Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Circus of Wonders, by Elizabeth Macneal {ends 2/9}

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

One day Toby and I’ll own a troupe, and she’ll be in the center of it,” Jasper said, and at that his brother brightened.

“We’ll ride in on camels,” Toby added. “In red capes.”

“I’ll build Stella a swing or a tightrope,” Jasper said.

“Not if I marry her first,” Dash said, biting hard into a bottled plum, wounding the soft red flesh.

“Don’t be absurd,” Jasper said, and laughed. “Marry her!”

He broke off when Stella walked toward them. Jasper reached out his hand, but she ducked away,  settled herself under Dash’s arm as if she belonged there. He leaned over and kissed her forehead. It was a gesture of such tenderness that Jasper had to look away.

The relationships and stories of the characters in this book were often more than they seemed at first glance. The ties of friends and family were respected and earned.

Official synopsis:
Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Circus of Wonders, by Elizabeth Macneal {ends 2/9}
Step up, step up! In 1860s England, circus mania is sweeping the nation. Crowds jostle for a glimpse of the lion-tamers, the dazzling trapeze artists and, most thrilling of all, the so-called “human wonders.”

When Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders pitches its tent in a poor coastal town, the life of one young girl changes forever. Sold to the ringmaster as a “leopard girl” because of the birthmarks that cover her body, Nell is utterly devastated. But as she grows close to the other performers, she finds herself enchanted by the glittering freedom of the circus, and by her own role as the Queen of the Moon and Stars.

Before long, Nell’s fame spreads across the world—and with it, a chance for Jasper Jupiter to grow his own name and fortune. But what happens when her fame begins to eclipse his own, when even Jasper’s loyal brother Toby becomes captivated by Nell? No longer the quiet flower-picker, Nell knows her own place in the world, and she will fight for it.

When Nell is just a child, she is unwillingly sold to the circus by her family, and spends days devastated that no one is following or trying to rescue her. Soon, she decides that she must be on her own, and the rest of the performers really don’t look too miserable. With a change of heart, success is at her fingertips. While whole books have been built around this part of the circus, this book had even more.

All the handbills gush about the fabulous circus as Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders, but Nell wonders about Jasper’s quiet brother, who she first noticed before she was even sold to the circus. Jasper and Toby apparently had a whole life before the circus. They were part of a family with its own issues, and then they were part of the Crimean War. These events perhaps made up more of their personalities and loyalties than their lives with the circus.

While the circus was the first feature that made this book intriguing, as the family drama is revealed more and more, the book becomes much more complex. Overall, I’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It told of the whole lives of the brothers, and then the lives they inspired in others. The characters had interesting stories of being true to themselves, and the responsibilities of how one persons’ choices may change the life of someone else. I’d recommend this book for those who like circus stories or late-1800s family dramas.

{click here to purchase}

Becki Bayley is an introvert who lives a quiet afternoon with a good book and some snacks. See more of what she’s reading on her blog,


Two of my lucky readers will win a copy of Circus of Wonders!

Enter via the widget below. Giveaway will end on Wednesday, February 9th, at 11:59pm EST, and winners will be chosen the next day and notified via email, and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner(s) will be chosen.

U.S. residents only, please.

Good luck!

Circus of Wonders, by Elizabeth Macneal


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