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The Adventures of Owl #1

Owl and the Japanese Circus

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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.

416 pages, Paperback

First published January 13, 2015

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About the author

Kristi Charish

12 books311 followers
Kristi is the author of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (Simon and Schuster Canada/Pocket Books), an urban fantasy about a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world, and THE VOODOO KILLINGS (Random House Canada), an urban fantasy/mystery about a voodoo practitioner living in Seattle with the ghost of a deceased grunge rocker.

She writes what she loves; adventure heavy stories featuring strong, savvy female protagonists, pop culture, and the occasional RPG fantasy game thrown in the mix. She’s also a co-host for the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing Podcast.

Before becoming an author Kristi was a research scientist. She holds a BSc and MSc from Simon Fraser University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and a PhD in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. Her specialties are genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology, all of which she draws upon in her writing. She is represented by Carolyn Forde at Westwood Creative Artists.

FB: http://www.facebook.com/KristiCharish...
AISFP Podcast: http://www.adventuresinscifipublishin...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 395 reviews
Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,261 reviews8,753 followers
September 8, 2017
*checking stupidity detector* Hmm . . . Doesn't seem to be broken . . . *rechecks* . . . NOPE. Def not broken. Must just be A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION.

R u ready to hug it out, Sarah?


PS - I stole your "attempting to give a damn" gif. FYI. MUAH.

Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

A lot of you know that Urban Fantasy is my go-to genre--I can go (and have) for a straight six months of reading it and nothing else.

This can be a problem, b/c compared to others, UF is kind of a small genre, and an even bigger problem is that a LOT of the big series have been concluding over the last few years, and while many of those authors are starting new series (eventually), some of the new players often leave something to be desired.

I cannot tell you how many times a new series has caught my eye in the last eighteen(ish) months, only to leave me feeling MEH on a good day, and downright frustrated or misled on a bad day.

Enter OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS by Kristi Charish:

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.

Let's take a minute to dissect this claim.

1. I have no idea who Linda (Laurell K.?) Hamilton is, but Kim Harrison and Jim Butcher . . . those are mighty big shoes to fill.
2. The original Indiana Jones movies are (IMO) some of the best movies ever made.

Publicists have been doing this sort of thing a lot lately. I've been lured into reading books by claims of "perfect for fans of insert-Big-Deal-author-here" or "dark debut reminiscent of random-Genre-Defying/Ground-Breaking-novel" and, sadly, these carrots have always left me feeling like a put-upon donkey.

I don't like feeling like a jackass.

So when I saw the above comparison . . . I admit it . . . there were a few squints, and perhaps a snort of disbelief (or three).

BUT "Indiana Jane" was too fantastic a possibility for me to bypass.

Which is a good thing, b/c for the first time ever, a book has actually lived up to its hype.

Owl is a . . . procurer of rare things . . . old things . . . artifacts, if you will.

She got into this line of work after being laughably expelled from her doctoral studies when she discovered things that ought not be discovered, and true to her tenacious nature, refused to bury said discovery.

This made her understandably bitter.

Now most "normal" people in this situation would probably find a teaching position at some third-rate institution. After all, one must complete a Masters degree before starting work towards a PhD . . . but not Owl.

What she didn't realize at the time was that frequently the "people" with the means and inclination to hire her for her services are the same "people" who destroyed her dreams of becoming a legitimate archaeologist, and after one such job goes south, Owl finds herself living on the run, in a Winnebago, with her cat.

As it turns out, an angry vampire is just as tenacious as Owl herself.

SO. No working for supernaturals. Ever.

Unless a dragon sends his goons to track you down to the parking lot of an abandoned service station, toss you unceremoniously into a helicopter, and deliver you to his Las Vegas doorstep for a face-to-face chat . . . then, you know . . . you do as you're told. B/c DRAGON.

If you missed my Interview with Kristi Charish , my first question was "is Owl really 100% human?" b/c humans don't tend to hold up well in the supernatural world. BUT through a combination of cleverness, tech savvy, and friends (supernatural and otherwise), Owl does quite well for herself.

I have two concerns. The first is (like the Special Snowflake MC) the Human-among-Creatures character has a list of stereotypes they can easily fall into, the foremost being serendipitously-rescued-by-bigger-stronger-b/c-NOT-human-friends. However, this type of character is typically relegated to sidekick status, and Charish is determined that Owl stand on her own two feet.

The second is habitual use of an extremely offensive term. Owl isn't great with people. She also has trust issues, and the resulting incredibly small circle of friends. When one of these friends reveals previously unknown (and admittedly important) information about himself, Owl is both shocked and hurt, so she lashes out, and says something . . . so far over the line that I had a flashback to adolescence of my mother saying, "Don't speak in anger, b/c once you say something to someone you love, it can never be unsaid."

Stuff happens, and they reconcile, but afterwards that same ugly word is used as a sort of joke. Friend calls Owl something not nice in return, but it's the equivalent of a friend calling you a hot mess, and you calling them a hideous skank or a stupid cow in return. Over and over again. Maybe this is just one of my trigger words , and it won't bother anyone else. Regardless, to me, the "joke" only served as a reminder of the terrible thing Owl said to Friend that can never be unsaid.

BUT of those two concerns, one will hopefully not be an issue, and the other . . . maybe part of Owl's new gig will include a required class on workplace sensitivity that will bleed into other areas of her life. *crosses fingers*

Overall, OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS is the surprisingly good first installment of an Urban Fantasy series that has made my inner cynic shut her mouth about publicity plugs in book blurbs. Charish is the cool new kid you don't want to miss, and Owl just might be the human to make the creatures sit up and pay attention. Highly recommended.

Jessica Signature
Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,604 reviews5,988 followers
January 11, 2015
I just can't get into this book. Owl is a former archaeology student who was disgraced and wiped her past clean. She takes up stealing artifacts for whomever has the most money. She crosses some vampires and ends up on a vamp hit list.
She is offered protection from the vamps by a Dragon but he has an agenda of his own.

It sounds good, but I'm just done with it. Owl is just a bland character. The most exciting thing I've read about her is she has a cat that can sense vampires.

I hate dnf'ing books..but too many books are looking at me to spend the time on one that isn't getting it for me.

I'm giving it 2 stars because it wasn't horrible..just wasn't for me at this time.

I received an arc copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
March 21, 2016

DNF at 15%. Because there is only so much complete, total, utter stupidity I can take.

My collection of Stupidly Stupid Pieces of Crap (SSPoC™) is on the rise! Go me! I feel so special right now, and so lucky to have come across such an amazing gem! What a wonderfully crafted, beautifully told story! I blissfully enjoyed every single minute I wasted spent DNFing reading it. This, ladies and gentleman, is the Marvelous Magic of Books (MMB™). You know, when you get so aggravated by lost in the tale you are reading that you want to smash your Kindle against the nearest wall the outside world disappears, and all of your troubles with it? Peace, serenity, fulfillment and stuff. It really is a thing of beauty.

Get it? Good. It looks like there might be hope for you yet, my Little Barnacles. Wow. Who would have thought?!

Okay. Time to cut the Stupid Crap and get right to the Stupid Point. What is so Stupidly Stupid about this particular PoC™? The delightfully entertaining and superiorly witty heroine! I love her. What an amazing mc she is. But just how amazing is she, you ask? Well, our dear girl Owl has so many stellar qualities I'm not sure where to begin, but I will try and make a short list for you (because I am really nice and thoughtful and stuff). Let's see…stupid lovely Owl is (check all that apply):

Stupidly Named.
But you probably didn't need me to point that out.

