The grandeur of the traveling circus is at its peak in the early s when sixteenyearold Laila Vilonia is searching for an escape from her bleak future Behind the gates of the legendary Marvelle Circus, she is thrust into a mysterious world she never knew existed—a paradise populated with outcasts It’s in this glamorous new home that Laila sparks a controversial romance with notorious sideshow performer, The Disappearing Man, and learns just how dangerous her new life can be Touring the picturesque eastern coast of America, Laila’s immersed in friendship, vaudeville, festivals, sequins, and serial killers But behind the curtain, a sadistic plan is brewing that will crack the very foundation upon which she’s become so dependent Overall, 3.5 StarsWhat I did like about this book:0 It came to me free from Goodreads Giveaways!1 The characters all had interesting and diverse back stories Laila, herself, was the progeny of a prostitute, though her parents did fall in love Her father attempted to commit suicide when she was 8 years old, and failed, leaving himself mentally crippled in an asylum Her mother raised her in a brothel, where she continued to work as a prostitute to pay her husband's way in the asylum 2 The romantic interest, Dex He may have been a bit overly violent towards others who he saw as a real threat, but he had self control, and he never ever did anything to make me think he was a danger to Laila In fact, her friend's insistence that he was a danger to her, started bordering on the annoying He clearly cared for her, and wanted only for her to be safe in a world that she was too innocent to navigate well.3 The various twists, and moments that made me say Oh! The appearance of Seth (though why had none of her friends mentioned that detail?!), for one There wereminor moments of the same sort, where I was left with an eyebrow raised because I had simply not seen it coming.What I didn't like about this book:1 The incredibly fascinating and diverse background stories often didn't seem to realistically have affected the characters at all Laila may only be 15 or 16, but she lived in a brothel, for Gods' sake She should be able to at least sort of defend herself I do like that she was able to hang onto some of her innocence, but at the same rate, watching your father shoot himself, and then being raised in a brothel, in 1919 or so? Her innocence should have been broken a lotthan it was There was a big disconnect between the character that Laila's back story would have made her be and the character that Laila actually was.2 The romantic interest, Dex Laila's been warned off, again and again by her friends who have known him for way longer than she has He's a fucking flake, and he ends up being given way too many chances I had a love/hate relationship with him during the entire book He did border on the violent asshole romantic character that's become popular because of Twilight, that I hate so much However, I do believe that line was walked well.3 That last twist about why everyone at the circus is afraid of Dex and Seth I understand the parallel, that Laila lied about her past, and that Dex did as well However, someone tells me something like that, that does prove his violence and ability to really, really, really, hurt people, I have some followup questions Laila lied, but then there was an explanation Dex may have a goodish (there's really no good explanation) explanation for what happened, but Laila doesn't even ask She even says that she still trusts him and it seems as though she simply doesn't care She should Honestly, the book lost a whole star here, it just really, really rubbed me the wrong way.I am very much so looking forward to the second book, maybe it'll explain the Dex and Seth situation that bothers me so greatly I am also looking forward to seeing what Chloe Kayne can do as her writing style matures a bit This was obviously a first novel, the phrasing was a bit on the awkward side, and it felt unpolished (though I do have an ARC copy); the big allout fights/brawls were made hard to follow. NOPE I cannot even with this unedited, unresearched, unrealistic, unreadable piece of nonsense I knew what this was ten percent in, but I finished it out of spite But UGH to these undistinguishable characters, this vacuous excuse for a main character, this Mary Sue story disguised by a vaguely intriguing synopsis But there is so much wrong here The strange preoccupation with school exams despite being in a traveling circus in the early 1900s? Running water in a train? Unrealistic interactions between ANYONE? Characters doing absolute about faces in their motivations with absolutely no explanation? Flat, unimaginative villains? And don't even get me started on the Mary Sue qualities in the main character and the cookie cutter bad boy excuse for a love interest And maybe my inner Veronica FitzOsborne is coming out, but I do not understand how you can set a novel in 1918 and not mention WWI once And the lack of editing is appalling sentences straight up missing words, the incorrect 'its'than once? Avoid AVOID. The good, the bad, and the ugly with a tip of the hat to the movie by the same name First off, two disclaimers: The author offered me a free copy for a honest review; however, I actually purchased a copy I didn't receive a free copy, but this is my honest review The second disclaimer is that I am not prejudiced against selfpublished authors Many very famous authors (Mark Twain, Carl Sandburg, Virginia Woolf, Beatrix Potter to name but a few) and books (The Celestine Prophecy by Redfield, Ulysses by Joyce to name a few) have been selfpublished and are considered excellent reads In fact, I know a few selfpublished authors and am impressed by their works.Okay, having added my disclaimers, here goes.The good: It is a unique story especially considering the author's desire to explain the circus life of aerialists and her ability to do so It would have been a better book had she not assumed that everyone knows these apparatuses and how they work Most people don't Had she described