April 21, 2013

Review of That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard



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.

add to goodreadsThat Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard
Publication Date:  April 1, 2013
Publisher: Point

Available for Purchase:
Chapter-Indigo | amazon | B&N | TBD | indiebound

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** This title was provided to us by the Publisher for an honest review.
We were in no way paid for our opinions **

Gabby NewI’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.

About the Author:



J.J. Howard is wearing headphones right now, most likely. She grew up in York, Pennsylvania, obsessed with music, movies, television, and pop culture. You can call her if you ever need to phone a friend for trivia on any of the above topics, but don’t ask about sports, because she is hopeless at those (along with math).

J.J. graduated from Dickinson College with a BA in English and Tiffin University with an MH in Humanities. She has been some of her students’ favorite English teacher for a quite a few years (she even has a mug somewhere to prove it). THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS is her first young adult novel.

J.J. would love to hear from her readers and is always ready to trade playlists. Visit at

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


  1. Ashley

    Great review! I’m so glad that you liked this book too. I completely agree with what you said about the romance though.. it was a little all over the place! But this was definitely still an adorable read. :)

  2. Chapter by Chapter

    Totally was an adorable read. Even through the romance pitchy, I still enjoyed it. =) – Gabby

  3. I had very similar thoughts on this book. Glad you enjoyed it. Great review! :)

  4. Chapter by Chapter

    Thanks Lisa! – Gabby

  5. Lau

    Thank you for the review! The book sounds very interesting.
    Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of book reviews where the romance seems to be off. It’s a shame cause I like a really nice romance in my books.
    I’ll give it a try once my tbr pile is a bit smaller :P

  6. Chapter by Chapter

    You definitely should check it out Lau! Thanks for stopping by. = ) – Gabby

  7. Great review. I am really looking forward to this book. I really must get my hands on a copy soon. :)

  8. Chapter by Chapter

    You totally do Chrystal! I’d love to hear what you think! – gabby

  9. I enjoyed this one too, but I would like to have seen Lexi make a sound decision where the romance was concerned too. Great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  10. Chapter by Chapter

    I totally agree with your Lexi comment! Thanks for stopping by Jenea. =) – Gabby

  11. Krista's Picks

    I have a feeling the circus book will be the next Dystopian. I LOVE a good circus book because they can be so unique, creepy, and atmospheric. This one sounds great. Thanks for the review!

  12. Chapter by Chapter

    I feel the same way! You’ll love this read, promise.

    – Gabby

  13. […] some other people thought it was great: YA Book CrushChapter by Chapter Nose Graze Page Turner’s […]

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