Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows - Molly E. Johnson - Blog Tour Review

When Spartacus Ryan “Poop Lip” Zander finds his house destroyed and his wacko, Human Cannonball mother missing, it’s obvious that she’s been kidnapped by Bartholomew’s World-Renowned Circus of the Incredible. But when his dad and brother refuse to believe it—because they’re morons, obviously—it’s up to Spartacus to be the hero.

With the Internet-wizardry of his best friend and clues from his mom’s postcards, Spartacus sets out on a zany, west coast rescue mission. But as the stories about the circus get stranger (and Spart’s enemies get weirder), he realizes the only way to bring his family back together is to bring the big top down, once and for all.
Synopsis taken from goodreads.

Title: Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Publisher: RainTown Press
Publication Date: October 26, 2011
Format: ARC
Source: Received from publicist courtesy of Teen Book Scene. Many thanks goes to RainTown Press and Teen Book Scene for sending me a copy of this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review. 
Tour: Teen Book Scene blog tour. You can follow along with the tour here, or by clicking through the banner located below the review. 
My rating: 4/5

Spartacus Ryan Zander has always disliked his name. It's not normal enough for him, and to add insult to injury, his older brother has dubbed him "Poop Lip" due to the freckle or mole on his upper lip. When his mother joins the circus, Spartacus is left bereft. He believes she has been kidnapped, and no one will do anything about it. His father doesn't seem to be worried, which makes Spartacus even more concerned. He devises a plan to find his mother, but he'll have to rely on his best friend to find him the rides he needs to get to the circus. Once there he uncovers more disturbing news, and he will have to bring down the whole circus if he is going to save those he cares for, as well as himself. 
Spartacus is a sweet kid. He is completely infatuated with saving his mother, and will do anything to bring her back home. With the help of his best friend, he embarks on a journey across several states to get to the circus. He hitches rides with some questionable characters, and finds himself in some hairy situations, but he doesn't lose his determination to find his mother. He is a plucky character, and will have readers engaged in his wild ride to the circus. 
Johnson displays a tongue in cheek quality to her writing, one that will have readers laughing alongside Spartacus as they find him in some increasingly compromising predicaments. The friends he makes as well as the enemies, will have readers hoping that he makes it to the circus in one piece. Then of course, the hard part will be extricating his mother from the grasp of the evil Bartholomew. 
Many characters pop up throughout the novel, and they bring about some of the best comic relief I have read in a long time. The elderly women in the car are hilarious, and will have readers laughing as well as hoping that Spartacus can get himself out of yet another dangerous situation.
All in all, a hilarious and enterprising read. Spartacus will draw readers to him as he travels across state lines to find his mother. An engaging hero, a diabolical villain, and many humorous yet complicated situations will have readers deeply invested in Spartacus' story. 

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