Stupidly Full of Herself.
Yeah, she's pretty awesome. It's just that she's the only one who knows it. Okay, that's not really fair. To be honest, our Silly Girl in residence can be pretty talented: she can read and write ten languages, including Japanese, fluently. Two of them are even dead. Bloody hell, the girl's a genius. More or less. I mean, she's super fluent in TEN freaking languages, but she just can’t speak or understand a word of any of them. And that makes perfect sense. Told you the girl was a genius. Watch out, Stephen Hawking, Owl is out to get you!

Stupidly Immature.
Silly Owl is so refreshingly juvenile that reading her Silly Adventures make me feel like I'm 12 again. It's absolutely delightful.

Stupidly Annoying.
But that might just be me. I am, after all, quite allergic to idiotic nitwits.

Stupidly Stupid.
But, who knows, it may be nothing but a cunning act on her part. Yeah, that's probably it. Silly Owl must be an Undercover Airhead (UA™). I mean, no one can really be that stupid, right?

Stupidly Filthy Rich.
We kind of got that she had truck loads of money the first 200 times you mentioned it, Kristi Charish. But hey, you can never be too careful. Your readers are probably as superiorly intelligent as Ms Einstein Owl here, so it's better to play it safe and rehash a little bit to make sure they get your point. That brand dropping thing is quite the genius idea, by the way: by naming Chanel, Versace, Vuitton and Ralph Lauren about 225659 times, I think there is a slight possibility that your brain-dead readers might understand that Silly Owl has tons of doe. And that she might be Stupidly Superficial. Which takes us right to ↓↓

Stupidly Superficial.
Damn, that girl is so good she makes Kim Kardashian look like a total amateur. Owl, you are my hero. Forget Lady, forget Kate Daniels, I want to be you when I grow up. Oh yeah, that would definitely be a dream come true.

By the way, do you know what else makes Owl super stupid special? She manages to get the hots for a blond, Caucasian (and obviously good-looking) guy in Tokyo. Because, come on, who would fall for a yucky, brown-haired (and obviously ugly as hell) Asian guy?! In Tokyo, of all places?! Ew. Ew. Ew. Okay, it seems that I'm being unusually unfair again (must be some weird virus I caught). Apparently, you see a lot of blonds in Japan, Japanese and Caucasian. Oops, my bad, I stand dutifully corrected. I guess this means Dear Owl is not so stupid special after all. I guess it just means she has crappy taste in men.

Oh, and guess what else? Owl is pretty stupid, too. Yes, absolutely. I kid you not.

And the rest of the characters of this book? They are so paper-thin and decaffeinated that they make the Kings and Queens of Decaf (aka the Chicagoland Vampires) look like potential Nobel Prize recipients.

And the story? Well, let me think for a second there…I know it was pretty fascinating, and that there was something crucially important I wanted to say about it, but I can't quite recall what it was right now…Oh wait, I know!

And the moral of this non-review is: this was such a pathetic SSPoC™ that it made me want to pick up The Blade Itself again. Yes, it's that bad. But hey, everyone else seems to think this book is pretty awesome. Which probably means everyone I read the book wrong. Again. Well, either that or their my Stupidity Detector is broken. Again.
Profile Image for carol..
1,566 reviews8,214 followers
December 14, 2014

The problem with cats as side-kicks:
“He feinted back and pulled on the leash in an attempt to break my hold and get back to Charles. Nope, not desensitized. Getting better at manipulation.“

A quick archeological romp through dig sites, casinos and couple of world-class cities. It’s a fun ride and with enough spark to distinguish itself in a genre full of stereotypes. I’ll have to admit; at the beginning I was struck by the resemblance to Indiana Jones. Not because of the amazing character charisma; actually, Owl is generally short on people skills. More because the plot sped along with so many entertaining events, I didn’t mind a couple of logic or character derailments and focused on just enjoying the ride.

In brief: Owl has become an archeology thief after being bounced from her graduate program for political reasons. Constantly on the move because of vampires seeking revenge for a job gone bad, she gets an offer she can’t refuse, no matter how much she would like to. Success– she gets paid and the vampires off her trail. Fail–she’ll be eaten by a dragon. She takes the assignment to find and translate a missing scroll, discovering she has competition.

The setting is standard modern urban fantasy: a supernatural world concealed from the normals, with supers living largely intermingled and an international squad designed to keep the magical on the down low. Personally, I’m never troubled by the ins and outs of the secret underworld scenario, and it helps that the supernaturals do not seem so populous as to cause obvious questions. I liked the world building well-enough, and I appreciated the variety of settings. There were a number of “Japanese culture is like this…” and “typical Russian that…” kind of statements, but they largely stood the generalizations on first read–at least, they didn’t appear to be condescending, more cultural generalizations.

“People are real happy to make friends with you when a two-thousand-year-old mummy knocks off half their team, but returning the favor always pisses them off. No one likes to pay up out of the goodness of their heart; that’s why I usually get cash up front.“

Owl is a largely familiar type, an outsider, fractious woman who keeps everyone at arms’ length and focusing on the financial rewards of her work. She reminds me most of Rachel from Kim Harrison’s Hallows series, with all of Rachel���s bravado and lack of reflection. Personally, I ran into a couple of moments where I found myself disliking Owl, but the writing and plotting pulled me through. I think by the end of the story, she experienced some appropriate and logical character growth, and at least she had people that called her out on her decisions. For me, the slight shifts towards reflection made it more rewarding than other UF series such as Morning’s Fever books, where the main character was so consistently unlikeable, I couldn’t get past book one.

The plot moved swiftly and kept me engaged. The archeological sequences were fun, and the setting changed enough to provide variety in what was essentially a series of quest steps. For some people, I suspect a number of deux ex machina solutions will possibly annoy. At critical moments, others prove to have unusual sets of skills that save the day. While it is certainly refreshing not to have a superpower/undiscovered skills–and I have to admit, there are many who do–in this case Owl has more than a little help. Her main trait, and one that most seems to resemble Rachel, is a dogged persistence. I usually end up irritated by the typical head-blind stubbornness. More than once, Owl’s refusal to do some small thing prevents an easy out/rescue/solution. However, it’s also worth noting that this book has a clear ending, while paving the way for future developments.

There are a few moments that push my boundaries of my personal UF acceptability and push it into PNR; descriptions of applying make-up, although at least here its a deception strategy; a preoccupation with labelled clothing, particularly a fascination with Chanel and Ralph Lauren (which are actually labels for an older age group, not the twenty-year-old too hip to see over my hips); an unholy obsession for Corona beer; an addiction to drinking that includes at least a couple drinks a day while a friend complains she “can’t hold her liquor;” and relationship obstacles based on unrevealed truths. Those tropes bother me, but are likely part of the development of the teen-twenty something demographic that many UFs are aiming for. There’s also some more maturely conceived PNR developments with a potentially blossoming relationship, but without enough of primary focus to move it into full PNR territory.

Very rarely, there is a tiny bit of writing that could be smoothed out–for instance, what convenience store 16 year-old clerk would be surprised at ringing up four bags of chips, diet soda, Corona and cat food? Or saying someone is “hard to read” while complaining, “I still didn’t know where he was from.” Because emotional expression is equivalent to past? One final discordance for me was a chapter that focuses on a gaming sequence. I see where it played an overall role, and perhaps part of a character trait, but I don’t know that it fit with the tone of urgency/chase.

