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Search tags: circus-carny-amusement-park
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review 2018-10-03 15:44
Dark Ride
Dark Ride - P.G. Kassel

by P.G. Kassel

 

The story follows a criminal, Marty Wedlow, as he tries to get money to skip town before some thugs catch up with him. He's known by the local police and gets pulled in when he's the main suspect in a robbery, but the witness can't positively ID him so the police have no choice but to set him free. While he's in the cop shop, a spooky man is brought in for a fortune telling charge and he predicts that Marty's luck is about to run out.

 

Marty dismisses this incident and sets about more robberies to get the money he needs. Eventually after the usual small shops provide too little cash for his trouble, he hits on the idea of trying the local amusement park where money flows prolifically.

 

The story is predictable, but the writing is good and the characters were a bit of fun. Nothing spectacular, but an easy short read with he fear of dark places and a carnival atmosphere to keep the reader amused.

 

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review 2017-11-22 09:51
Dark Carnival
Dark Carnival - Nancy K. Duplechain

by Nancy K. Duplechain

 

Fantasy meets voodoo in New Orleans. Leigh Benoit comes from a family of paladins, people with special abilities who heal the sick and keep dark forces at bay. She is sent to New Orleans for training as a Traiteur, a healer, but she is also caught up in a quest to find a cursed antique mask as time for Mardi Grau draws near.

 

I found this an interesting alternative Fantasy. The paladins have individual 'gifts' in a way that reminded me of X-men, though more subtle. Leigh meets some of her own kind who are friendly and some who are not so friendly, but they have a common quest to stop dark forces. Apart from being followed by a "cute guy" (oh gee, where do you suppose THAT will go?) the story has a lot of original elements that make it a fascinating read.

 

Leigh is likable and no wiser than her nemesis about why she was sent for training when adequate training for what she is meant to do was available at home. There is some other purpose for why she needed to come to New Orleans, which we learn eventually.

 

For the most part, this book really held my attention. There were a couple of places where I thought Leigh and her companions were just a little too lucky in a battle or some really horrific imagery fizzled into nothing, but most of it moved the story along and kept me interested in Leigh's eventual fate.

 

This is one of those gems I sometimes find in the free slush pile, a book I've really enjoyed reading. There is a series, but the book stands alone very well. Some fascinating ideas and alternative ways of using Biblical entities as characters.

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text 2017-09-16 11:02
Finished Amateur Sleuth Square: I've read 100%.
A Spark of Justice - J.D. Hawkins

My only re-read this year and my previous review stands.

 

This is like a guilt-free trip to the circus and the big cats are supporting characters and add some of the humor. The circus people messing with the investigator makes it fun, though there are some tense moments.

 

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text 2017-09-10 11:01
Amateur Sleuth Square
A Spark of Justice - J.D. Hawkins

This is my only re-read this year.

 

 i didn't read it for Bingo, but did read it last March. My review is here: http://loram.booklikes.com/post/1541740/a-spark-of-justice

 

It's a fun book and I've wanted to read it again, so when I saw amateur sleuth as one of the categories I thought of it right away.

 

The protagonist is an insurance investigator who is just supposed to establish whether the death of a lion tamer was an unfortunate accident or foul play, but the circus people start messing with him and a few things happen that look like someone is out to kill him, so he gets in a lot deeper than his job should entail.

 

I enjoyed the focus on the big cats. While I don't condone keeping them the way circuses historically have done, this is an opportunity to step into a fantasy circus world where the cats are better cared for. I've got a soft spot for the panther, though the lion adds the most humour.

 

Anyway, looking forward to starting this one again later today.

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text 2017-03-18 10:21
Why I Love Circus Books
Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus - James Otis
A Spark of Justice - J.D. Hawkins
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
Joyland - Stephen King
The Life of P.T. Barnum, by Himself. Author's Ed - Phineas Barnum
Under the Big Top: A Season with the Circus - Bruce Feiler
The Advance Man: A Journey Into the World of the Circus - Jamie MacVicar
Mr. Stubbs's Brother: A Sequel to Toby Tyler (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press) - James Otis

Every child is enchanted by the idea of the circus at some point in their young life. For me, this began with the story of Toby Tyler, by James Otis, alternately titled Ten Weeks with a Circus. The story was also made into a movie called Toby Tyler as well as a radio dramatisation.

 

As I became an adult, I learned that the way animals were treated in the real life circus could be brutal at times and the big cats, whom I loved most, spent their lives in cages the size of a train car. Circuses are actually not legally allowed to keep animals in the UK. So, for me, the magic of the circus is relegated to fantasy; to the world of books.

 

While fiction satisfies my fascination with life behind the scenes of the circus, some non-fiction books are also very interesting, relating what this life was really like in the days when there was no regulation to speak of to keep the activities of circus folk completely legal. While circus is primarily a performance profession, there was a time when 'hooch tents' and violations of prohibition played a significant role on the seedy side of traveling entertainment.

 

Some stories relate this side of circus life as openly as the non-fiction books, like Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. The author did her research well and many incidents, including a very amusing situation involving an elephant stealing lemonade, came from real anecdotes from circus people. There are some sad incidents concerning animals in the annals of real circus life as well, but these I try to avoid.

 

Circus books are my fantasy circus, where animals are never mistreated and it's all about the magic of entertainment. I am, however, fussy about authors doing their research properly. I have an aunt who traveled with the carnival in her youth and she taught me the differences between the circus and the carnival. A fast way to get me to abandon a book is to write in a carnival setting and mention a Big Top or to refer to circus people as Carnies.

 

These worlds have a few things in common, but distinct differences. I loved how Stephen King got around all that in Joyland by setting the story in an amusement park owned by someone who had worked for both the circus and the carnival sometime in his past.

 

I recently found another book by James Otis on Amazon, Mr. Stubb's Brother, A Sequel to Toby Tyler. It was even free! Naturally this is high on my tbr, but I want to re-read Toby Tyler again first. These circus stories bring out my inner child and for just a little while, allow me to enter a world where it's all about the magic.

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