the Spanish web and the lyra, it would have been a better book, and I think with her expertise in this, she could have accomplished it In other words, the story has potential, but not as it is written The bad: The editing was horrendous as words were used incorrectly, as well as in some cases the words were excessively repetitive (examples of the use of queue and eaterythere are other words for these) Other words that had homonyms were used incorrectly (passed/past, taut/taught as examples) and repeatedly at that In this day and age of Kindle, Nooks, and other ereaders, trust that the reader will notice what seems like incorrect word choice discrepancies and will look them up in their ereader dictionary to check it out because he/she want to understand (example of deluded versus alludedthey are not the same) Those reading with physical books might not look up every word that seems incorrect and will skip over a few of these, but eventually they will stop reading There were convoluted sentences everywhere, and many of them became silly if a person really looked at them.The ugly: Here's my conclusion: this book was edited (and if by an outsider editor, the author paid a pretty price for this and didn't get her money's worth, but if personally edited, then some other person who is good at proofing and editing should be asked to help in any future writing endeavor since a second or third set of eyes would be helpful), and further, that a person with a thesaurus used synonyms for words without looking at the nuances between the individual words This created not only issues within the story, but it also made the novel silly Younger readers might not get it, but those who have some vocabulary experience will The convoluted sentences made for many misplaced modifiers It would be better to make simpler constructed sentences than trying to put too much information into one in order to sounderudite because it doesn't work well In the future I hope (with book two) that the author decides to share her work with people that she trusts (perhaps a writers' group) prior to submitting it for publication If not in a writers' group, read the novel aloud to people who will give constructive feedback This will help hone your skills As a person I know says, A selfedited book is an unedited book If paying for editing, then the novel still needs to be looked at by the author to make sure that what is being presented postediting is what she really means to say Just because they changed the wording doesn't mean it has to stay that way. When you were younger, did you always dream of running away with the Circus? Me too! until I read Showtime.Let's start with the story lineLaila Vilonia is the protagonist in Showtime Right away she finds herself in a bad situation that she's in no way responsible for She ends up getting rescued by some roustabouts from the Marvelle Circus Lying about her dysfunctional past, desperate to leave it behind, she is taken in and looks forward to a chance at a new life Things start out well enough but a circus doesn't contain the most trustworthy people She does make some strong bonds with some of the other circus inhabitants as well as a few enemies Some of these enemies areobvious than others Danger is definitely waiting to pounce on Laila There is a love interest, the disappearing man, Dex She trusts him completely not heeding the warnings from her friends.This story is written in third person The details are so well written that I really felt like I was behind the scenes with Laila and her friends I could smell the circus around me and feel the air on my skin The author did a wonderful job at pulling me into the story I found it took me longer than normal to read this because I would wander off in my mind picturing the events going on around me My emotional investment to these characters was stronger than normal I didn't even realize how much until the last couple chapters when I was crying uncontrollably Crying from fear, anger, frustration, relief, sadness Ugh I don't usually cry Finding herself in the most dangerous situation one could find themselves, I felt like I was there, there with Dex, there with Seth and there was nothing I could do to help either! Here's an example of what I loved about this book Rather than a boring sentence like, Jodelle ran to the menagerie to find James, we getJodelle latched the gate of the menagerie closed behind her as Laila marched up toward the tiger enclosure Radbyrne strode up, brushing along the fencing as he passed, leaving clumps of orange fur on the wire Laila stuck her hand out and pet him as she walked by, coarse fur gliding beneath her palm.I enjoyed her humor alsoWell you're not going, are you?I am And if you wish to file a complaint, I'm accepting slips in the bin Laila motioned toward the silver trash bin stationed across the dining room.I could easily add another dozen quotes but I'll stop there.I look forward to reading future books about Laila, her friends, her enemies and the Marvelle Circus! I read this book for an Author Requested Review I hate when I have to tell a woman she has mustard on her face or lipstick on her teeth But I do it anyway to save her from further embarrassment Well, ahem, Chloe, you have just a littleright there.up higherhere, let me help youI enjoyed four aspects of this book: the beginning, the end, the idea, and the cover The ENTIRE time I was reading, I felt so frustrated by the repetitious syntax that I could hardly concentrate on the story at all Over, and over, and over again, the author followed the pattern of past tense, comma, participleor participle, comma, past tense:Drawing the wagon, Laila set off toward the arena, leaving the two bickering girls in her wake A cold breeze tickled her scalp, pulling wefts of her hair in the current Approaching the long set of doorways wrapping around the back of the arena, she started toward the first door beside the performer's queue A group of boys around her age exited the door of the queue, laughing as one recounted what must have been a thrilling tale