That said, I found the writing to be above average for the genre. Overall, it proved a pleasure, and I was glad of its diversion. I’d recommend to fans of Kim Harrison’s Hollows and Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock. Currently projected to sell at $1.99, it’s a bargain price for a quality book. Here’s hoping that Charish is hard at work on the next installment, because I’ll be sure to give it a read.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for providing me an advance copy to review. Quotes are taken from a galley copy and are subject to change in the published edition. Still, I think it gives a flavor of the writing.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,594 followers
March 14, 2016
*** 3.85 ***

A buddy read with the Urban Fantasy fans at the MacHalo group!!!

To be honest, I was not expecting much from this book, since I thought the title was kind of goofy... And the truth is, it is a bit difficult to find a good new Urban Fantasy series - there are a lot of underwhelming examples out there... However, I am here to report that in this silly named series I actually found a very entertaining and well written entry into the world of UF. !!!

Owl is an antiquities with a supernatural lean thief with very poor communication skills. She has been kicked out from her archeology masters program dew to stumbling onto a dig with unnatural mystical creatures. This unfortunate event lead to her discovering that supernatural beings exist and cohabit with us, and her life as she knew it had come to an end - she was on the run and off the grid, hiding for her life.

For the last year she has been running from some pesky vampires but somehow got blackmailed into a job for the very powerful Red Japanese Dragon in Las Vegas... I know, fun, right?!

Well, needless to say, things get messy! There are plots interweaving with intrigues, crossed by friendships and betrayals and topped with fascinating creatures galore!!! Owl constantly runs into trouble, or more correctly, throws herself head first into it. It is a good thing she has loyal friends, because she should have been dead many times over... However, she is bright, quick and decisive. Even when she is wrong, she doesn't waiver. When in difficulty she usually runs, not very brave but hey, she is a surviver! When cornered, well, that is when she becomes stupid and lashes out at friend or foe - not an endearing quality for sure! She even bugged the heck out of me in those situations! But just like every human, Owl is flawed and imperfect, and I like her more for it!!!

So, I would definitely recommend this book to all my Fantasy and more precisely Urban Fantasy fan friends! Yes, it is not a perfect read, but I think it is a good start for a series, which I hope get better and better with time! There is no explicit and gratuitous sex or violence, so young readers can also enjoy it.
It is worth giving it a try.

I hope you all have a wonderful time reading and may every page be a gift to you!!!
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,937 reviews798 followers
April 1, 2018
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 an 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 meet, 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 want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!
Profile Image for Kaora.
585 reviews283 followers
December 24, 2014
Pigs are flying, hell is frozen, and Kaora read and enjoyed an Urban Fantasy.

What the hell is going on?

Owl and the Japanese Circus follows Owl, a socially awkward thief with a heart of gold. On the run from vampires, Owl is offered the chance to escape her hunters in exchange for finding an artifact. The only catch - he is a dragon and Owl doesn't work for the supernatural. But the offer is one that is too good to pass up...

I have a strict policy. No magic, no monsters, no supernatural clients. Ever. I stumbled into what I like to call "supernatural shit" on my third job. Completely by accident, I might add. If you were wondering what drove me off the grid into living in a Winnebago, using disposable phone and hijacked satellite internet, that was it.

I really liked Owl as a protagonist. She was sarcastic, and smart, although she had an issue with throwing herself into bad situations without thinking. I thought she provided a unique voice.

Yup, that's me, along with the passport that said I was a Canadian archaeology student named Charity Greenwoods. I mean, Charity Greenwoods - the name reeks of wholesome goodness. No one is oing to stop Charity Greenwoods at a security checkpoint or at a middle-security digsite.

The story was intriguing with a cast of supernatural characters. An incubus, a naga, vengeful ghosts, vampires and even a dragon. I thought it was an interesting world and the story kept me hooked.

I was hoping that it would be romance free (ha yeah right UF without romance), but it wasn't. While I didn't care much for the love interest. I thought he was nothing special and really couldn't understand the draw (other than looks *eyeroll*). Thankfully it took a backseat, and didn't distract from the main story too much.

While I am no means an expert on this genre, as I'm relatively new to it, I thought this was a great start to a series that I look forward to.

Cross posted at Kaora's Corner.
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,071 reviews2,631 followers
January 12, 2015
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/01/09/b...

UPDATED: GIVEAWAY of OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS (print copy US/Canada, digital copy International) ends 1/21/15, details here: http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/01/12/g...

Kristi Charish is an author after my own heart. First, her book Owl and the Japanese Circus stars Alix “Owl” Hiboux, a former archaeologist turned international antiquities thief. Having been an Archaeology student myself, I can’t in good conscience say I endorse the character’s tomb raiding and thieving ways, but heck, anything to do with archaeology will inevitably will catch my attention – and consider me on board with Owl’s whole “Indiana Jane” persona! Second, much of the novel takes place in fabulous Las Vegas, one of my favorite cities in the world. And third, Owl is a hardcore gamer and lover of RPGs, and it greatly intrigues me that her favorite online game World Quest might be more than it seems…

It doesn’t end there. There’s a lot more here that urban fantasy readers will really get a kick out of, from vampires and naga and nympths to more exotic supernaturals like Kami spirits. Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon masquerading as a human that first summons Owl to his lavish Japanese Circus Casino in Vegas to make her an offer she can’t refuse – retrieve a priceless artifact for him, and in return he’ll help Owl take care of a pack of vampires that have been dogging her steps for months and making her life a living hell.

Of course, things are never so simple. And this is why Owl hates working supernatural jobs. Together with her best friend Nadya and the charismatic and hunky ex-mercenary Rynn, Owl stumbles into one disastrous problem after another in the course of her world-wide treasure hunt, and it’s going to take all her wits to simply stay alive.

Thing is, Owl may have the brains, but her problem solving abilities are often hindered by her temper, impatience, and a trigger-happy mouth that has the unfortunate tendency to spout foul insults at anyone – friends and enemies alike – when she feels they have her up against a wall. As a result, Owl feels a lot less idealized when compared to a lot of her urban fantasy heroine counterparts, making her come across more flawed, real and human. That said, I doubt it’ll be easy to get through the book without feeling multiple urges to throttle her for being so foolhardy and bullheaded, or for not thinking things through and always charging head-first into danger without a plan. Still, while it might take a while for Owl to grow on you, her spunky personality also makes this one a fast-paced, energizing read.

The story is also a lot of fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, the plot constantly moving from one action scene to the next, thundering along like a runaway freight train. There are a lot of moments where you have to suspend your disbelief, but nothing so extreme that it prevented me from enjoying myself. Also, as is the case with a lot of debut novels, there’s a rawness to the storytelling, some plot inconsistencies that cropped up every now and then (like, given the dangerous nature of the scroll Owl was tasked to find and the fact Mr. Kurasawa knew all about it, why would he even seek to find a translation?) and some minor contradictions (early on in the novel, Owl mentions looking forward about getting plenty of time to sleep on the plane, but later when on board, admits that she can’t ever sleep on planes) but since I read the advanced copy, I imagine many of these hiccups will be ironed out in the final.

