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Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: That Time I Joined the Circus

Author: J. J. Howard
Release Date: April 1, 2013
Publisher: Point
Pages: 259
Source: NetGalley
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Special thanks to Scholastic for providing me an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: 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, last heartaches, and the importance of an excellent playlist.
My Favorite Lines:
"Here we go again.  Usually, I can talk like a perfectly normal person.  I mean sometimes I use a few too many big words, but that's just because I have more books than friends.  But I can use, you know, complete sentences.  Unless there's a boy involved."

"I had other confusing and awkward fish to fry."
Why I Loved It:  One word people.  Circus.  CIRCUS!  I love the circus.  Actually, I should rephrase that.  I love books about the circus.  Actual circuses are really a little smelly and there are lots of people and I get all shaky.  Thankfully I can experience the circus in a book and it's all good.

So anyways, this book.  The book of awesomeness.  Here is the run-down.  Lexi has this one night of her life that changes everything, and it doesn't really seem like for the good.  She manages to fool around with her best friend *who has a girlfriend* on the same night that her dad dies.  In addition, she is told that her mother has been given the money her dad had left, but she hasn't seen her mom in years. That last she has knowledge of her mother was that she was traveling with a circus.  So Lexi, with only desperation left, leaves to track down said circus.  Well mom is no where to be found, but Lexi has no money and no where to go and so is taken into the crew of the circus for the rest of the season.  Eventually she is able to contribute as a fortune teller where the audience meets the oh-so-gorgeous Nick.  Eventually she finds a home in this circus that she had never experienced in her previous loner-lifestyle.  And then the best friend Eli shows back up.  Which puts a kink in poor Lexi's world.  And that's all you will get from me on the summary of the book.

Ok so not only is the book incredible and revolving around a traveling circus, Lexi is also a bit of a music snob in the best possible sense.  I loved Lexi's taste in music.  It was absolutely perfect.  The author told me that she used Lexi's dad in the story to weave in the obscure 80's and 90's music she loves.  And it worked.  Every chapter starts with the lyric to some song.  I am seriously considering making a "The Time I Joined the Circus" playlist for my iPod.  Lexi was my girl.  She was awkward and funny and she understood the specifics of making a great playlist.  In addition, she also seriously enjoyed books, and she wasn't one of those characters that made ridiculous choices that leave the reader all like "WHAT??"  I appreciate that.

Seriously the plot was refreshingly different with realistic and relatable characters.  Lexi had such a natural and comfortable voice that didn't make me feel forced to follow along.  I wanted to follow her wherever she decided to go especially when the gorgeous Nick was involved.  I should say here that the book has three gorgeous men.  THREE!  That's a definite plus.

In the end, I had mushy gushy happy book feelings, spent a massive amount of time playing music, and reread Wandering Heights by Jane Austen *for Lexi was an Austen fan* and dreamed about traveling with the circus.  I need to stop now.  I could gush about this book endlessly.

Who Should Read It: I would seriously recommend this book to any fan of contemporary.  People who loved Water for Elephants should definitely pick it up.  And if you are like me and adore when authors incorporate music into their books, you HAVE to read it.  Everyone pay attention to the name J. J. Howards because many more great things will be coming out of her writer's pen.


  1. I love when authors include music in the stories :) it's one of my favorite things. It sounds like a great book, I like contemporary book.
    Excellent review, I'll add it to my TBR list

    1. If you love the music part, then you will love it!
      Thank you!

  2. Fabulous review. I've had this book on my TBR for a while but this is the first actual review I've read and I'm glad to hear that it doesn't disappoint. This one sounds like my kind of read. I love authors who incorporate music into their books and like you I love reading about the circus. I will definitely be picking this one up very soon!

    1. Thank you! And I will definitely be keeping my eye out for your review.


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