The repetition didn't appear on only one page, but page, after page, after page It's unfortunate that the author didn't consider changing up her approach because she has a knack for description that is strangled and drowned by the structure of the sentences Changing this bad habit alone might make the story palatable.The story itself yanked me in with a violent act that left me wondering where the story would take me I was excited, but it took me nowhere Almost like a jet plane that rumbled down the airstrip, but never took flight The pace felt devastatingly slow, the romance was worse than a bad soap opera, and the characters were onedimensional and lacked believable motivations The author doesn't know how to use a semicolon, doesn't know that the past tense of ring is rang (NOT rung), and the past tense of sink is sank (NOT sunk) The author doesn't know the difference between past/passed, freehand/free hand, starring/staring, or into/in to The author has a knack for using figurative language, which makes it a SIN to use cliches such as organized chaos, spread like wildfire, longing like a tidal wave, and gazed like a lion to its prey And THEN, when Laila has a climactic moment during her first performance at the circus when she realizes she was BORN to be an aerialist, the author informs us that Laila felt herself Umm do you mean that she felt like herself? What a difference four letters makes I could continue, but I don't think it's necessary Readers, if you don't mind an unedited book, you like a little violence, and you're not particular about your romance, your plot, or your structure, you may like this book I mean, circuses and aerialists ARE pretty cool The great news is that ALL of the problems in part one of the Marvelle Circus series are easily remedied, so I'm sincerely hoping the author works out the kinks for her next book In fact, I didn't give this book a 1 star for the simple fact that I am willing to read the second book in the series, so I must not have hated it THAT much. A dark and eerily beautiful love story Love for a new life Love for belonging Love for new family And love that will make you run away with the circus.Lose yourself in a world of wonder and deceit as you get to know Laila Vilonia and her crew of misfits in the Marvelle Circus It's 1918 and Laila suddenly finds herself thrust into a world that demands hard work, strength, tenacity and that you always check over your shoulder.I absolutely love how author Chloe Kayne portrayed life in a traveling circus From the outside looking in, it is all glamour, beauty and the big white top But circus life is dark, mysterious almost haunting Kayne portrayed this so well in Showtime; giving it an edge and bitterness making the most spectacular show come alive.There were a few moments, where I felt the story lost its historical feel mainly through some of the dialogue of Laila and her friends However, being a YA novel, it is almost needed to convey the relationships between some of the characters You can actually understand and see the parallels of Inter relationships of current day teenagers and those of Laila and her crew in a world of love, jealousy and deceit.I so enjoyed how Kayne introduced us to this new series through her character development She invited us in just enough to get a keen sense of who these people were and where they had been but cloaked us in enough vagueness that book two (Spotlight) will be eagerly anticipated and a thrill to read This is a bit of a longer read, yet I never felt like it dragged on or there was too much monotony The story flowed and was well thought out and sequenced Stay tuned because the circus is coming to town again Enter the dark and look for the Spotlight Spotlight (Marvelle Circus #2) is set for release in 2014. I credit this book to getting me out of my reading funk Until this book came along I was reading Mary Higgins Clark and nothing else simply because it kept my mind busy, not because I was actually into the story And then came a period of not reading at all Until I came home to a package on my porch and unwrapped it to find a copy of this lovely novel The detail is extraordinary The circus and the characters come to life in this novel I was captivated by the romance between Laila and her Disappearing Man, her friendship with the animal trainer, and her spot in the show The details were genuine and unlike other period novels I never forgot that I was reading a book set in the 1920's I have always said that you know that you read a great book when the story sticks with you for days, weeks even, after reading it When you think about the characters as though they are real people and not characters in a novel I experience that feeling with Showtime I can't wait for the sequel to come out. I won a copy of this book in Elle Casey's 2013 January Anniversary Indie Book Giveaway.I thought the description sounded amazing, but this book wasn't really for me I can't speak to questions of realism or historical accuracy about circus life in 1918, so I'll just say it's clear that the author has a great passion for her subject matter! I can speak to other things: For one, the overlong, repetitive descriptions set a certain dreamlike tone, but I'm not sure whether the dreaminess was intentional It actually detracts from the plot because the descriptions tend to be so oddly placed (and paced) Every time I read a line such as she swept into view, cascading waves of chestnut hair whispering, or some variation thereof, it kicked me right out of the story And I was already having trouble caring about any of the characters in the first place.Another thing that kicked me out of the story was the use of certain words in incorrect ways Someone has alluded herself rather than deluded There is a conundrum of people rather than a large crowd Huh?This might be worth a read if you have a particular interest in circus stories, but probably not otherwise. Wow That was.amazing It was wonderful and vivid and it made me want to go to the circus so bad Can I have the next one right now? Please?