All told, this is a great start to what looks to be a very different kind of urban fantasy. I’d like to see more of the archaeology and gaming angle, and I’m definitely interested in continuing Owl’s future adventures if the books keep up with the heavy action and fun.
Profile Image for Yodamom.
2,003 reviews195 followers
January 14, 2015
Loved this nerd infused urban fantasy action filled romance touched tale. It hit all my fun times buttons, dragons, incubuses, vampires, elves, ghosts, all kinds of para-things plus gammers, hackers and archeologists. I never had a meh moment, I enjoyed the heck out of this one. Fun.
Owl is a thief, she is a good thief which is how she got into her present predicament working for a dragon. She was a promising archeology student till something went bad. It got worse she did a job for some vampires and well now they want her dead, permanently. She lives in her van driving from place to place with her smart kitty trying to stay off the grid. Then one day she gets an offer she can’t refuse from a dragon who offers to get the vampires off her back if she works for him, or he’ll just end her. She does what anyone would do she takes the job, and drags her friends in for fun and adventure. They have to find something so hidden it just might be impossible.
Owl is smart but she is not the most observant when it comes to spotting the others in the world. She seems to suffer from TSTL moments but she really doesn’t, she just didn’t see it. She’s not good with people and overlooks the elephant right in front of her sometimes. She is a major gammer, has a need to unwind at her controls daily but even that has some big surprises for her. This poor girl has her world shaken violently not stirred.
Great side characters, interesting unusual and full of snark. Captain, her cat stole scenes away from all of them. He is a rock star of the cat world !
Cliffhanger soft ending. I can’t wait for the next book.
March 22, 2016
How the fuck does this girl remain alive through the entire book? She is supremely TSTL. Her POV was that of an immature child telling me about their day in minute detail - repeatedly, with the exact same phrases over and over. Besides Owl being TSTL, she's also just plain dumb. She notices nothing of a supernatural nature, despite knowing of their existence. I doubt she'd notice a unicorn even if it trampled her obliviously dumb ass.

Nayda got on my nerves with her attitude and Rynn (is this a fancy & girly looking way to spell Ryan? Rin? Like Rin Tin Tin?) is some lukewarm hotness. I picture him as a vacant eyed underwear model type. Seriously, barely a pulse on the attraction levels between the leads.

The plot, the whole finding antiquities/treasure/artifacts was interesting enough & kept me reading + I'm sick and I don't like to read excellent books when I'm ill. I prefer to read mediocre to crappy books when I'm ill, suffer in reading along with body. I can't enjoy good books when I feel like the living dead. This book fit that crappy requirement. I should've DNF-ed it, because I hated Owl & everyone minus Oricho, but poor judgement right now.

I have more to rant about all the ways I hated Owl later. Examples: her lack of useful knowledge, no fighting skills; it's really a long list.

Buddy Read with the MacHalos
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,343 reviews1,017 followers
March 24, 2016
3.5 stars

Owl used to be an archaeology student but now she's an antiquities thief and a very good one at that. If there is treasure hidden in a tomb somewhere and you want to acquire it Owl is your girl but at the moment you might find she's a little distracted by the vampires that are trying to murder her in revenge for an unfortunate accident. Staying one step ahead of the vampires is exhausting and not likely to be something she can manage for any length of time without help but there isn't really anyone she can turn to. Until she is approached by Mr. Kurosawa, a dragon shifter who owns a popular Las Vegas casino, that is. Mr. Kurosawa has a small task for her and if she can find an artifact that was stolen from him 3,000 years ago he has promised to deal with her vampire problem permanently. Either way he'll keep them off her back while she's working so it's not really an offer she can turn down.

Owl and the Japanese Circus is a promising start to Kristi Charish's first series, there are definitely a lot of things to like about the world she has created and I enjoyed this enough to want to pick up the sequel. I really liked the author's take on vampires, it can be hard to come up with something different in such a saturated market but she managed it, and the whole supernatural underground has a lot of potential, we've already met several different species and I'm sure there are more to come as we continue to explore the world with Owl. I also really enjoyed the Indiana Jones feel to the treasure hunting parts of the story, I actually would have liked to see Owl spending more time exploring ancient sites searching for clues but I was satisfied with what we've had so far.

Where things went slightly wrong for me was actually with Owl and that's a potentially huge problem. I liked her a lot in the beginning but the more time we spent with her the more she seems to come across as stupidly stubborn and a little childish. She makes quite a few stupid mistakes and I was incredibly annoyed with the way she treated the people closest to her, especially her kind of boyfriend Rynn (more on him later). I absolutely hated the names she called him, particularly when the first time it happened she really hurt him but then she continued to use the same names deliberately as a "joke". It wasn't funny the first time Owl so it sure as hell wasn't funny the second, third or fourth time either. I get that Owl doesn't spend much time with people, she's always been a loner and even though she is fairly close to her best friend Nadya they don't spend much time together so she's more than a little socially awkward. That excuse holds up to a point but when you keep making the same mistakes over and over again then the excuse starts wearing very, very thin. Learn from your actions and change them next time please. I do have hope that Owl will grow as the series continues, after all it's no fun if main characters start out perfect, the whole point of reading a series is that we get to see the characters improve, but she's going to have to make a few big changes fast or I doubt I'll get beyond book 2 and that would be a real shame.

Now I've got that little complaint out of the way let's get back to the positives. First and foremost I absolutely loved Owl's main sidekick, her Egyptian Mau cat called Captain. Captain has been trained to hunt and kill vampires and he just added so much fun to the story. I actually have a bit of a soft spot for feline sidekicks so that's definitely an easy way to get bonus points from me! I also liked Nadya who I think must have the patience of a saint to put up with Owl sometimes. Then you have Rynn, now he is a character I want to spend more time with! As far as book boyfriends go Rynn is pretty much spot on, he's hot, he's protective, there is a lot more to him than meets the eye and he has that bad boy charm that comes from being dark and mysterious. I love that we've already uncovered a few of his secrets but I'm sure there is a lot more to come from his character too.

Overall, I do think this was a positive start to the series and I'm definitely planning on reading Owl and the City of Angels to see what happens next. If Owl can just make a concerted effort to be a bit nicer to the people around her then I think I'm going to end up loving this series.

Buddy read with the MacHalos starts 1st of March (although I may be a bit late starting!)
Profile Image for Emma.
2,507 reviews855 followers
April 3, 2017
Hmmm..a low 3 stars. I enjoyed the first half of this but, despite the fact it's an action packed read, was starting to lose interest by the second half.
There's some good stuff in here, but it's eclipsed by the sheer precociousness and wilful recklessness of Owl. This is quite entertaining to start with and I made the mistake of thinking this was feisty assertiveness, but it turned out it was just plain (and repetitive) stupidity.
I feel I need to say something specific about the romance...I like a bit of romance in my paranormal fantasy, I do - as long as it's not too saccharine. No danger of that whatsoever here....the actual romance is quite sweet but do they really need to call each other what they call each other?! ( Read it for yourself if you don't know!)
I liked Captain, fantastic and original sidekick. I like the fact that Owl never recognises the supernaturals for what they are, even though her life is full of them.
That may seem like quite a lot of likes. But even combined, they can't make up for the hot mess of a convoluted plot. In the end, this book seemed far too long. Possibly I'd read the next one, but only if it was part of a kindle daily deal!
Profile Image for Sanaa.
413 reviews2,552 followers
August 25, 2015
[4.5 Stars] So pretty much if you like vampire hunting cats, a reckless antique thief who is a bit socially awkward and likes online role playing games, an underground supernatural world that you learn about here and there, an action packed indiana janes-esque plot, japan, and dragons, you should probably read this one!

