Tag Archives: circus

Review: Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond

Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond

Girl on a Wire (Cirque American #1)
Gwenda Bond
Published October 1, 2014

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About Girl on a Wire

Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies.

Jules ignores the drama and focuses on the wire, skyrocketing to fame as the girl in a red tutu who dances across the wire at death-defying heights. But when she discovers a peacock feather—an infamous object of bad luck—planted on her costume, Jules nearly loses her footing. She has no choice but to seek help from the unlikeliest of people: Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia clan matriarch and the best trapeze artist in the Cirque.

As more mysterious talismans believed to possess unlucky magic appear, Jules and Remy unite to find the culprit. And if they don’t figure out what’s going on soon, Jules may be the first Maroni to do the unthinkable: fall.

My Review

So I guess it’s been more than four years since I read the companion novel to this one, and when I reread my review, I said it would be smarter to read this one first so you didn’t get any spoilers. Fortunately for me, my reading brain is so porous that I have zero memory of anything that I read in GIRL IN THE SHADOWS that might have spoiled GIRL ON A WIRE for me. (In fact, I kind of want to go back and reread it to see what happens to Jules and Remy after this story ends.)

First of all, I loved the circus setting. It felt live and exciting and full of adrenaline and I had no trouble picturing the scenes or imagining the smells and sounds of the circus performances.

I thought the nod to the story of Romeo and Juliet was fun and sweet– Remy’s full name is apparently Romeo and Jules’s is Julieta, and they’re from families with a long history of rivalry and distrust. I enjoyed the mystery and suspense as they learned how to trust each other and work together to figure out who was trying to sabotage Jules and her family.

I thought the story was a really fun adventure to read and a nice escape from reality. I’m only sorry it took me so long to read it!

You can check out my review of the companion novel, GIRL IN THE SHADOWS here.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Jules and her family are Italian Americans. Remy and his family are Latinx Americans.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used once.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. Jules wonders about sex and how to know when she’s ready for that kind of intimacy in a relationship.

Spiritual Content
Jules’s grandmother reads Tarot cards and believes she can perform magic. She also believes that certain artifacts contain a kind of bad luck curse that will hurt anyone connected with them. One item contains good luck for whoever possesses it.

Violent Content
Two boys square off to fight. A performer is killed in an accident during a performance.

Drug Content
Jules (and other performers) drinks champagne to celebrate her success.

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Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

The Vine Witch
Luanne G. Smith
Published October 1, 2019

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About The Vine Witch

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

My Review

It’s not often that I read a book set in turn-of-the-century France, and I feel like I’m okay with that, but if I’d read more, I think I would have enjoyed the setting of this book more. I liked it, I just felt like it was written more for readers who are already familiar with that type of setting and was kind of spare on details that unfamiliar readers might want to have.

I liked Elena immediately, and Jean-Paul, too. The story alternates back and forth in their points of view. It was fun watching them feel each other out. I thought the other characters– Elena’s grandmother, her former fiancé, and the Elena’s unlikely ally later in the book– were all great characters that added a lot to the story.

In terms of the plot, the story moves pretty quickly. The beginning was a little dense and confusing only because it introduces a lot of characters, goals, and action. Once I’d read four or five chapters, I got pretty hooked on the story and didn’t want to stop reading. I finished the rest of the book that day.

On the whole, I enjoyed THE VINE WITCH. I loved the parts about the vineyard and the tug-of-war between Elena and Jean-Paul over magic versus science. I feel like I wanted the story to be like 50 pages longer so that I could read more about some of the subplots like that.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 18 up.

All characters are European.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used very infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
References to sex. Kissing between man and woman.

Spiritual Content
Descriptions of rituals and spells, including using pentagrams and summoning a demon. One character encounters a jinni.

Violent Content
References to mutilated animals found near the town. Descriptions of torture and situations of peril.

Drug Content
Elena experiments with poisons. Characters (all adults) drink wine.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog. I received a free copy of THE VINE WITCH in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond

Girl in the Shadows
Gwenda Bond
Skyscape / Amazon

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Moira longs to prove to her father, a famous magician, that she has what it takes to carry on in the family tradition. The real problem? Moira’s dad doesn’t want her anywhere near magic. An invitation to audition for the Cirque American falls into Moira’s hands, and she leaps at the chance to make her own destiny. During her audition, Moira’s routine goes awry when she accidentally performs real magic. Suddenly Moira finds herself surrounded with questions about her impossible abilities and a secret society of similarly the similarly talented. Her absent mother seems to be the only one who can answer them, but finding her mother opens Moira to more danger than she could ever imagine. Her newfound Cirque family may be filled with as many enemies as allies.

My one regret in reading this book is that I didn’t read Girl on a Wire first, as the stories are pretty closely linked and feature some of the same characters. Also, Girl in the Shadows includes a bit of plot recap which reveals some key moments in Girl on a Wire. Honestly, I’d still read Girl on a Wire anyway, even though some of the surprises are spoiled.

I liked Moira. She’s fun and silly and has a lot of heart. It’s her heart which often makes her vulnerable to others, and I spent many pages biting my nails hoping for the characters in whom she places her trust to turn out deserving of it.

The descriptions of Moira’s performances make for cool elements. Often Moira connects her illusions to great female magicians. It made an interesting way to include some real historical information in an organic, unusual way. Her use of Dez as her assistant was another fun twist – sort of a feminist spin on the typical gender roles of magician and assistant.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. If you haven’t read Girl on a Wire, I do recommend you read that one first because Girl in the Shadows has some spoilers. See below for additional content information.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Moira and Dez become romantically involved, and they engage in quite a bit of kissing. They spend several nights together, but other than a hint from Moira that the two did enough, though not everything, those moments remain private. At one point Moira makes it clear she’d like to have sex with him and it appears they do. Again, no description, but rather suggested that kissing moves to touching and on from there.

Spiritual Content
Moira learns of a missing coin that promises luck and power to its bearer. A secret society of people with magical abilities desperately want the coin for its power. Moira describes her power as a cup filled with magic. As she expends energy to perform magic, the volume in the cup lowers. She’s told that if she empties her cup, she’ll die.

Violent Content
Moira meets a creepy guy hanging around playing poker with some of the circus members. At one point he beats up one of the performers. In another instance, she witnesses him smash a boy’s hand with a hammer as punishment when he fails to complete a task on time.

Drug Content
Eighteen year-old Moira drinks champagne to celebrate her success.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.