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.

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Kobato Vol.2 by CLAMP: review

 Kobato, Volume 2Volume 2 by CLAMP

Series: Kobato #2

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Shojo, Fantasy, Humour

Publisher: Yen Press(english)

Synopsis: Now that cheerful, clumsy, and often clueless Kobato has her magic bottle, all she has to do is fill it up with the sorrows of wounded hearts to realize her one greatest wish. The only problem is Kobato doesn’t have any idea how to cure one wounded heart, let alone a whole bottleful! Still learning about the world under Ioryogi-san’s instruction (read: browbeating), Kobato starts out by offering a helping hand to Sayaka-sensei, the director of a kindergarten that’s fallen on hard times. Can Kobato’s limitless cheer break through the dark shadows that surround the fate of the center? And at the end of the day, will she be any closer to filling up the magic bottle?

My thoughts: This volume had a little more substance then the last one now that Kobato has her “bottle”. Kobato volunteers to work at the Yomogi kindergarten which is owned by Sayaka Okiura.  Fujimoto, a man Kobato meets in the first volume also happens to work there. They do not get along very well. All seems well and happy until a loan shark tells Kobato that Sayaka better pay up the money she owes.

I really liked this volume because Kobato is able to fill up the bottle a bit making her closer in getting her wish. There was also more plot in this volume. Instead of Kobato wandering around town trying to help people out there is a big problem in volume two. Kobato must help Sayaka pay her debt so the kindergarten will be able to stay in business.

There is some character development in Fujimoto. At first he seems like a bit of a jerk but it is slowly revealed that he really cares for Sayaka and the kindergarten and wants to help out. Although Kobato and him don’t get along very well she does mention that she thinks that he has “a scar on his heart”. I want to learn more about him. Sayaka seems like a really nice woman and I do hope that everything will go well for her. It is mentioned that someone had hurt her in the past so I am curious about that. The loan shark is always smiling…and smoking.

The art is still beautiful and bubbly. I really love all of Kobato’s outfits. They are a bit weird but they are pretty nevertheless.

I don’t think this is a five-star manga yet although I am familiar with CLAMP’s other works and they are all amazing so I have high hopes for this series.

Bossypants by Tina Fey: review

Bossypants Bossypants by Tina Fey

Standalone

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction, Memoir, Humour

Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books

Synopsis: Before Liz Lemon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.
She has seen both these dreams come true.
At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.
Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

My Thoughts: This book was hilarious! Not every sentence was laugh at loud but there were many parts where I laughed myself out of my chair. I really loved learning more about Tina Fey. She is a very intelligent and respectful person and she works very hard. She is also super caring. I loved the section of the book that she dedicated to just telling about her daughter and the prayer to God she wrote down that ask to keep her safe. It was really heart-warming and funny.

She is awesome at telling you things that are normally not funny in a funny way. She is a genius at that. In this book she talks about her childhood, school-life, SNL, Weekend Update, 30 Rock, Sarah Palin, and being a mother. She delivers this to you in a big package of hilarity and awesomeness. She is very honest about how she felt about things and she never sugar coats anything. Also she showed us a cover of a feminist magazine that she believes photshopped her best. Here it is:

That picture is very awesome isn’t it? Also Tina reads books! Can she get even more awesome? I think not.

Kobato Vol.1 by CLAMP: review

Kobato, Volume 1

Kobato Vol.1by CLAMP

Series: Kobato #1

Genre: Shojo, Fantasy, Humour

Publishers: Yen Press(english)

Synopsis: Meet Kobato Hanato, a sweet and rather simple young girl on a quest to have her single, dearest wish granted. But first, she must learn the ways of the world from Ioryogi-san, a gruff blue dog whose bark is just as bad as his bite! Under his “tutelage” (read: constant verbal abuse), Kobato puts her efforts into passing various trials of common sense so that she may obtain the key to getting her wish-a magic bottle which must be filled with the suffering of wounded hearts that Kobato herself has healed. But with Kobato’s common sense sorely lacking, she keeps flunking Ioryogi-san’s trials left and right! It looks like the road that lies ahead of Kobato will be a long one indeed!