Wasn't expecting to love this much as I did, but here I am really freaking loving it. The only reason this doesn't get a 5 star rating is because Owl did something really grating in the book, and then it was offhandedly referenced throughout the book in a joking way. It kinda put me off a little. Everything I loved though! The characters are super intriguing, and I can't wait to learn more about them. The world building is really subtle with no huge info dumps or anything, but what we did learn was unique and exciting. I know we are going to learn a ton more in later books, and that ending!? Carpe is the character I am MOST interested in.
Profile Image for Allison.
554 reviews573 followers
April 1, 2017
It was refreshing to read an Urban Fantasy that wasn't a mystery, but rather an archeological adventure. Even more refreshing was a heroine who, although not inclined to think before acting or speaking, does learn from mistakes and begins listening when her friends ask her not to rush in without a plan. There's also a vampire-hunting cat that offers some comic relief, and a bit of romance where the two involved actually speak to each other like mature adults when they're upset... so all around refreshing.
Profile Image for Carly.
456 reviews185 followers
January 20, 2015
“I have a strict policy. No magic, no monsters, no supernatural clients. Ever.”
So says Owl, ex-archaeologist and thief extraordinaire. Still trying to avoid the vampires that she managed to rile in a previous escapade, Owl is in no mood for a new job. However, she soon discovers that it’s really, really hard to say no to a dragon. It isn’t long before Owl is trying to navigate the tricky waters of supernatural politics while avoiding vampires, angry nagas, and a confusing romantic relationship. Without the help of her friends and allies, she’s all set to crash and burn.

I have such mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I loved the Indiana-Jones-With-Extra-Magic-On-The-Side vibe. I loved Owl’s vampire-killing cat, Captain. I loved Owl’s snarky, quip-filled narration:
“You know your sanity is in question when you find yourself in a two-way conversation with a cat.”
Charish put together a fun world, an entertaining story, and an intriguing villain, and I absolutely adored the ending--specifically, the last sentence of the book.

But certain aspects just drove me nuts. Like trying to enjoy a concert while the guy behind you is whistling “This is the song that never ends,” I found it really, really hard to concentrate on the fun parts.

First, I can’t buy the worldbuilding. The basic idea is that even though the clues of magic are everywhere, the world hasn’t caught on because the International Archaeology Association (IAA) has carefully hidden the truth from the world. How, you might ask? Well, apparently they’re a paramilitary organization with spies and influence everywhere and the ability to reach any archaeological crime scene before the police. Why are they hiding the truth from the world? Well, apparently No One Can Handle the Truth-- well, no-one other than the IAA, and the site guards who are trained to deal with the monsters, and the people funding the IAA, and the universities that the IAA is “strangling”, and the archaeology students, and the antiquity experts. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, any secret kept by more than two or three people leaks pretty darned fast. Masquerade worlds usually function via society’s unwillingness to accept the strange, but in this case, (a) there’s actual hard archaeological evidence of the weirdness, and (b) somehow there’s a vast organisation whose entire purpose is hiding magic, which leaves me with (c) absolutely no idea why anyone would bother, other than plot convenience. Not even the conspiracy itself is consistent; for example, the postdoc Owl worked with “had been falsifying data to hide a supernatural mummy from our supervisor,” who must have been as well aware of it all as the archaeologists themselves.

The other thing that drove me up the wall was Owl herself. Where to begin? As one might expect of an archaeology thief, Owl is not a good person. However, she combines duplicitous bitchery with an absolutely staggering measure of self-righteousness.

Let’s start with her backstory, which Owl seems unable to keep straight. Owl sold her principles for a promise of funding and a cushy post, but since she was too stupid to get any guarantees, the university promptly reneged on its promises. For most of the book, Owl keeps harping on and on about how she left because “My conscience had gotten me thrown out of the university.” Uh, no. She sold her integrity--twice, by my count--and felt betrayed when she discovered it wasn’t as valuable as she had thought.

So much for her honesty. Let’s consider her good nature. When Owl helps out a fellow grad student in desperate straights, she not only feels entitled to some quid pro quo and when he refuses her request, she starts threatening him. When Owl is double-crossed by one of her victims, she feels hurt and betrayed, whining that
“Funny how when people’s lives are in ruins, they’re more than happy to associate with the likes of me. It’s after I fix everything that they suddenly recall I’m treacherous, unconscionable me. [...] No good deed goes unpunished.”
That’s not precisely accurate. They remember she’s a treacherous, vindictive creep when she starts blackmailing them and/or setting up her little revenge schemes.

Now let’s consider her skills. Throughout the book, there’s an assumption that Owl’s talents make her irreplaceable, but I’m not entirely sure what those talents actually are. Owl’s “train wreck” logistics, her tendency to mouth off to everyone she meets, and her inability to “plan her way out of a lit and unlocked chest” become a running gag throughout the book. According to one of her friends,
“You can’t help but do stupid things. It’s in your nature. It’s also what makes you the best at what you do.”
Which makes me think that her valuable skill must actually be for fucking up. Admittedly, she’s absolutely spectacular at that, as well as roping in others to take her knocks for her.

The book showed so much promise. I loved the writing style. I loved the ideas. I'm well aware that the issue is just me Taking It Too Seriously. I really, really regret that I couldn’t enjoy it to the full. I can still heartily recommend it to anyone of a more forgiving and tolerant disposition.

**Note: this review is of an uncorrected advanced reader copy. While the included quotes may not reflect the final phrasing, I believe they speak to the nature of the novel as a whole.**

~~I received this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books, in exchange for my honest review.~~

Cross-posted on BookLikes
Profile Image for K..
3,796 reviews1,021 followers
September 6, 2017
Trigger warnings: violence, murder.

3.25 stars.

I'd heard this book described as Tomb Raider meets Indiana Jones, so obviously I was instantly intrigued. And yet for some reason, I was anticipating this just being a contemporary story in which a former archaeologist steals antiquities. I definitely was NOT expecting vampires and dragons and paranormal beasties galore.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE urban fantasy. But getting urban fantasy when you expected an action/adventure/crime thing? Uh... It was a little unexpected, to say the least.


For the most part, this was an enjoyable story. I did have a few issues with the whole jetting all over the damn place side of things, because DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG IT TAKES TO FLY BETWEEN THOSE PLACES AND YET IT ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE THE SAME DAY WHAT IS THIS MADNESS AND CAN I PLEASE MOVE TO THAT WORLD.

And I also had a few issues with the "I'm an archaeologist, so I can just pull up the blueprints of this ancient historic site in my head without even thinking about it tralalalala" thing, because I have an archaeology degree and LOL NOPE. Especially not when we're talking across numerous continents.

This is something that comes up time and time again in novels (and movies, for that matter) featuring archaeologists. They're always specialists in Greece, Rome, Ancient Egypt, China, Japan, Mesoamerica, the Vikings, the plague pits of London, the abominable snowman, and the Loch Ness Monster. And, like, NO. No no no no no. That is super not how archaeology works. It's SUPER specialised. If you threw me and my qualifications in Australian historical archaeology (i.e. archaeology of 19th century Australia) into Mesoamerica, I'd be all "Um. That is a very pretty building, but unless you find some medicine bottles or some underglaze transfer printed ceramics, I cannot help you".

So. The story was pretty fun. The romance was utterly predictable. The archaeology stuff annoyed me. I'd probably read the second one, but it's not super high up my list.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,794 reviews485 followers
December 6, 2021
This review can also be found at https://carolesrandomlife.com/

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I bought this book years ago and never got around to reading it for one reason or another until now. I really shouldn’t have put it off because it really was a good time. I have read a lot of urban fantasy in my life but this is the first time that I remember reading one that included an archeology angle and I must say that I liked it.

Owl was once a promising archeology student but she found something that she should have and was pushed out of the program. Now she earns a living getting antiques to private buyers, often through theft. The vampires are out to get her from a previous incident and now a dragon wants her to find an artifact for him. Her journey will take her from Vegas to Japan then Bali and she will encounter one bad situation after another.

