By A Charm And A Curse by Jaime Questell | ARC Review

 

BY A CHARM AND A CURSE BY JAIME QUESTELL

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publication Date: February 6th 2018

Synopsis:
Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.

Goodreads | Amazon | Entangled

 

Leslie smiles at the girl with a mixture of pride and tentative hope. “It took us a few days to get Sidney set up somewhere else, and I’m sorry about that. But this wagon belongs to the occupant of the box.” Leslie strokes the side of the ladder that leads to the door. “What you’re going through is terrible, we know it is, though we can never truly understand. It’s a small comfort, but we want you to have a place that’s just your own, a place that you can use to escape.”

A weak, wobbly smile lifts the corners of the girl’s mouth as her gaze roves over the outside of the wagon, a shadow of the smile I saw the other night, when she was with her friend. I wonder what it would take to get her to smile for real.

“What about Sidney?”

“Sidney can make do.” Leslie’s smile broadens into a grin. “Have you seen the way he’s been eating? I wouldn’t be surprised to see him waddle out of the cook shack one of these mornings like Templeton the Rat.” She dangles a small copper key from the end of a length of faded red ribbon. “It’s like I said—the carnival owes the person in the box. This is the least we can do for you in return.”

The girl’s hand shakes as she reaches for the key, and she wraps her slender fingers around it tightly, as though she’s afraid of dropping it. I lose sight of her as she steps inside, and all I can do now is hope she likes the wagon.

I turn to head home and feel the sickening lurch as my foot lands in a slick patch of mud and whips out from beneath me. I throw out my arm. A flash of white-hot pain flares through my hand, but I manage to keep my footing. I step out of the mud that had nearly sent me sprawling on my ass, unsure as to how I even missed it in the first place. Then my hand begins to throb.

A gash runs diagonally across my palm. Blood wells from the wound, filling my cupped hand. The pain sets in, a deep pulsing starting in my palm and radiating up my arm. I glance over at the trailer and see a splash of red smeared along a sharp flap of metal. I must have sliced my hand on that as I tried to grab onto something to keep from slipping.

Falling on carnival grounds doesn’t happen; the charm sees to that. But my bloodied hand begs to differ.

 

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 *I would like to thank Entangled Publishing greatly for the opportunity to read this book!*

It seems like the past year carnival books have been all the rage. I find them absolutely intriguing and think they are filled with so much magic. But for some reason this was the first carnival book I read in completion. I am beyond happy that I was given the chance to review this book because I needed it in my life! This book was the perfect combination of magic, mystery, characters filled with personality and childhood vibes!

At the beginning I thought this might be inspired from Pinocchio and was getting some major flashbacks to the movie BIG. By A Charm And A Curse was so much different then I expected and found the mystery behind the charm and the curse to be so interesting. Questell really painted a detailed picture of carnival life and the ties that bind so to speak of those individuals who make up the unique performers of the carnival. The characters were full of personality and their own little quirks. I found the whole love aspect a little too fairy tale for me with the whole curse, but enjoyed the story behind the charm and curse associated with Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic.

I enjoyed that this books was driven by the characters and their personal development and growth. Sometimes when there is the background of a carnival or something like it, I feel like it is sometimes easy for the author to focus on that event or element too heavily. Not that I do not enjoy world building or magic around things such as a carnival, but I absolutely hate when the characters are flat and stagnant. I have to admit at the beginning I was annoyed with Emma as a character, yeah a lot of horrible stuff happened but she was so whiney. I loved seeing her evolve throughout the story and was her biggest fan at the end of the book. I was a fan of Ben from the beginning and adored him all the way through. He was perfect and what every girl dreams of when in search of a love interest. It was nice to see that despite what happens to Emma he doesn’t see her as different and fights like crazy for her. There were some other characters that I quite enjoyed, but really wish more time was spent on some of them. I wanted to know more and learn more about them and their background.

Overall, Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic is a carnival I would want to runaway to a be a part of! They were such a family, they cared and defended one another. It was unique and magical. There were some issue with the story, I would have loved more details about the carnival instead of such a heavy focus on the romance. Because of that the plot fell flat at time, but I still found it to be an enjoyable read and has made me want to pick up more carnival focused books!

About Jaime Questell:

JAIME QUESTELL grew up in Houston, Texas, where she escaped the heat and humidity by diving into stacks of Baby Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High books. She has been a book seller (fair warning: book lovers who become book sellers will give half their paychecks right back to their employers), a professional knitter, a semi-professional baker, and now works as a graphic designer in addition to writing.

