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Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi…
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Owl and the Japanese Circus (2015)

by Kristi Charish

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Adventures of Owl (1)

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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Owl, ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief gets an offer she can’t refuse from Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon. If she retrieves and artifact stolen thousands of years ago will he get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. She agrees to the offer, not only because of her vampire problem but because dragons like to eat thieves.

This is the first book (of many I hope) about Owl and a very good first book. I liked Owl from the beginning. She’s a smart mouth thief with a knack for finding trouble and a faithful companion by her side; Captain a vampire hating cat. Owl has been laying low for months now hiding from vampires after a deal gone sour. So an offer from a dragon to get rid of her problem is perfect even though she usually tries to stay the hell away from supernaturals.

Beside Owl and the Captain, we also get to meet Nadya, her best friend, Rynn, bartender and also the guy she’s been shunning since he kissed her. Oricho and Lady Siyu that works for Mr. Kurosawa and are the ones that Owl has to report to.But the guy I liked the most is actually the one that we hardly get to met, Carpe, Owls online gaming partner. Yeah, Owl likes to play an online game called World Quest when she’s not out stealing…eh, I mean retrieving artifacts. Of course, old enemies show up, like Alexander a vampires that really don’t like her.

Of course finding the artifact isn’t a piece of cake and soon Owl, Nadya, and Rynn are in deep trouble and they have to fight vampires, Nagas and other creatures along the way.

I liked the book for its adventure, its action, and its humor. It was a fun and a pleasant read and I truly recommend this book to anyone that likes adventure books with a strong female character. Owl is great, she’s not perfect. For instance, she has a tendency to talk when she should keep her mouth shut. I even liked the relationship between Owl and Ryan and I’m extremely picky when it comes to romance.

Now I'm just looking forward to the next book!

I received this copy from the publisher through Netgalley in return for an honest review! ( )
  MaraBlaise | Apr 14, 2017 |
I am a little disappointed in this book. I wanted to like it more than I did because I really liked some of the ideas in the book, but overall what turned me off the most was the main character - Owl just was not a very likeable person. She was often rude when she didn't have to be, and often treated those around her in irrational and unfair ways. I felt like the author was trying to make her come off as a strong and sassy badass, but really she just came off like an idiot and not very smart, being aggressively rude when she had no real reason to be. She often treated those helping her (and often saving her life), really poorly. She would brush off her behaviour by saying she wasn't good with people, but her behaviour really just came off as selfish, rude and immature. That really distracted from the story because I found myself getting annoyed with her and how she was constantly treating everyone around her.

I did like the Nagas and the Dragon, but her personality was too unlikeable for me to be able to overlook the fact that she was a thief and didn't seem to have any qualms about taking whatever she wanted. She may have been a victim as a grad student, but I never felt any real sympathy for her, and in fact, often the opposite. Not sure I'll read the next in the series. Sometimes first books are uneven and many characters become more interesting as the writer gets more comfortable with them, so I might try it, but unlike other series, I won't be rushing out to buy it right away. ( )
  LongDogMom | Nov 12, 2016 |
Alix, (un)popularly known as Owl, used to be an archaeology student. After getting kicked out of her PhD programme, she turned antiquities thief. It would have been a lucrative gig, had it not brought her into contact with the wrong kinds of supernatural (though as far as Owl’s concerned, any kind is the wrong kind); now, with vampires chasing her ever further from her home and wealth, she’s reduced to living out of a Winnebago, running on cheap junk food and wifi for her gaming addiction. Her luck looks set to change when the proprietor of the Japanese Circus casino in Las Vegas offers her a job retrieving an artifact for him, and agrees to solve her vampire problem for her. Of course, the proprietor is a red dragon, and if she lets him down, vampires might be the least of her problems…

The main thing that drew me to this book is the ‘Indiana Jane’ angle. Books that marry the trappings of urban fantasy with the detective novel are a dime a dozen, but noir and pulp fiction are like two sides of the same coin, and it’s refreshing to see an urban fantasy author tackle the genre from a different angle. On the whole, the novel does a good job of balancing the adventures at archaeological sites with the city settings necessary to provide the urban flavour; the scenes at the Japanese Circus, however, ran a little long.

Despite her unusual calling, Owl is the sort of generic plucky twenty-something who are also a dime a dozen in these types of novels, more a bundle of tics and snark than a character with any depth. And man, did some of those tics get repetitive. If she popped one more can of Corona, I’d have wanted to drown her in it. In a genre where many of these characters are profoundly annoying, however, she is blandly inoffensive and sometimes quite humorous.