I found this book to be really exciting. There was a lot of action and the story kept me guessing until the very end. Owl was great and I loved the way that she gave her tasks everything she had. Her vampire attacking cat, Captain, added a lot to the story and I really liked the friends that worked to help Owl with her mission. There was even a bit of romance to keep things really interesting.

I would recommend this book to others. I found it to be a really well-done introduction to a very promising series. I cannot wait to read about Owl’s next adventure.

Book source: Purchased
Profile Image for Olga Godim.
Author 12 books74 followers
November 10, 2014
I received this Kindle ARC through NetGalley

Las Vegas casino – check. A dragon employer – check. A sassy, irreverent girl slash antiquity thief slash former archeology grad – check. A romp around the globe, through Tokyo, Bali, and San Francisco – check. An alternative world where vampires and incubi reside alongside cell phones and online games – check. What’s not to like?
This fast-paced urban fantasy doesn’t even pretend to be serious. The plot leaps and tumbles like an acrobat, always in motion, always towards something outrageous. The protagonist Owl doesn’t have a moment respite. Ever since she was forced into a job, chasing a three-thousand-year-old scroll, by a shape-shifting dragon aka casino owner (a really nasty guy), vampires have been trailing her. They want her dead and they want the scroll too.
Owl is only half a step ahead of her adversaries, but she perseveres, searching for clues at archeological digs, university archives, and online, while dodging the vampires and their flunkies, one fang at a time. She doesn’t know how to quit. Besides, nobody in her right mind says No to a dragon. If he is upset with her services, he might eat her.
Owl’s Egyptian cat Captain is her best ally – he is trained to recognize and attack vampires. Along the way, Owl acquires other sidekicks too: Nadya, Owl’s best friend from her student days, currently a bar manager in Tokyo, and Rynn, a hunky guy with charming eyes, but Owl is not sure about him. Maybe she shouldn’t let Rynn too close. She likes him too much. It might not be healthy for her heart.
The novel is well written and utterly engrossing, and I definitely enjoyed it…to a degree. Sadly, I couldn’t love this story without reservations. Here is why.
First, almost everyone besides Owl and her two friends is an enemy. Everyone lies. Everyone gets bought by the vamps. Everyone has a hidden agenda. Are there no honest people in the author’s universe?
Second, Owl faces too many obstacles too often. She hurtles from one misadventure to another without a break or a plan. After a while, I got desensitized to the heroine’s plights. The emotional connection was broken. So what if one more vampire beats her up in one more catacomb? She’ll come away the winner anyway. Her bruises all heal the next day, and there is a new villain waiting three pages from now. I stopped caring about her after 50 pages or so, when she became a cardboard girl, a subject to the author’s imagination. A very rich imagination to be sure, so I just read a riveting caper without identifying or sympathizing with the heroine.
Last, I don’t approve of reckless behavior or offensive mouth in anyone, and Owl has both in abundance. She insults everyone she meets, including every supernatural, and doesn’t seem to know the famous saying “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” She uses verbal vinegar without exceptions, often to her own detriment. I’m not surprised nobody likes her, and she has enemies galore.
I dislike her too, but my dislike is subjective and personal. Other readers might like her or sympathize with her. There are many similar heroines in the urban fantasy world today. Think Charlaine Harris, Faith Hunter, or Laurell Hamilton. If you like their stories and characters, you’ll love this one. Objectively, it is a good book and a marvelous debut novel.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,395 reviews158 followers
January 6, 2015
Four stars: A solid beginning to a new UF with interesting characters and exciting story lines.

Owl quickly scans her surroundings. The coast is clear, no vampires in sight. She heads into the gas station to grab supplies for the long road trip ahead. At the cash register, she is accosted by a giant, tattooed Japanese man who insists she accompany him to see his boss, Mr. Kurosawa. Owl has no choice. When she meets Mr. Kurosawa, he insists that the ancient egg she recently sold him is missing something. Owl assures him that it is intact. His eyes glow red and he threatens to eat her. Owl had no idea she was dealing with a dragon. Now she must make a hard choice. She can either work for Mr. Kurosawa, a dragon, and retrieve the missing scroll to the egg, or continue to press her luck with the vampires who are hunting her. Will Owl survive?

What I Liked:
*I am pleased to report that I have found a satisfying new UF series. I enjoyed the wide cast of paranormal characters, the story lines, the action, danger and even the online video gaming world. All in all, I was satisfied with my introduction to Owl and her interesting world.
*I was thrilled to see not only a large and varied cast of paranormal entities, including some that are lesser known like the naga. I also appreciated that Ms. Charish brought many new ideas to the table especially when it came to vampires. It was refreshing to encounter so much variety and originality.
*Owl is an archeologist turned thief. While I am not sold on the idea of her being a thief, I liked all the nods to archeology. You don't get too many books that feature archeology in the UF/paranormal genre, so I was thrilled to explore a new topic. I had to laugh, there was even a nod to one of the most famous archeologists on film with a line about hating snakes.
*Owl is a character that takes time to warm up to. I like her, but I know that she has a long way to go. She tends to make rather rash and sometimes stupid decisions, like mouthing off to dragons and vampires. She gets her ass handed to her time and time again. She has lots of issues and few friends. However, I know that she is going to be a character who will grow and mature as books go on, at least I hope so. I think she will be molded into a great character. She is a character that requires time and patience, but I think it will pay off.
*The romance is slow and hesitant and it moves at just the right pace. I thought the chemistry was terrific and I liked how it played out. It was one with lots of stumbles and hurdles to overcome, but now that it is established, I think it will be terrific. I appreciated that it was not a big focus and that it moved at an appropriate pace.
*I was surprised at how much I ended up enjoying the scenes where Owl is immersed in her video gaming world. I a not a video gamer, but I found the parts in the book when Owl is playing her World Quest game to be very entertaining.
*Captain the Cat is all kinds of fun. He is a great side kick. He is a Mau cat, a cat trained to hunt down and attack vampires. I loved the originality of Captain.
*I enjoyed the humor. Some of the scenes between Owl and Alexander, the vampire hunting her, are hilarious. I am hoping that there will more banter between them for many books to come.
*Once the story hits its stride, the action is terrific. There are also lots of big reveals, exciting twists and some jaw dropping revelations. I loved all the surprises in this one.
*I appreciated that the ending drew to a satisfactory close. After a thrilling climax and exciting ending with lots of action, I got most of the big answers. There are still some smaller things to follow up on, and the last line was definitely one to ponder. I am most eager to read the next book.
And The Not So Much:
*The pacing early on is a bit slow going as Ms. Charish takes plenty of time to introduce the characters and the plot. It took a bit of time to settle into this one, but once the story starts moving, it doesn't look back. The ending is jam packed with shocking surprises. Worth the wait.
*As much as I loved Captain the sidekick cat, it was a bit ridiculous that Owl had to haul him around in a carrier. Heading into an archaeological dig with a cat in a carrier was a little weird. Furthermore, always having to haul around the carrier presented some interesting challenges, and sometimes the author didn't quite pull it off. For instance, there is a scene where Owl and her friend, Nayda are going to break into a museum. Owl breaks in and moves around, and there is no mention of the Cat, or hauling his carrier in, in fact both hands are empty, then suddenly a few pages later, Captain and his carrier are there? What? Again, the whole cat sidekick thing didn't quite work.
*There is this big storyline regarding a powerful vampire who is after Owl. Then it is revealed who this vampire is and why she is angry with Owl. I never understood though how she became a vampire after what happened to her. It wasn't explained. I am guessing there was something in that tomb?
*As I mentioned earlier, there are many different paranormal entities introduced throughout. Unfortunately, the author assumes that everyone is in the know when it comes to all the paranormal creatures and sometimes there aren't many details on the creatures. A bit more explanation on some of the paranormal characters and their abilities would be helpful.