 

Author Links:

Author Website: jaimequestell.com

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaimequestell/

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jaimequestell

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15396319.Jaime_Questell

Newsletter: http://jaimequestell.com/events/

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By A Charm And A Curse By Jaime Questell | Author Interview

BY A CHARM AND A CURSE BY JAIME QUESTELL

Synopsis:

Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.

Release Date: February 6th 2018  Amazon| Barnes & Noble 

INTERVIEW WITH JAIME

– Top 5 Things readers need to know about the book
1. This is my first novel published, but my third novel written.
2. I have four fabulous critique partners and this novel wouldn’t exist without them
3. This novel also wouldn’t exist without support from my family (seriously, it takes a village)
4. Leslie and Lars are kind of based on Leslie Knope (if Leslie were jaded after having lived for decades and decades) and Ron Swanson
5. Yes, Mrs. Potter totally go her name when I was stumped for a surname and happened to glance up and see my Harry Potter novels on my bookshelf
– Who/What was your inspiration for becoming a writer? How long have you been writing?
This will probably sound cheesy as all get out, but my best friend, Jeylan. She was writing a novel and when I told her that I was, too, she basically withheld her novel until I showed her mine. It sounds so cruel when I write it out, but if I hadn’t traded manuscripts with her, there’s a good chance CHARM would never have made it to this point. 
– Which of your characters would you say you are most like?
I like to think I’m like Leslie, willing to make tough choices and something of a caretaker. But probably I’m also (at least a little bit) Whiskey, who lives life like she doesn’t owe anything to anyone.
– What (if anything) was your inspiration behind By A Charm And A Curse?
I first had an image of a girl falling from a great height while listening to Coin-Operated Boy by the Dresden Dolls, and I wrote a short story (what’s now chapter three, essentially) in one day while listening to that song on repeat. But as it grew into a novel, I was inspired by fairy tales and I wanted to try to invoke some of the same feelings a person has when they read those kinds of stories. 
– If your book was to be turned into a movie who would you cast as your leads?
Taron Egerton for Ben and Kara Hayward for Emma. 🙂
 
– Did you have to research anything for your book?
I did! First I looked up vintage photos of circuses and carnivals, because I wanted LeGrand’s to feel like it had been around for ages. I also wanted inspiration for acts there would be in the carnival. Marcel is a knife thrower because of some of the fantastic pictures I found, and once I found a photo of a small girl (four or five) standing bareback on a horse, I knew I needed equestrians. There were a few things that didn’t make it; I really wanted to feature fire eaters more than what’s currently in there. And I also looked up circus jargon so I could pepper those in to make everything more grounded in reality. 
– In 5 words how would you describe By A Charm And A Curse?
Cursed kisses and real-life magic.
– Which Hogwarts house would your main character be in?
Emma is a Slytherin, with a little bit of Gryffindor mixed in, but Ben is ALL Hufflepuff. 
– What’s on your playlist? Does the music go with your book?
Music is super important to me when I write. Whenever I wrote Emma, I listened to this band called Kitten, their song Johnny, Johnny, Johnny in particular. And for Ben, it was The Rubens and their song Elvis. When I needed to capture the feel of the carnival in general, I’d go back to Coin-Operated Boy or Rasputina’s cover of Rock and Roll.

– There were a lot of awesome performers in Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic, what would be your act if you were part of the carnival?
Um, so I’d really, really, really want to be a performer in a sparkly costume, but I know I’m uncoordinated and I’m better off slinging fried foods. 😀

Meet the Author: 

Website: jaimequestell.com
Twitter : @JaimeQuestell
Instagram: @JaimeQuestell
Goodreads

 

Friday Reads | The Beginning of the End

downthebookhole

This is the beginning of the end of the year. There are just a few years left in the year and I want to finish off the year strong. I have been blowing through books this month in multiple different formats. Audiobooks have become a big part of my reading lately and if I wasn’t out of audiobook requests from the library I would be starting Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry, which is the 2nd book in her Thunder Road series! I started By A Charm And A Curse by Jamie Questell last night and I could not put it down. I feel like there has been a huge increase in the carnival/circus themed books lately and I thought I should get on the bandwagon. I am about 50 pages in and getting a total Pinocchio vibe, which is awesome. I have also been reading The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur. I feel very much the same way about this one as I did with Milk and Honey by Kaur. There are poems that I really connect with and resonate with emotionally and there are others that are just meh. I am hoping to finish both of these books this weekend! And if I do finish these 2 this week that will make 8 books read in November !

What are you reading this weekend?