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That Time I Joined the Circus

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

A circus book?!  Yay!!  As children, my brothers and I LOVED the

A circus book?!  Yay!!  As children, my brothers and I LOVED the circus!!  Except for my extreme fear of clowns (which extends to everything in costume, not just clowns... FYI), going to the circus was something we always looked forward to.  (As long as those creepy clo...
A circus book?!  Yay!!  As children, my brothers and I LOVED the circus!!  Except for my extreme fear of clowns (which extends to everything in costume, not just clowns... FYI), going to the circus was something we always looked forward to.  (As long as those creepy clowns kept their distance!!)  Between the animals and the outright crazy performances (how do they DO some of that stuff?!) it was extreme entertainment, no matter what age.




Our main character, Lexi, the senior who would rather blend into the walls at school than stand out, has two friends... Eli and Bailey.  She is more than frustrated when Bailey and Eli start dating, turning her into the third wheel.  After a HUGE mistake and an unseen tragic event, she's left completely lost, emotionally and physically.  She finds herself in dire straits and ventures off to parts unknown in hopes of finding her mother, who left her when she was very young.  She ends up at a circus where her mother used to perform and decides to ask for a job to give her a place to stay while she searches for answers to her questions about her mother.  




The story flip-flops between past and present.  This really helps to paint a full picture of Lexi's quest to find herself, and the events that led up to where she is currently.  Each chapter also has lyrics to a song, with the band name and song title, which I really enjoyed.  A few of the bands/singers were new to me, so I actually googled the songs.  I loved that addition to the story!




That Time I Joined the Circus is sure to entertain.  It has a mixture of circus fun, romance, love and loss.  This is different than what I thought it was going to be like, but I was definitely satisfied with this novel.

posted by Lost_in_Literature on March 29, 2013

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

I¿ve really been looking forward to this read. The moment I saw

I’ve really been looking forward to this read. The moment I saw the novel’s title on Goodreads I knew that it would be a story that I would really enjoy. That Time I Joined the Circus by author J.J. Howard was a fun and quick read that I won’t soon forget. Seriously it ...
I’ve really been looking forward to this read. The moment I saw the novel’s title on Goodreads I knew that it would be a story that I would really enjoy. That Time I Joined the Circus by author J.J. Howard was a fun and quick read that I won’t soon forget. Seriously it had it all. I laughed, I cried, I got angry and best of all I got to experience what it would be like to join the circus (even though it’s a bit more of a carnival). Who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to perform in the circus? Just me? Well anyways, to the review!

               That Time I Joined the Circus is a novel that takes place right after the death of main character Lexi’s (/Xandra/Alex/Lex/*insert name here*) father. In her dad’s will he gave everything to her runaway mother and Lexi is left with nothing. She doesn’t have a place to live. Her two best friends hate her. Then Lexi learns her mother’s location: A circus. Aware that this is the only place that Lexi can go to and survive Lexi heads off on a trip into the unknown.

               By the time that Lexi reaches the circus she learns a dark truth: Her mother isn’t at the circus anymore. Lexi ends up with a job at the circus and finds herself making friends with the two trapeze performers Lina and Liska. Lexi soon finds friends and family at the circus. Then she awkwardly meets the tall, dark, handsome and ill-tempered Nick. It doesn’t take long for Lexi and Nick to realize that there’s something between the two of them and Nick begins to play a crucial role in her mission to find her mother. But is it worth it? And can Lexi really live with knowing the truth about her parents or the reason why her mother ran away in the first place?

               I really loved the way that this novel was written. It was lighthearted but when there were serious and emotional scenes I got feels, not to mention how addictive the plot was. There would be moments that I would be reading and want to put the story away and do other things but I would come to a chapter’s conclusion and have to continue reading. That Time I Joined the Circus is also a novel that I found very unique. I’ve never read a novel that takes place at a circus and I haven’t read any novels where the main character ends up becoming a fortune teller (*le gasp*). Definitely a good read for people who want a very original novel and are fans of the circus (because duh!).

               Lexi is a music snob. She also makes playlists in her head and is constantly listening to music. Because of that it shouldn’t be a surprise that every chapter opens up with a fun title (some of which had me smirking) and also a song and excerpt of lyrics. Now there were a few songs that I had heard before and had to nod my head at in recognition while there were others that I hadn’t heard before but after seeing lyrics for had to listen to get and get put onto my ITunes. This all definitely made me love the novel all the more.

