Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ARC Review: Owl & the Japanese Circus

Owl and the Japanese Circus
by Kristi Charish (The Adventures of Owl #1)
Published: January 13th 2015 by Simon & Schuster

Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.

Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.


Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.
*An ARC was provided by Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review.*

If I had to sum up Owl and the Japanese Circus in one word, that word would be fun. Just reading the synopsis was all I needed to know that this was a book for me: a modern day 'Indiana Jane', called Owl, who's a thief and archeology buff, navigating a supernatural world - in spite of herself.  A world which includes insanely unique creatures like Dragons, Nagas, Incubus, Vampires (legit vampires - not the romanticized sparkly variety), Nymphs and Kami...to name a few.  Oh, and did I mention Owl has the best sidekick ever: a truly amazing Egyptian Mau cat, that goes by the name of Captain...and whose personality totally lives up to his name.  Yeah. This book had my name written all over it.

I went into Owl and the Japanese Circus pretty pumped, and for once, my high hopes didn't end up falling flat. Owl's adventures start off in Vegas, and she consequently journeys across the globe, from Japan to Bali and back to Vegas again as she hunts down an ancient stolen artifact, for one of the most fearsome dragons I've ever come across!   I truly enjoyed the mix of globe-trotting adventure, mystery and action blended into this supernatural world. Plot-wise, the story hits the ground running as Owl navigates through one escapade after another.  Some bits resolved themselves a bit too conveniently for my taste but honestly, I had no problem suspending my disbelief and just going along with the ride - and it is one hell of a ride from start to finish.

As a character, Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl was a breath of fresh air to me. Why? Because she was equal parts awesome and flawed, and to me that made her all the more real.  Owl is a smart mouth. She dives into danger head first and asks questions later.  She's got an attitude and she knows how to use it - usually at the worst possible moments.  I could see her penchant for trouble rubbing some readers the wrong way, but I found it refreshing to read about a heroine who wasn't perfect, flawless or admirable to a fault. Don't get me wrong: Owl is also brave, caring and smart, but her qualities are perfectly balanced with her flaws in a way that makes her incredibly human; especially when mixed in with the variety of supernatural beings found in Owl and the Japanese Circus. I was also pleased that Owl seemed to learn from her mistakes as she went along.  She never truly loses her inclination for diving head-first into trouble though, but hey, where's the fun in that?

Owl's reckless nature is tempered by her more level-headed companions, notably her best friend Nadya and Rynn, an attractive mercenary slash bartender.  Both of them were compelling and entertaining in their own right and I found them to perfectly complement Owl. Let's face it, Owl needed all the help she could get from these two on more than one occasion.  Their friendship wasn't without its bumps along the way but they were a solid trio and I enjoyed them all immensely.  However they all took a backseat to Captain, Owl's feline companion who easily steals the show.  Captain has a strong personality all his own and he isn't afraid to use it.  He's clever, cunning and as stubborn as his human which made me (of course) love him all the more for it.  It's clear that author Kristi Charish is a cat-lover herself, as she develops Captain's personality perfectly, as well as his relationship with Owl, as the story moves forward.

Being the first book in a planned series, the story does take a bit to settle into it's stride, which I find is mostly always the case when entering a new book series.  Nonetheless, Owl and the Japanese Circus  does a good job of setting the stage for our characters and the world they navigate.  I'm hoping the sequel will delve deeper into the exploration and mythology of it all but regardless, I'm already looking forward to following Owl as she gets into more trouble the next time around.  Side note: Owl also has a penchant for RPG gaming, caffeine and the occasional Corona. I can't imagine readers having a hard time relating to her in the least!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

*Psst: there's still a little time to enter my giveaway for a chance to win your very own copy of Owl and the Japanese Circus*

18 comments:

  1. I keep seeing this book everywhere! It seems like the start of a great new UF series (: And Owl's friends and her cat sound fabulous

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    1. It *has* been everywhere lately hasn't it?! Definitely a promissing new UF series in my books, especially with solid friendships and one memorable feline ;)

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  2. I've seen this one around a lot, I'm so glad to hear it's good!

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    1. It really is Carrie! Thanks for stopping by :)

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  3. I had never heard of this book, but suddenly in the last day or so it keeps showing up. Sounds like a fun book with a great main character!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Yeah it came out January 13th so it was popping up all over the place :) I really had fun with it and so far the reviews have been quite positive! Thanks for stopping by Nicole^^

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  4. This was a fun book, the other day I was very excited to hear about a sequel already set to come out next year. The author is so nice and has a great sense of humor too, not surprised this book was such an entertaining ride. Though I wonder how Owl still has friends after needing them to bail her out so many times due to her bullheadedness :P

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. I was really excited to here that the sequel is already in the works too (and set to come out sooner than I would have thought!), The author is a sweetheart, you're right! hahahaha yeah Owl is as stubburn as they come, she's lucky her friends are so awesome XD

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  5. I love it when high expectations are actually met :) I love fun stories, and I think I'd really enjoy Owl and the Japanese Circus, Micheline. Great review :)

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. ME TOO LEXXIE!! Especially since I hadn't been having the best luck with ARCs lately >.< I think you'd love this series too, thanks for stopping by love :)

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  6. Owl is such a cute nickname! I'm definitely curious about this one now that I've read your description of it. Archeology is sort of like palaeontology after all (a little bit...). But that cat! I am practically guaranteed to love any book that features an animal companion so prominently :) Especially when it seems like the author knows the animal's personality well!

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    1. I know, right?! I was loving the archeology but yeah, the cat definitely stole the show for me :D I adore animal companions too (though feline varieties get bonus points) and that, coupled with the adventure made this one a blast to read!

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  7. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, Micheline! I have it on my Kindle and hope to get to it soon, especially since I've been seeing such great reviews for it. Owl sounds exactly like my kind of heroine! :D

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    1. Thanks Lee :D I really do hope you can get to it soon - and that you have as much fun with it as I did! Owl was a breath of fresh air!

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  8. Yey, of course you already know that I heartily agree with you ;-). You put it so perfectly though: Owl is such a refreshing heroine :D

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    1. LOL yup, great minds Anya ;) And she really was!

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  9. Definitely a good thing she learned from her mistakes. Looks like I liked it as much as you did!

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    1. Agreed^^ And YAY, so happy to hear that! :D

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