The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus

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The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus is a unique book by a debut author. We follow the ghost of recently deceased Chelsea, older 1970s ghost Carmen, and their human mime friend Cyndricka as they walk cross-country to get to Chelsea's brother's wedding. First off, I love a ghost story, love a road trip novel, love a queer new adult novel. This is all three. 

I was hooked from the first chapter when we see Chelsea's untimely demise firsthand, but I did get a bit bogged down in the middle. I was not surprised to learn that the first draft had been written for National Novel Writing Month. This book is both what is great and difficult about NaNoWriMo-- it is immensely creative (if you know NaNoWriMo lore, look out for the Shovel of Death), but sometimes I felt like the author didn't know what was going to happen next. For me, this was still a welcome change from the more formulaic memoirs and romance novels I'd been reading lately, but if you are looking for a tightly-plotted story, Incorporeal Circus is not it. It's meandering, but pleasantly surprising. I won't give away any spoilers, but I was not let down by the ending.

It also offers a lot in terms of diverse characters, although it appears that the author is white? As a fellow white person, I don't know how good the representations are. On the surface, the characters can be a bit stereotypical - Chelsea's family is Chinese and they wanted her to be a doctor, Cyndricka is black and homeless. These characters are a lot deeper than that surface stuff, though. I feel like I gained a new empathy and understanding of homelessness through this book?? Also, a newfound respect for the art of the mime.

#TripleC #NetGalley
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The fantastical elements of the story were really interesting! It's a surprising book and has excellent queer rep, too.
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High heels, a patch of ice, a train… Chelsea’s life ended abruptly and not in a pretty way. But she won’t let death stop her from attending her brother’s wedding. Which means she needs to get from New York (an interesting place to be a ghost in, fyi) to San Francisco.

Being a spirit, she can’t take a plane nor a car, which go right through her, so she’ll have to walk (hover?) there. Two friends join her on her trip: Carmen, who died decades earlier and is sort of mentoring her into ghosthood, and Cyndricka, a homeless mute Black mime who, for some reason, can see and communicate with ghosts even though she’s not dead.

The relationship between the three travelers is both incredibly unusual and plausible. On their way to California, they also meet the cutest cat, other ghosts and living people, some good, some bad, or even dangerous. I loved Jamie, who sounds like the sweetest ghost ever even without a face. That’s one of the things I loved best about this novel, how the undead keep the appearance they had when they died and are not all ethereally perfect beings.

Despite the subject, there’s nothing heavy about the story, it’s more subtle and penetrating. I don’t think I can explain why I loved this book (yet another excellent debut) so much without giving too much away. It’s not about twists and surprises, it’s all about the way the feelings are built up, how they grow. Like most road trips (at least in books and movies), this one is both a journey cross-country and to themselves.

I took forever to get to this novel (dead people, anxiety, sadness…) and that was stupid of me since it’s made it straight to my favourite-books-of-the-year list. It’s one of the most poetic and charming novels I’ve read. It’s tender and bittersweet, it made me cry and smile at the same time.

The author mentions “the blessing of small miracles” at one point, and that’s exactly what this novel is.

I received a copy from the publisher and I am voluntarily leaving a review.
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Chelsea is determined to be at her brother’s wedding and the fact that she’s been dead for two years isn't going to stop her attending the wedding. So she sets out on foot from New York to San Francisco with her mime friend, Cyndricka and her ghostly mentor, Carmen. On the journey they are faced with joy, sorrow, and the haunting surprises of the open road. 

The characters are diverse, with characters of different ethnicity and sexual orientations and one of the characters uses ASL to communicate.

This book explores relationships, personal burdens, and what it means to keep moving, even when your dead.

This was a wonderful book to read with some lighthearted moments among the heavy dark side.

I received an advance review copy for free via NetGalley and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

#TripleC #NetGalley
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The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus is a ghost story, a road trip adventure, and a powerfully emotional story about friendship, family, love and loss. The book follows the story of Chelsea, Carmen and Cyndricka, two ghosts and a living mime, as they travel across America by foot, and has a wide cast of unique and interesting characters, both living and dead, that they meet along their journey. 

I felt like the book had quite a slow start. I liked the characters, and I understood their motivations, but the plot moved slowly and it felt like not much was happening. But it was enjoyable to read, and I liked the interactions between the characters, so I stuck with it, and I am so glad I did. The pace picks up about halfway through as the characters get into troubles along the road and also open up to each other more, and I became unable to put the book down.

The characters are diverse, with characters of different ethnicities and sexual orientations. The three main characters are Asian, Latina and African American, and one of the characters uses ASL to communicate, which is so rare to see in fiction. The little interactions between the characters, the stories they tell to each other, the hardships they deal with on the road are all very moving, some moments funny and some sad.

No spoilers, but I thought the ending was perfect. Also, I cried.
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Sometimes you come across a story that just takes you by surprise. This is one such story. It’s a ghostly tale from the point of view of the ghost. Chelsea’s brother has finally set a date for his wedding and Chelsea wants to be there. Unfortunate though, that she’s been dead for two years. It’s a long journey by foot from New York to San Francisco but she’s got five months before the wedding. Her friend, Carmen, doesn’t really want her to do the trip but if she’s going to insist then Carmen is going along too. The mime, Cyndrika, who sees ghosts decides she’s going too.