I have read some of CLAMP’s works and I loved them all so when I found about Kobato I immediately went out to buy it. Kobato did make me smile and laugh but I was expecting a bit more from it.

Kobato and Ioryogi were both very quirky and loveable characters. Kobato was…dumb and silly but still very loveable. She is like a really stupid kitty-stupid but really cute and loveable. She is very kind-hearted and always wants to help people in need…although sometimes she just makes more trouble. The manga is mostly centered around Kobato learning more about the world around her(we do not know her origin) and trying to help people in order to obtain and fill up the “bottle”. She wants to fill this bottle so her wish will be granted. Ioryogi has a very hot temper. Literally. He breathes fire. Even though he does verbally abuse Kobato you can tell he still cares for her. I guess he is the tough love kind of person. There is no romance between the two, just to let you know. Kobato and Ioryogi’s relationship is one of two friends…kind of.

Ioryogi-san

The story is pretty peaceful for the most part. Kobato is a very cute character that put a smile on my face. Her adventures with Ioryogi around town were very funny. I really want to know more about Kobato’s origins because she is surely not from Earth. I also want to learn more about Ioryogi and what awful thing he did in order to deserve such a punishment: being turned into a plush doll and sent to Earth.

I could describe the art in this manga with four words: simply and utterly beautiful. CLAMP’s artwork is detailed, pretty, cute, and fun all at the same time. Kobato and all the other characters are beautifully drawn. Sometimes I would stare at just one panel for a little while because the art was just so darn good. If you are familiar with CLAMP’s other works you will spot some characters that look very similar with the characters from them.

Kobato was a very cute and silly read and I look forward to the future volumes but I do think there could had been more story to it…

I give Kobato 3.5 out of 5 Bottles

Matilda by Roald Dahl: review

Matilda by Roald Dahl, Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Genre: Childrens Fiction, Fantasy, Humour

Publisher: Puffin

Synopsis: Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Mrs. (“The”) Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.

The cover art is so cute and pretty looking 🙂 I especially love all the books. I remember reading Matilda a long time ago and I thought that I should reread it. I still love the writing and I still love Matilda.

Matilda is a fine young girl. She has a love for reading and learned how to read at the age of three and learned how to read fast and well at the age of  four. You can already tell that we are dealing with a little genius here. I could relate to Matilda very well and enjoyed reading about her. Miss Honey was a very sweet teacher and I found her very likeable and a bit tragic. I loved Matilda and Miss Honey’s friendship. Matilda’s family was horrible, didn’t believe in education, materialistic, and selfish. Ms. Trunchbull was evil. Trunchbull tormented children and manipulated everyone in the village to think that she was a good person. Whenever I read her name all I could think of was this:

By request of ichibanichi.

And this:

Matilda is about a little girl’s battle against the people who treated her badly and how she came out victorious. I loved reading about Matilda giving her opponents the comeuppance. Her attacks were actually very funny and kind of cute in some ways. Whenever she had a small victory a smile grew on my face.

The first part of the book focuses on Matilda’s home life and the second part of the book focuses on Matilda’s school life. I enjoyed reading both parts and never got bored. (minor spoiler)Although it was only in the second part that Matilda got her powers(minor spoiler) Matilda’s friend Lavender could have been more developed since she did play a part in the story but she was a pretty good character considering her lack of development.

The ending was predictable. Matilda gets her ultimate revenge with the help of Lavender and there is a happy ending. It was a great ending though. The art in the book was very cute and had it’s own little style that I enjoyed looking at.

I loved rereading Matilda and I still think that Roald Dahl is a pretty darn good children’s book writer.

I give Matilda 4 out of 5 Stars