Saturday, June 15, 2019

Top 3 Show-Stopping Books (Laurie)

I'm afraid I haven't been very in touch with Lands Uncharted lately, but I promise I have a good reason - three weeks ago I had a baby! A beautiful little girl, and we're both doing great :) As I start to crawl out of the I'm-up-with-a-newborn-every-night fog, I wanted to point out that a lot has happened in my absence! In case you missed it, we sadly said goodbye to our friend KaLyn, who is stepping down from Lands Uncharted to free up time for other writing pursuits. We'll miss you, KaLyn! Make sure to checkout her fun, witty farewell post, which you can find here. (And did you know KaLyn's debut middle grade fantasy novel, Snow Globe Travelers: Samuel's Legacy, released in April?)

The good news is that we also got to welcome a new contributor to the blog last week! I've been a huge fan of Katie Clark's for years, and more recently I've had the opportunity to get to know her as a friend. I'm thrilled to have her joining us at Lands Uncharted, and I know you'll enjoy her wisdom, writing insights, and sense of humor. Her first post is here if you haven't had a chance to read it yet, and you can find out more about her on her bio or website as well. Welcome, Katie!!

Now, onto the show-stopping books I promised, which are actually all books based on a circus / theater or other show :) By coincidence I've read quite a few of these performance-centered books lately, so of course I felt inspired to do a Top 3s post!

3. Heart of the Curiosity by H.L. Burke

I recently had the opportunity to read an advance copy of H.L. Burke's latest novel, which releases on June 27th! In addition to her signature wit, fun characters, and sweet romance, this story features a legendary theater and a magic system in which everyone is born with a "knack" - some kind of small magical ability such as fixing books or baking with just the right flavors. While I wish we could've experienced a Curiosity performance at its peak (things were starting to go downhill by the time a show was described), I still loved the depictions of the grand old theater and imagining what it would be like to see a show involving magical enhancements like dancers who can levitate and special effects from a propmaster with a knack for invention. Plus, the structure and family traditions of the Curiosity made it so much more than your run-of-the-mill theater.

2. The Electrical Menagerie by Mollie E. Reeder

I've already talked about this book once (in my Top 3 Man-Made Characters post) and I'll be posting about it again, but it was just one of those unique stories that keeps coming to mind! Apparently steampunk is a genre that lends itself well to stories about cool shows, because both this book and Heart of the Curiosity fall into that category. Carthage and Huxley's Electrical Menagerie show is an amazing combination of illusion and creative inventions by Carthage, which I so wish I could see in real life! The descriptions are so rich and vivid, especially coming from Cathage's perspective as the entertainer, and I loved everything from the showmanship to the incredible details he worked into his performances. Carthage and Huxley's show is part of a competition, so a bonus of this book was getting to hear about the other competing shows as well, including a superb illusionist and flying horses. Great fuel for the imagination!

1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The lush narrative of this book made me feel like I was actually a part of the Night Circus, which made it an unforgettable read. Every sight, sound, and smell, plus the overall ambiance came together to bring the show to life, with a wide variety of acts and fun hints of magic and mystery. As the two rival stars of the Night Circus competed to best each other in their work, the stakes and impressiveness of the spectacles just kept rising. And I loved the complexity of the characters and the way their stories wove together. I'll admit that typical circuses have never held that much appeal for me, but the vision of the Night Circus was something entirely different, with a sophistication and uniqueness that made me want to visit again the moment I finished reading. (P.S. If you like audiobooks, Jim Dale does a fantastic job narrating this one!)

I'll give a shout-out to The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof, a historical romance that takes place at a circus and happens to be my current read :) It's not quite as magical an experience since it isn't a fantasy book, but I am enjoying the inside look at the community of performers and the depiction of the lion-taming act was very fun. It so happens that the audiobook of Caraval I've been waiting for from the library just arrived, so it seems my streak of show-based books will continue a bit longer!

Have you read any books based around a circus, theater, or other show? Have there been any common elements in the books you've been reading lately?

See you next time!


  1. Great choices, Laurie! I haven’t read them yet, but they’re definitely attention grabbing with those gorgeous covers and intriguing storylines. Glad you and the little one are doing well. And thanks for the shout-out. Miss y’all too! :)

  2. Those sounds good. I loved Disney's Toby Tyler when I was growing up, but I've never read a book set in a circus.


Please note that your comment hasn't gone through unless you see the notice: "Your comment will be visible after approval." We apologize for any difficulties posting comments or delays in moderation.