It’s a lovely story with lots of humour and absurdity but also, as you would expect with stories about the dead, quite a bit of pathos. Their lives and deaths are woven together into a powerful journey of sisterhood. 

I loved the speculation and it is presented in a way that makes it totally plausible and engaging. The characters are easy to become invested in and, even though some of them lack physical substance, they are wonderfully present on the pages.

Book received from Netgalley and Atthis Arts for an honest review.
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⭐️⭐️ 2 Stars
The second star is for world-building.

I’ve heard from other reviewers that this was a NaNoWriMo project and this book feels very much like a first draft. From the beginning, the writing was all exposition and all the characters were introduced all at once meaning there was an information overload rather than a slow introduction into a lived-in world. This should have been easy given the contemporary setting however I feel like this was something the book fell down with.

The plot was simple but there was a real lack of tension for readers because it was clear how the story would end from the very beginning. Although the cast of characters was diverse they were not realistic and the writer's choices when characterising them was disappointing.

The only reason that I am giving this book more than one star is because of the world-building, the paranormal elements were easy to understand and the road the characters were taking.
Overall, this was a disappointing read with a really interesting premise.

I received an advance review copy for free via NetGalley and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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A quirky and lovely book about friendship, grief, anger, and love. When Chelsea, a ghost, decides to travel from New York to San Francisco for her brother's wedding--which was delayed because of her death two years earlier--she's unexpectedly accompanied by Carmen, also a ghost, and Cyndricka, a mortal woman who is one of the few in the world able to see and hear ghosts, and who is a mime. Together they encounter other ghosts, some in need of help and others who are a threat; a kitten; helpful and malicious people; and, finally, some truths about themselves, their pasts, and their futures. The characters are diverse in race, sexuality, disability, and more; there's a lovely emphasis on the value of learning languages and on questioning cultural norms. This would be a great book club read, or a parent-and-kids read.
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Based on the description, I thought for sure I would love this one but it just didn't grab me and after many stop and starts, I'm going to mark this one as did not finish.  

I don't rate books I didn't read but if you're insisting then it will be a 1 star review.
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A traveling circus consisting of two ghosts and a mute mime. Sounds like the perfect, quirky read to get that laughter flowing. Or so I thought. Reality was a far cry from what I was expecting. Not fun or quirky but silly (in the wrong way) and flat...


Flat: Yeah, that really is the best word to describe this reading experience, which sounded like it was going to be anything but flat.

Silly: The second best word to describe this book... I cannot take it seriously when a pack of ravenous killer poltergeists can be distracted by a half-assed circus act. That is silly in the wrong way to me.

Jamie: The character Jamie was one I had a hard time with. I just don't understand how a ghost with no head can both see, listen and talk...

Plot: Thin and, essentially, uninteresting.
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I’m fascinated with NaNoWriMo. The fact that someone can come up with an entire novel in a month is pretty mind boggling. No, actually what’s really mind boggling is that someone can come up with a really good novel in a month…yes, that is a nod to Elin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. Although, obviously, it isn’t an easy task, Morgenstern, after all, did take 8 years to produce her next book. So anyway, the reason I’m mentioning this is because this book was also a NaNoWriMo baby, at least it was conceived and conceptualized during it. But the thing is, I can kind of imagine this book being written in a month’s time. Not because it isn’t good, but it does have a sort of, I’m not sure, simplicity maybe, although in an ok way. Maybe straight forwardness is a more apt descriptor, although this book is so far from straight, it’s one of those queer quirky very politically correct things that are immediately associated with millennials. Everyone in the book is of varied ethnicities and many are somewhere under the LGBTQ umbrella. Which is fine and great and I’m all for diversity in literature, but this one seems studiedly precociously so. It’s all about acceptance, friendship, standing up for yourself, following the beat of your own drum, love and so on. Very message y. Very well meaning well intentioned sort of book. And oh so cute, so whimsically cute, it’s like a certain actress name Zooey (in her prime) of books. You can just imagine it knitting you a rainbow sweater out of a sustainably sourced yarn while softly yodeling or something. Anyway, that was my main impression of the book. But there’s more to, there’s an actual plot, it features ghosts. It’s actually a very good ghost story and I very much enjoyed the ghost world building aspects of it. There are three kinds of ghosts, the regular ones (like our traveling protagonists), the very sad ones (wailers) and the very angry ones (poltergeists). And all of them are distinctly different with distinct abilities and powers. But out main ghost is Chelsea, happy 27 year old gay girl in love who can’t negotiate high heeled shoes and slippery subways and ends up struck by a train. Instead of moving on immediately, she gets to linger on and pal around with an older Latina ghost lady and a living homeless mute black girl who performs as a mime in Central park and can see and interact with ghosts. When Chelsea finds out that her bisexual (of course) brother Osric is going to be tying the knot with his lady love Tamika (yeah, those names, cause it’s so whee whee whimsical), she decides to travel all the way across the country to be there. Mind you, ghosts can only travel via actual ambulation, no cars, planes, trains, etc. This is well explained in the book, because, yeah, the world building is good. So Carmen the ghost and Cyndricka the living girl decide to join Chelsea and off they go…at a considerably slower pace now, because of all the real person considerations, but still, they’ve got months to walk and it’s…road trip.  Quintessential road trip story, really. You know, the one where everyone has new experiences, meets interesting characters and eventually matures. And it’s cute, it really is, in fact one can fault it for being too cute. It’s also very young, at least energy wise. And it’s very sincere. You’re meant to like these characters and care for them, everyone’s inner goodness shines through like…I don’t know…like shiny things through ghosts. And I suppose in the end it was just too cute for me. I liked it, it was very likeable, but (and this probably says more about personal preferences than the book itself) for me to really get into the book, it has to be darker, heavier, more…something. Definitely less millennial giddy. And that name, either way you spin it, it just reads like Sisterhood of Traveling Bras. Although apparently according to the characters only double C is reminiscent of bras. Really? Oh ok then. I mean, the name is essentially very descriptively accurate, they travel, they are fleshless (mostly), they entertain, all of their names begin with (oh how cute is that) with the letter C, but really wouldn’t just The Traveling Incorporeal Circus be a more respectable laugh proof title. Well, either way, that’s the title and that’s the book. And if cute (ghosts) is your bag, go for it. Either way, entertaining enough. Read fairly quickly too. Decent for a debut. Turns out not first time reading the author though, she also contributed a story to an absolute delight of an anthology As Told By Things. That one I recommend without reservations. This one, I’m not sure. I suppose it’s original enough (almost) and offbeat enough to merit a read. Thanks Netgalley.
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Weird, compelling, sad and a different point of view.

