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Search tags: circus-or-carnival
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review 2020-03-26 11:52
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 2020-03-26 11:36
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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review 2020-03-24 15:53
Carnival of the Night
Carnival of the Night - Nicholas Carey

by Nicholas Carey


I love carnival stories and especially creepy carnival stories, so this was a fun read for me. In some ways it read like a YA, but was mostly well done. Christopher had a bicycle accident and is thrust into an afterlife situation created with a lot of imagination. After he tries to hit on Death's daughter, he discovers purgatory set up like one big carnival, but with some pretty unpleasant things that go on.


Christopher and Cassandra were easy characters to like, each for their own reasons. The plot had original elements that kept my interest and the whole nasty carnival atmosphere was creepy in all the right ways, except that there was rather a lot of gore considering everyone there was supposed to be dead already. Some of it started getting gratuitous.


Still, I did feel I needed to find out what would happen in the end and though the plotting wasn't brilliant, the characters carried it well enough.

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review 2020-03-16 15:32
A Spark of Justice
A Spark of Justice - J.D. Hawkins

by J.D. Hawkins


The lion tamer has been killed. Was it an accident? Or did someone set him up? It is the job of John Nieves, insurance investigator, to find out.


This book was wonderfully atmospheric. The author's bio points out that he's an ex-Carny, so he knows the difference between a circus and a carnival which is important to me with this kind of setting.


It has some great sideways humour, especially concerning the big cats. As a Mystery it provides a good collection of suspects. The Great Rollo had a lot of enemies, even among his own family.


I loved the interaction of characters and the behind the scenes glimpses of how a Puerto Rican from New York ended up as a Midwest insurance investigator, but most of all the tricks the circus people play on him had me laughing and I think I'm in love with the panther. He reminds me of my cat, Jasper.


The ending wasn't the sort of big shock, one person you didn't think of and I had my suspicions before it got there, but the story was enjoyable and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes circus stories.

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review 2019-07-07 13:09
Swim to Me by Betsy Carter
Swim to Me - Betsy Carter

It's a fresh start for Delores Walker when she boards a Greyhound bus bound for Florida. Leaving the Bronx far behind, she's headed for sunny Weeki Wachee Springs, frayed roadside attraction in danger of becoming obsolete with the opening of Walt Disney's latest creation, only miles up the road. Always more suited for a life underwater, Delores joins a group of other aquatic hopefuls in this City of Live Mermaids, where she discovers a world of sequined tails and amphibious theme shows that even Disney couldn't dream up. It's in this fantastic place of make-believe and reinvention that Delores Walker becomes Delores Taurus, Florida's most unlikely celebrity. Bringing together an eccentric assortment of outcasts, poseurs, and underdogs, this wise and poignant novel conjures up a time in America when anything was possible, especially in the Sunshine State. A story of family, chasing dreams and finding your way, Swim To Me will have you believing the impossible—even in mermaids from the Bronx.







Bronx native Delores Walker first experiences Florida's Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaid Show roadside attraction while on a family road trip when she's just fourteen. By the age of sixteen, she's invited to join the show herself. It's the 1970s, her father has recently walked out on the family, and young Delores eagerly accepts the position but it doesn't take long for her the grittier side of this whole new world she's now a member of. Still a teenager, Delores -- now going by the stage name Delores Taurus --- is already having to deal with lewd men licking the glass at her shows.


Though the cast of ladies brings together a variety of backgrounds, a kind of sisterhood naturally forms, strengthened by the Womens' Lib movement of the era. Behind them all is Thelma, who seems rough on the swimmers but the story later reveals she does truly care about them and has their backs, even if her concern comes out a little on the gruff side. Though she's sometimes left in a tough position when it comes to the business side of things, Thelma does her best to battle sexism against her mermaids. There's also some time spent on Delores's relationship with her father, his anger issues, and Delores's struggle with her mother sometimes being petty and manipulative.


The whole plot is wrapped around a behind the scenes look at a mermaid show, making it a strong pick for summertime reading. Plot moves a little slow at times, but the bonds between the ladies keeps the pace enjoyable even when the action might lag here and there. As far as individual character development, a number of them start out pretty good  but many of the characters are not quite fleshed out enough IMO. 


In the end, the main theme looks at the idea of everyone having their little secrets and the common thread of everyone having the temptation to start fresh from time to time, that sometimes meaning a new approach to their identity. You might not be able to change where you originally came from, but each day is an opportunity to move one step closer to who you want to be. Story's end resolution is a little weak, but I still had a good time on the ride. 




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