Owl and the Japanese Circus was a solid intro to what I hope will be an outstanding UF series. I enjoyed the originality with this one, and I appreciated that it features archeology. I loved all the action, danger and plot twists as well. I most eager to continue this series. I can't wait to monitor Owl's growth.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
Posted@Rainy Day Ramblings.

Profile Image for Matthew.
381 reviews138 followers
January 20, 2015
Owl and the Japanese Circus tells the tale of Owl, an ex-archaology student turned antiquities thief. Whilst working Owl receives a job offer from Mr. Kurosawa, which she accepts. If Owl retrieves an artefact stolen thousands of years ago for him he will take care of the pack of vampires that want her dead. But Owl must tread carefully, Mr. Kurosawa is also a red dragon, and dragons also love to eat thieves.

Every now and again a book comes along that not only surprises you, but also excites you. Owl and Japanese Circus is a fun and adventurous read and that had me enthralled late into the night. Owl is a sarcastic, quick witted thief with a tendency to get herself into troublesome situations. I adored her snarky attitude, and I loved reading her dialogue throughout the story. I also enjoyed the rest of the characters in the story, from Owl's companion Captain right through to her online gaming partner Carpe. I thought each character was well executed, and each brought a unique voice to the plot. I also loved the supernatural elements that were incorporated into this book. Creatures like vampires, nagas, dragons and ghosts all appear, and they are a constant source of supernatural action and mayhem throughout.

The only thing I thought that wasn't for me (and this is a personal thing... I'm sure others will love it) was the romantic subplot. Luckily it didn't really detract from the main storyline.

All in all Owl and the Japanese Circus was a cracking debut from Charish. Fun, adventurous urban fantasy with a strong and snarky female protagonist. I cannot wait to see what Charish produces next!

4 out of 5 stars.

Profile Image for Talk Supe.
1,283 reviews93 followers
December 23, 2014
Love this new UF c/o Kristi Charish! We're taken for a wild adventure starting at the Vegas strip moving to Harajuku in Japan down to the ancient temples in Bali where Owl meets a collage of Supes from Dragons to nagas, vamps, nymphs, and Japanese ghosts.

More on this series + a signed print giveaway over at the blog: www.talksupeblog.com
Profile Image for Ashley Marie .
1,299 reviews393 followers
March 9, 2016
3.5 stars, rounded up because I'm nice like that.

I really had a good time with this book -- Owl knows her shit but she's not perfect by any means, in fact a lot of things that happen in the book are because she screwed something or other up. She deals with supernatural creatures ranging from dragons to nagas to vampires to nymphs, all while trying to figure out an ancient puzzle (and some intense gaming on the side when she hits a roadblock). She has a sassy cat and even sassier best friend, and a love interest I was actually on board with (score one for urban fantasies). Some of the misdirection may have been a tad predictable, but I enjoyed the hell out of this book.

The one thing I didn't like was the (sometimes copious) amount of spelling and grammatical errors. They seemed to pick up somewhere around the halfway point or so, and ranged from a letter missing to a completely different word in place of the word that should have been used -- I would cite examples but it's 10:30 at night and I'm tired and lazy and don't want to nitpick about stupid little things that got on my nerves.

Regardless of the mistakes (which really ought to be chalked up to an editor who was asleep on the job), I'm definitely looking forward to picking up the second book!
Profile Image for Anya.
763 reviews168 followers
January 4, 2015
I definitely have a new must buy author and series! Owl is my favorite mix of spunky and nerdy, how can you say no to archeological adventure featuring a red dragon??? Perfect for fan of Kate Daniels and Mercy Thompson :D.
Profile Image for Athena.
240 reviews41 followers
March 4, 2016
This book didn't work for me. I should have been warned by the cover art, an 'archeologist' holding a rock hammer, but most cover art gets something wrong. I kept trying with Owl and it was an easy read, the writing is fast-paced and moves you right along; I just never believed where it took me and I don't mean the supernatural characters. To be fair my background is in historical archaeology and for me there were so many sloppy plot points leaping out that my ability to suspend disbelief burned away early on. Since that's not going to be the case for most readers this may just be my cranky review saying 'get that goddamn rock hammer away from my dig.' ;)

Something that really annoyed me about this book is the author has Owl constantly throwing herself into the kind of trouble that would get her killed and is only saved by … a man. Absolutely passively saved from her POV, he just shows up because he's been looking out for her. Really? In 2015 we couldn't get past that old romance-novel trope?

The plot is underscored with reasons for Owl's bad decisions repeated over and over and over again (not to mention full-blown alcoholism - Corona beer ought to pay royalties to Charish). I understood pretty quickly the oft-stated (lame) excuses that she was "bad with people," and 'bad with recognizing supernatural beings' although neither sufficiently explain her constant 'flight' response to anything the least bit scary: no, not supernaturals, more like behaving like a semi-grown-up to keep the two friends she somehow managed to make. There's also way too much deus ex machina, wham-bam here's the faux passport/computer decryption/hi-tech-supplies along with friends/acquaintances who pop in at just the right moment to save her bacon.

She's an on-line gamer with enough inconsequential detail about her gaming that I started skipping it, especially one multipage description of a single gaming session. Possibly the only thing more tedious for non-gamers than gameplay is lengthy descriptions of other people's play.

This could be a good YA book but with the unacknowledged alcoholism of the main character and the (unseen) drunken sex, I won't recommend this to any teen. I don't have a problem pointing teens toward good books that would be 'R' rated but there is no justification for the main character's chronic beer habit unless she dries out in the next book. If she does, alas, I won't know: I just can't take anymore. Now get that rock hammer the hell outta here ...
Profile Image for Snarktastic Sonja.
525 reviews56 followers
August 26, 2023
This is a new author for me. And, a fairly new series - only two books have been released to date. I really enjoyed it. It is different from your standard vampire/werewolf/demon fair. Owl is a former archaeology student who has, through a series of events not necessarily shown to us, ended up in a life of crime. She travels in her Winnebago. I simply cannot pass the visions of Martin Crane in Frasier. . . makes me crack up every time.

At the beginning of our story, she is on the run with her psycho cat, Captain. She stops long enough to delve into her video games. (As a gamer, I also enjoyed her video game obsession.) She has sworn off all work for supernaturals - but she fails abysmally and gets sucked into a search she knows better than to tackle with a promise she cannot refuse.

She has two friends - her old college roommate, Nadya, and the guy that works at a escort sort of establishment, Rynn. Sidekicks are a necessary component for me - and I enjoyed these two immensely. They quickly get sucked into her adventures.

The travel takes us across the globe, the archaeology is fascinating, the puzzle solving skills are intriguing, and the characters are well drawn and amusing. I loved this one. The series has ended up on my "must buy" list.
Profile Image for ☕️Kimberly  (Caffeinated Reviewer).
3,094 reviews665 followers
March 17, 2015
Caffeinated Breakdown of Owl and the Japanese Circus

The world: The tale takes place mostly at the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas, but Charish also takes us to Tokyo and Bali. Our heroine had a bad run in dealing with vampires and has one rule, “No supernatural jobs.” Of course, life does not workout that way, especially if you have Owl's luck.  Charish’s world is filled with unique creatures from naga to radish demons. Owl along with her unique cat reluctantly take on a case for a dragon.