               My only complaint about the novel would be the romance. Lexi ends up “romantically involved” with three characters in the novel. Maybe it’s just me, but I have a feeling that if a boy kisses you and then you start to ignore him he’s gonna be both hurt and still chasing you. Just a thought that I had. But when Lexi does finally end up with Nick and everything is going good another character shows up and just about ruins the romance that I was falling in love with! I can live with that, but every relationship that Lexi entered lacked a sense of finality and I have to say that it took away from the story for me.

               I’d recommend That Time I Joined the Circus to readers that are looking for a fun new read and for readers that want a quick read that you’ll come to enjoy a ton.

posted by chapterxchapter on May 18, 2013

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  • Posted April 1, 2013

    I really wanted to like this book. Look at that gorgeous cover!

    I really wanted to like this book. Look at that gorgeous cover! And I tried, I did. But at the end, I honestly couldn't come up with a single aspect of it that I enjoyed. Okay, well, maybe the music. But that isn't enough to save it, unfortunately.

    That Time I Joined the Circus had so much potential and was built on a fantastic idea, but it fell apart in execution. The story is centered around Lexi/Xandra/X (depends on who's talking to her), broke and homeless after her father's death and searching for her mother in Florida, where she is supposedly performing with a circus. Lexi herself ends up joining the circus, despite the fact that her mother isn't there. She meets boys, and makes friends, and everyone loves her, and was she supposed to be searching for her mother? Oh, who cares about that? Cute boys! The circus! (By the way, one major issue I have with this book is the complete lack of circus descriptions we're given. So much potential wasted!) 

    Surprisingly (or not, depending on how much YA you read), it's romance, and not Lexi's search for her mother, or even for herself, that drives this book. And that's unfortunate, because the love interests here are not the best. 

    First, we have Eli, Lexi's former best friend and partner in crime. Eli, who cheated on his girlfriend (other ex-best friend, Bailey) with Lexi. Girls, this situation almost never works out. If a guy cheats on his girlfriend to be with you, you don't want him. But that's not the only reason I don't like him. He and Lexi? No chemistry. Also, an incredibly important scene involving these two was left out of the flashbacks. Like, THE scene involving these two. I kept waiting for the past to catch up to that night, to know how exactly it would play out, but it wasn't there! I mean, how did it start? Who initiated it? What was said? We'll never know. 

    Sidebar: Despite Lexi's claims that Bailey is her friend, she shows absolutely no remorse towards Bailey for what she and Eli did. She never even apologizes. Why did the author spend so long developing their relationship through flashbacks, only to leave things unsettled between them in the end? In flashbacks, Lexi is constantly complaining about Bailey because of this or that (mainly because she's dating Eli and taking him away from Lexi), but all I can see is someone who is putting effort into a struggling friendship. 

    Back to the love interests, because there are two (three, if you count a random kiss with a guy in the circus crew, but I'm still a bit stumped as to why it was necessary to the plot). Enter Nicolae. Dark and mysterious and a whole two years older, Nicolae is the bad boy of the love triangle. My main problem with him is how easily Lexi falls for him without knowing anything about him. Their relationship is built entirely on attraction, on chemistry, on "electricity," and that is a gigantic pet peeve of mine. They don't have a single meaningful, personal conversation in which he reveals anything important about himself, and Lexi falls for him anyway. He even warns her away several times! But, of course, that only makes her like him more. Girls, this situation almost never works out. If a guy won't talk to you about himself, won't open up and share, and actually tells you he's bad news, you don't want him. 

    I had many other issues written down in my notes, but this is already turning out to be a pretty long one. I'll start winding down. The story did not reach its conclusion naturally. It's as if the author reached a certain amount of novel-length words and suddenly decided to start writing the end. Many questions are left unanswered, relationships wrapped up too quickly or not at all, and the end result was for me, completely unsatisfying. 

    Overall, That Time I Joined the Circus was a big disappointment to me. I'd been looking forward to it for a while now, pulled in by its beautiful cover and interesting synopsis, and I only wish it had been able to live up to some of its potential. 

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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