I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

It took a couple of chapters to get into the plot.  At first, the timeline seemed to stretch forever - well, duh, it's mostly from the perspective of eternity.

Why do some ghosts linger and others are never heard from? How do the living sensitive people deal with the choas of the dead and when do you truly let go?

The story has some uncomfortable moments but is worth the time spent reading about acceptance and moving on.
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4.25 Stars. This was really good! I have to admit that this book surprised me. I was hoping to enjoy this but I sure did not expect it to be so good. I knew nothing about the book ahead of time. From now until November I’m going to be reading as many paranormal type books as I can. I love this time of year. While I had no expectations about this book, it ended up being a real treat to read.

Chelsea wants to go to her brother’s wedding. She was excited about it when she was alive, and it’s even more important to her now that she is dead. Unfortunately, ghosts can’t ride in planes or cars so Chelsea has to make it from NYC to California by walking. Her ghostly mentor and her human friend (who can see ghosts) decide to make the long cross country trip with Chelsea. Can the three friends make it in time for the wedding?

The premise seems a little out there, and it is, but this story is so well done. The diverse cast includes a wonderful mix of LGBTQ and het characters. Each character is fully fleshed out, even the dead ones, and you feel such a connection to them all. The human friend who is a mime is also mute. This is the third book I have read in maybe 45 days that has used American Sign Language. It’s so nice to see in books and I hope this becomes more the norm.

This book was much more introspective that I expected. And I think the heart of the book is about the strong friendship of these three women. This book has all the feels. From scary moments with the dangers of being on the road, to exciting moments with other ghosts, to happy and sad moments that make you cry and laugh in equal measure. This book even had the cutest damn cat of all time.

This is not an easy book to explain because it is so different but it’s well written and just well done period. I have been complaining about not being wowed too much lately in books, this book wowed and absolutely impressed me. If you want a book that will make you think, will make you laugh and cry and want to go hug your loved ones, this is that book. I hope more people will give this read a chance; it’s too good not to.
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I requested this book basing on description, because I wanted some not too long, light and easy novel to read while awaiting big releases. Somethin that won't engage me emotionally. And I got a bittersweet novel with three unremarkable characters and a cat (I love when cats are aknowledged, they rarely are). It was easy, it was light, but it was also very emotional and I had a great time reading it! There's so much about friendship there and about people who can bond with each other through laugh and through pain. I have to say I'm gonna miss them and I am a little sad that this is the end.
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I don't know what happened. The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus, by Alanna McFall, seems to be extremely well loved on Goodreads, but I found it so boring, I had to DNF it at 42% (and I did try to get to at least half of it, not to speak of how hard it is for me to DNF a book in the first place).⁠
There is nothing inherently bad or wrong with this book. It is incredibly diverse, full of strong, complex female characters, and portrays friendship and love in a beautiful way. However, the plot was not strong enough to hold my attention for long, and I ended up bored, always checking which page I was on to see how close I was to finishing it.⁠ 

I don't know how this book ends, and the fact that it doesn't bother me is very telling. But I'm glad so many people loved it, and I can see how such a heartwarming story could jump to some people's top reads.
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