of information about famous artist and their works, including manga, of course. So if you love art and are looking for a book that has many references, this might just be for you 😉

The prose and dialogue could have had more life put into them. The writing isn’t remarkable in any way for the most part except for its readability. But in the times Kamata really needed to, she wrote with passion and I could really feel the emotion flooding me.

Despite my overall enjoyment of this book, though, I do have one major quibble. And that is how boring the beginning is. It was a necessary beginning, but I feel that there could have been something down that could have made it more than a bland but necessary part of a story.

Gadget Girl is just a well-written story that does a great job depicting a teenage girl’s troubles in life and how she learns to overcome them. This isn’t a story for everyone since it isn’t overly emotional or exciting, but Gadget Girl will find an audience that will appreciate it.

This post is part of the Gadget Girl Blog Tour. An advanced copy was provided in exchange for a honest review.

That Time I Joined The Circus by J.J. Howard: review

That Time I Joined the CircusThat Time I Joined The Circus by J.J. Howard
Stand Alone
My Rating: 
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Realistic
Publisher: Point
Release Date: April 1st 2013
Synopsis: Lexi Ryan just ran away to join the circus, but not on purpose.

A music-obsessed, slightly snarky New York City girl, Lexi is on her own. After making a huge mistake–and facing a terrible tragedy–Lexi has no choice but to track down her long-absent mother. Rumor has it that Lexi’s mom is somewhere in Florida with a traveling circus.

When Lexi arrives at her new, three-ring reality, her mom isn’t there . . . but her destiny might be. Surrounded by tigers, elephants, and trapeze artists, Lexi finds some surprising friends and an even more surprising chance at true love. She even lucks into a spot as the circus’s fortune teller, reading tarot cards and making predictions.

But then Lexi’s ex-best friend from home shows up, and suddenly it’s Lexi’s own future that’s thrown into question.

With humor, wisdom, and a dazzlingly fresh voice, this debut reminds us of the magic of circus tents, city lights, first kisses, and the importance of an excellent playlist.

My Thoughts:

I can’t help but sort of love this novel. Sure, it’s flawed and can be a bit ridiculous at times but there is just something so charming about That Time I Joined the Circus that literally makes me utterly unable to dislike it.

Things I Liked: Okay, awhile I do wish there was more of this:

…. I did like the circus element of the story. The circus was more of the background than the main part of the story, but still. I love me some circus-y fun.

The protagonist, Lexi, is childish but she does have a very self-deprecating, slightly snarky voice that will make a person laugh more than a few times. I could also relate to her and her feelings of being left out by her friends Eli and Bailey in a big way. And I kind of loved that she sort of blunders about through a lot of things. Her growth and revelations throughout the story is a reason to read this book alone. And I really appreciated the fact that it is not just mentioned that she is bookish and likes music. She actually reads books and listens to music.

Most of the side characters are equally as loveable and colorful as Lexi. Lina and Liska may seem a bit cold at first, but further development shows that they are actually very sweet characters that provide Lexi the friendship that she needs. Jamie is very silly (more so towards the end than the beginning) and I found myself loving him almost immediately. And awhile I did get annoyed by him sometimes, Nick is a kind person who really shows that he cares about Lexi. Plus, he had a hilarious habit of picking Lexi up and carrying her away like a man would do in a cheap romance novel 😛

The rest of the circus crew, awhile not remarkable enough to describe in depth, have a very pleasant presence and they really do enhance the novel in their own little way.

And the humor! Oh the humor is definitely for the people who like snark and love reading book with snarky words and sentences. I couldn’t get enough of it! You did well on this one, J.J. Howard, very well.

Things I Disliked: Of course, there are a whole ton of flaws that are hidden in That Time I Joined the Circus‘s pages. And they are all only painfully obvious toward and in the ending. (Beware readers: This part of the review has some spoilery!) Here’s a list of all those bad, terrible flaws:

  1. Lexi’s reunion with her mother was mediocre at best. There was barely any poignancy  or happiness or sweetness radiating through the pages at all during the event. So I was very disappointed, especially since it was one of the most important events in the book.
  2. I don’t think it is ever acceptable to just throw away a nice, kind boy that is part of a love triangle in order to have the female protagonist end up with the other part. Even more so when the boy the female protagonist does end up with is selfish, stupid, and caused the girl a heck of a lot of hurt.
  3. There were so many convenient things happening to tie the story up in a neat little bow that it got really, really annoying.
  4. This is kind of nit-picky, but I’m just going to say it: One of the teenage girls that are a part of the circus is getting married to another teenage boy. First of all, teenagers should not be getting married. They should just have fun dating and doing all the stupid things us teenagers do.

Overall, this was a nice, short, and fun read that I will probably return to whenever I need a laugh. That Time I Joined the Circus could have been a favorite, but the flaws that are oh so apparent at the end were just to bothersome to ignore.

An advanced copy was provided in exchange for a honest review via Netgalley.