Owl is such a unique character. I rather imagine her to be like the character, Claudia Donovan from the hit TV show Warehouse 13. At this time, I believe she is 100% human, and is an archaeologist turned thief. She can read oodles of dead languages and understand them just do not ask her to speak them. She works literally by the seat of her pants diving head first into situations. I find it hilarious that she cannot detect supernatural creatures without the aid of her cat. She is also a gamer and loves to escape into World Quest. Trust issues, and years of living off the grid in her Winnebago have not helped, but I liked her, laughed at the precarious situations she found herself in and hope we see growth as the series progresses.

Nayda is Owl’s best friend.  She owns a nightclub and  is skilled at deciphering code. I like Nayda and love that she holds Owl accountable and pushes her.

Owl met Ryann previously through Nayda and they formed a friendship. I enjoyed how the author developed Ryann. She delivered one surprise after the other. The man is sexy, mysterious and a good listener..a quality I adore.

Mr. Kurosawa is the red dragon who hires Owl to retrieve and translate an artifact in exchange for something Owl cannot resist. Between the dragon and his seconds in command, I was spellbound.

Alexander is a vampire who tangles with Owl. I absolutely adore their interactions. Snark meets flirtation and their conversations made me giggle. Despite being enemies their relationship is laced with mutual respect. I want more.

Captain is a Mau cat and Owl’s sidekick and companion. She has trained him to hunt vampires. This was fun, and the tricks Owl taught him made me laugh as he helped her out of jams. My only issue is the logistics of carrying his carrier around. Idk, put him in a knap-sack or something.

There are so many side characters that added to the tale, and the list of supernatural creatures we encounter was delicious. I never knew what we would come across next. What is the bartender or the girl on the train?

Romance: We witnesses a relationship grow from friendship to more despite Owl’s fears. This relationship is filled with snark, friendship and wicked banter. It developed slowly and is one that will continue to develop. There are some twists, and a few bump but they really made things interesting. From the chemistry to the banter, I look forward to more.

Plot: For the first book in a new series I felt the author did an excellent job of fleshing out the world and characters all while delivering an exciting case. The story was action-packed from dig sites to battles in the casino. I didn't want to set Owl and the Japanese Circus down and was consumed by thoughts of it when I did.  While I still have some unanswered questions, the ending has me excited for the next installment.

Conclusion: I thoroughly enjoyed Owl and the Japanese Circus and look forward to more adventures with these characters. For me this was a refreshing urban fantasy filled with unique characters and unlimited possibilities. Owl and the City of Angels the next book in the series is set to release in the summer of 2015. *Hoot-Hoot* This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Profile Image for Joy (joyous reads).
1,488 reviews290 followers
July 13, 2016
No digs for you!

Once upon a time, Owl had a promising career in archaeology. But an ethical decision to blow the whistle on her superiors left her blacklisted among her peers and colleagues. In an ironic twist of fate, the current state of her career is suspect, to say the least. She’s a hired thief, with supernatural beings for employers on a quest to find artifacts that bear importance to their kinds.

Fire-breathers, Blood-suckers, Venom-spitters.

Her recent assignment brings her face-to-face with the most dangerous creatures known to the supernatural world: dragons, vampires, and nagas. She needs to find a scroll bearing a magic spell that if translated and read properly, has the potential catastrophic destruction of an atomic bomb. Time is of the essence as a powerful vampire with a personal grudge against Owl is also on a quest for the same dangerous artifact. One obstacle after another, Owl, along with her friends will travel to Bali, and Vegas, and California in search of this scroll. That is, if those after her life doesn’t get to her first.

Indiana Jane.

Owl tackled every legends and myths accompanying every artifact in learned expertise. I didn’t think it would be my thing, but her voice as a smart-ass, fearless treasure hunter helped. Think, Indiana Jones with very little sense of self-preservation. This girl didn’t know the meaning of ‘surrender’, and one who persistently ignore the social etiquettes when in the company of supernatural beings. She’s as stubborn as they come; one who induces a great need to wring someone’s neck…preferably hers.

Got Your Cheetos and Slurpee ready?

If you’re a RPG aficionado, you will find a kindred spirit with our girl. She plays a game throughout the book that, if you’re not careful, has a tendency to be confusing. I know I had my moments. In some instances, I found myself reading with glazed eyes. I could’ve gone without it, to be honest. But I understand that it’s all a part of her characterization.

Low and Slow.

If you like romance, this one has a burgeoning one between Rynn, a mysterious bar tender who was a former mercenary, and Owl. A romance that will probably not reach fruition until…whenever the heck the author deems it timely. I have no problem with this. I was told that Urban Fantasy books tend to drag it out until the bitter end, so I’m expecting this.

Nice to Meet You!

So this is a fantastic beginning. Owl’s complete lack of respect for authority is what makes her commendable and frustrating in equal measure. But this is what makes this series all that much fun to read. She’ll take you to places you could only dare to dream of going and teach you a thing or two about myths and legends you won’t normally find in books.
Profile Image for Beth.
3,129 reviews269 followers
December 15, 2014
When a synopsis starts with fans of... will love this book, I have to admit...I'm a little sceptical. Much to my utter delight, I was absolutely thrilled with Owl and the Japanese Circus. I also have to admit, I felt it did live up to its comparisons in the synopsis.

The archaeology world is fully aware of the supernaturals among us, but the rule of thumb is never to reveal their presence. When grad-student Alix's excavations turns horribly wrong by a supernatural force, she becomes the “fall guy” to the university and academic world. Working outside the academic parameters can be very profitable but Alix has learned her lesson and made a rule to never deal with supernatural again...unfortunately, a simple mishap with a vampire has put her on the run and in the sights of a dragon.

Forced into another supernatural retrieval, Alix aka Owl discovers the supernatural world isn't exactly as she's imagined and she really sucks at identifying the supernatural around her.

Owl is a completely flawed character, human, struggling to survive among creatures faster and with much more life experiences because most of them are immortal or nearly so. I really enjoyed watching the character growth in Owl. She must re-evaluate her opinions and does so often when she realizes her errors in thinking.

There are a few plot issues but for the wonderful storytelling I could completely overlook.

I loved exploring the world Kristi Charish created and I can't wait to see where Charish takes us next.

I notices that the ebook vendors currently have it listed at a marvelous pre-order price. If you love a great Paranormal Urban Fantasy, check it out.

I received this ARC copy of Owl and the Japanese Circus from Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication January 13, 2015.

Written by: Kristi Charish
Page Count: 432 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books; Canadian Origin edition
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Rating: 5 Stars
ISBN-10: 1476794995
ISBN-13: 978-1476794990
Genre: Urban Fantasy | Paranormal
Find this book on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Reviewed for: http://tometender.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Melindeeloo.
3,103 reviews159 followers
October 17, 2015
2.5 to 3 stars. This was sort of a mixed read for me, just because it had all the right stuff - supernatural beings, tomb raider heroine on a vampire's hit list who is an avid gamer, a smart best friend and a cool love interest -but somehow didn't end up being an awesome sum of its parts.

I didn't dislike it, but I didn't love it the way I wanted to. The idea that Owl sneaks around digs and steals artifacts for whomever will pay her offers a decent amount of action, but I just didn't warn up to her as a character. That's probably due to the fact that she's supposed to be smart - she was months away from her graduate degree when she takes the fall for something that leaves her disgraced - but she doesn't act like a smart person. There are a good number times she rushes off without a plan headlong into danger and it's pretty much her love interest Rynn pulling her bacon out of the fire.

I liked Rynn, but the relationship development is mostly prior to this story and all smexy times are blackout - not even really fade to black.

So, the setup was good, the title was great and the rest was okay... not sure if I'll try the next one or not.
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