One of the things about Owl which was kind of presented as a defining quality at the beginning of the book, but got short shrift as the story progressed, was her supposed gaming habit. It was made to sound like a full-blown addiction, and her primary social substitute, and I thought that was a really interesting quality to give to a main character because it’s just such a normal, relatable thing for people in urban fantasy’s target audience, or at least a certain subset of it. As someone who spent part of her twenties on a 100 hour/week Guild Wars habit, and nearly did the same with World of Warcraft, I would have enjoyed seeing how Owl balanced that side of her life and how her gaming world and her supernatural world could have leaked into each other, but there’s only a bit of that. Mostly it just seems to fit too conveniently around her other stuff going on. Also, the game she plays sounds like a theme park MMO written about by someone who never played one, which to a reader very familiar with the genre feels a bit cringe-inducing, like being a teenager and watching someone over thirty trying to talk your language. I don’t know if the author has played MMOs, and maybe she has, but if so it doesn’t come across the way that, say, Felicia Day’s familiarity with them infuses her work on The Guild.

The supporting cast are a bit more colourful than Owl herself. I was doubtful about the obligatory love interest when he was first introduced, but I actually ended up quite liking both him, and them together. It’s neither insta-love nor an irritatingly slow burn, they feel like two people who are awkward about relationships but do genuinely like each other. There’s good banter here, but also warmth. He’s not an overly cocky alpha male; he treats Owl as competent, and when he gets exasperated with her, it’s understandable -- she is pretty exasperating. There’s a little bit too much one-sided rescuing going on, and I’d appreciate it if in the second book she gets a few opportunities to pull his ass out of the fire, but I wouldn’t say that in any of them she is damselled. Most importantly, the romance doesn’t overshadow the rest of the book, and for the recluse she appears to be at the beginning of the novel, her friendships get a fair bit of page count -- probably more so than many UF protagonists who theoretically have social lives. I like that her best friend is allowed to get annoyed with her over the imbalance of give and take in their relationship, but still has her back.

I also liked that the book goes beyond the usual roll call of supernaturals, and included some things that were both interesting and genuinely unusual. I mean, there’s a dragon, obviously, and if you can include dragons in your urban fantasy story without it feeling hokey then you have my thumbs-up, but even more flavourful were Oricho, and the naga, and the creepy corpse-eating nymphs. (Speaking of which, I have played enough video games that I was yelling ‘NAGA!’ when it was taking Owl too long to catch on. Well, I was thinking it very loudly, anyway. Come on woman, you’re supposed to be a game addict too.)

One thing that really didn’t work for me was her feline sidekick. I don’t like to hate on a cat. I’m a cat person. I’m actively trying to turn into the crazy cat lady over here, but people won’t let me. However, this was not a cat in any way recognisable to me. It couldn’t have been less catlike if it ran around barking. I wouldn’t have minded if the cat was obviously meant to be a bit Other, if it was a talking cat or a magical cat familiar or something, but other than being toxic to vampires it’s presented as really just a cat. And she lugs it around everywhere in a carrier like it’s a handbag, with no apparent difficulty, which kept taking me out of the story. Have you ever tried going places with a cat? The noises range from pitiful to making people think you’re killing it because surely nothing could generate those sounds unless it was being murdered. This is not conducive to swanning around an airport or a night club with one like Owl does. Apparently the author based it on her own cat. I’m… I’m not sure that what she has is a cat.

Despite the fact that it’s forced me to break some kind of record for how many times I can fit the word ‘cat’ into one paragraph, I enjoyed the book’s pluses more than I disliked its minuses, and I’m pleased to hear that the second volume in the series is already available. A lot of urban fantasy series start off a bit rough, and this is a better start than that enjoyed by many I’ve come to love, so fingers crossed that Owl and her story will grow from here.

Review from Bookette.net ( )
  Snumpus | Aug 10, 2016 |
Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

I liked it. A lot.

Owl is a retriever of old artifacts or if you would like, a thief of cultural heritage. While this is a not-so-save line of business at the best of times Owl's work gets complicated by supernatural things like vampires, nagas, ghosts and now she's working for a dragon to retrieve some dangerous scroll.

Owl was a very likable character, it has been a while since I read one of those. Although she has symptoms of being the special snowflake we've all come to hate and despite her self proclaimed (and okay, I'll have to agree with her) less than desirable social skills she was a lot of fun to read. Not in the least because she's the reason why the side characters, who are equally fun and mysterious, are together in the first place. My personal favorite: Captain the cat, who's able to smell vampires and obviously runs the whole operation...

When Owl is hunting scrolls and other artifacts she's playing an online game together with another very interesting character, Carpe. Exactly who he is isn't clear at this point but I read that he will properly introduced (as a real character) in the next book. Something I'm already looking forward to.

Which brings me to the story, which was entertaining, but not as good as the characters. There were perhaps a bit too many people hunting Owl down for too many reasons, and the love subplot I could have done without (as usual). However, I was very pleasantly surprised by this novel and will certainly read the sequel. Someday, when I have the time.

Owl and the Japanese Circus is the first of The Adventures of Owl. The second book, Owl and the City of Angels has recently been published.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! ( )
  Floratina | May 26, 2016 |
***Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review*** ( )
  Chrystina.Williams | Dec 4, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kristi Charishprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gambino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Polanco, LewelinDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my spousal unit, Steve.

Hon, we play a lot of video games.
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