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Showtime by Chloe Kayne
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This is actually surprisingly good. I actually dislike anything about the circus but this book really caught my attention. It kinda gave me an insight about life in a circus, the insecurities and the people surrounding it. The main character falling in love with the dangerous one kinda caught my eye cause I'm a sucker for romance at the wrong place and at the wrong time. The conflicts and mystery surrounding them is absolutely appealing. Bravo! ( )
  Selina.Marie.Liaw | Aug 2, 2013 |
If there is one thing that frustrates me to the point of hair-pulling as a reader, it’s spotting a book’s potential. More specifically, it’s when I clearly see what needs editing and revising in order for the story to improve. In some instances, I have discovered books that are enjoyable yet leave room for more development. Books where the backdrop is solid, writing is fluid, the plot is well-crafted, and characters have layers to peel. The stories and their characters show believability as the writing displays cohesiveness, nicely bundled for readers to delight in. They may not display tact and skill of literary prowess, but they are well-written and—as they should be— gratifying. Showtime, unfortunately, is not one of these books. It’s an immense disappointment in need of hefty revision if Chloe Kayne wishes to show respectable writing.

Self-published or not, a book’s presentation speaks volumes about the author. I’m not talking about the cover design or any aesthetic appeal; I’m talking about mechanics. While typing errors happen, even to the best of writers, one missed mishap cannot compare to a stream of improper grammar and punctuation. Proofread! This is where editors can make and suggest great changes, and if a writer is capable, the story can alter drastically—and for the better. When dealing with the final product, the story should be polished and developed. What Kayne has to offer her readers, however, more closely resembles a draft. I have laid down my technical complaints, but my real issue takes root in Chloe Kayne’s method and approach.

Showtime follows Laila Vilonia as she leaves behind a grim life and unpromising future by beginning anew at Marvelle Circus. In exchange for food, clothes, and a place to call home, Laila starts her new life as a Marvelle laundress, eventually finding her spot among friends and the circus hierarchy. What lacks is a plot, and I wonder what kind of story the author wants to convey. Without any build-up or climax and scant conflict, Showtime readers sit through teen gossip and melodrama between Laila and her friends. As a result, the entire story suffers as small issues become drawn out and each chapter lags. When conflict does arise, it is often insignificant and squashed down almost as quickly as it appears.

As much as the failed direction of Showtime’s course disappoints me, Mary Sue-like elements baffle and bore me. Laila Vilonia is not without personality flaws, yet her mistakes are always forgiven and her faults feel superficially explored. I cannot believe the guilt that plagues Laila for leaving her mother, because I see no authenticity in her character. Miss Vilonia leaps out from Going Nowheresville to become a sought-after leading star, and I question: why? She encounters few obstacles to overcome, and what struggles she does face—both internal and external forces—are pardoned or swatted down like pesky gnats. The “problems,” then, aren’t really problems, and they don’t aid story development or character growth. No growth, in fact, sprouts from Laila’s “journey,” and I feel the prominent lack of true conflict and resolution are culprits.

I also must question the purpose of several characters and their relation to Kayne’s protagonist. Like Sean, for example: the boy from chapter one who holds a “surprising amount of concern” in his voice for Laila. Or Ryan, Dex’s roommate? I don’t see a need for their introduction, or at least for the amount of detail regarding an attraction for the main character if it leads nowhere. Not only does she have several boys pining, but Laila's talents catch the eyes of enemies. I must say, the villains prove unconvincing in their villain-esque roles. Benelli and his men—part of a rival circus—feel exploited in their immoral traits and thus fail to bring a real sense of danger. Laila’s circus rival, on the other hand, is nothing more than a Queen Bee with nasty tricks up her sleeve. She, too, poses no threat.

After trudging through every page, this is not a book I recommend. That does not make Showtime something you crumple in your hands, toss it on the ground and grind it into cement with the heel of your shoe. It needs refinement and research, but it’s not trash. For goodness sake: I see the faintest inkling of potential in Chloe Kayne’s words. Although mingled in errors, ill-choice diction, and clunky adjective-abuse, there are some pleasant lines that show me the author is capable. A few pretty lines, unfortunately, are not enough to make up for a whole story’s worth of lackluster plot and flat characters.

Thank you to the author, Chloe Kayne, who provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review and more can be read at Midnight Coffee Monster.
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  the_airtwit | May 19, 2013 |
Ever since reading a few other books that take place at a circus, Like Water for Elephants and Night Circus, I have really wanted to read Showtime. I totally enjoyed this book and am so happy to discover that there are going to be 2 more!
The book does start a bit abruptly for me. I almost thought I was missing the first few pages, but I kept reading and eventually the story evened out and more background info came out on the characters.
I love the setting, the descriptions of life in a train carriage and the characters in this book.
Laila jumps at the chance to become a member of a traveling circus in order to escape a bad home life. After successfully working in the laundry and then passing exams, we finally get to find out what role Laila will play in the circus. Meanwhile, she becomes interested in one of the sideshow workers with a dark past that no one wants to talk about.
Reading the description of the book, we are told that it does take place in 1918. There were very few references to this time frame and I would love to see more of this time period featured in future books. Also, Laila talks about her guilt at leaving her mom. It left me thinking that although she had a difficult upbringing, her mom tried the best she could in her circumstances, however, when we finally meet Laila's mom she is a total monster and that was bit misleading.
However, I admit, I devoured this book and really can't wait to read more! This was described as a young adult book, but I enjoyed it just as much. Well done and recommended!
I received a complimentary e-book from the author for an honest review. ( )
  melaniehope | Jan 24, 2013 |
The book begins with a CRACK and continues to churn out one surprise after another. This story is easily intriguing enough that you will want to read it cover to cover in one sitting.

We meet Laila, the central character, in the opening scenes. Things don't unfold as she expects them to, bringing us to possibly the largest of the many decisions she will be faced with, and giving us a glimpse of Laila's particular brand of innocence and naïveté in the process.

The scenes shift to follow Laila, from making that first fateful decision, to a series of choices over time, that ultimately lead to a stunningly, unexpected, conclusion.

Laila makes new friends fairly quickly, and her life seems, for a time, idyllic. She quickly becomes close with her bunk mates, as well as a young man that has managed to catch the eye of just about every girl around. Yet as far as we can tell, Laila only sees him as a friend. Instead her interest is instantly caught by an unusual looking young man she notices on the fringes of her 'world'.

Throughout the book Laila gets repeated warnings about other people, yet she refuses to condemn them based upon rumors. Yet as more and more of those warnings turn out to be justified, she stubbornly refuses to listen to the loudest, most insistent warning about the boy she is infatuated with.

With one sweeping pronouncement things coming to a boiling head, unleashing all kinds of havoc on Laila and her friends. To avoid any spoilers I leave you with that titillating bit of knowledge.

This book is well written, and entertaining. Only a few times did I feel that the story had slipped into more modern times, and therefore the attitudes and mores of today were being superimposed over those of 1918, which is when the story takes place. Aside from those few slips I thought this was an enjoyable book, full of the emotional highs and lows, similar to those that come with adolescence, or from performing before thousands, not too mention the thrills and chills that accompany any good mystery. ( )
  Isisunit | Jan 3, 2013 |
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