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High Stakes Paperback – April 1, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From the Author

Characters and stories come to me in the strangest ways. I once developed a story from the shape of a sweat stain on the back of a cyclist's jersey. (Really). But Jacob Maresbeth arrived while I was sleeping. Dreaming, actually. About watching television. I know--not riveting, really, is it? But after the commercial break, things got better. There on the screen was a sixteen-year-old boy doing his level best to avoid his weird aunt Sylvia so he could... well, drink blood. But before you think 'ah, another vampire tale,' let me assure you, Jake is far from undead. Suffering from a blood disorder tends to make life complicated. Eating blood instead of cheeseburgers tends to get you noticed. And not in a good way.

Welcome to the world of Jacob Maresbeth--from the back parlor of my subconscious TV room to the pages of HIGH STAKES!

About the Author

Author, historian, and adventurer at the intersection, Brandy Schillace (PhD) spends her time in the mist-shrouded alleyways between literature and medicine. Taking a cue from Edward Gorey and John Bellairs, she writes Gothic fiction with a medical twist. Her first series, The Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles, will be out spring 2014 with Cooperative Trade. Dr. Schillace is research associate at the Dittrick Museum of Medical History, managing editor of Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, book reviewer for the Huffington Post, and chief editor for the Fiction Reboot and Daily Dose blog. She helps develop medical humanities curriculum for the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College and teaches for Case Western Reserve University's SAGES program. Her non-fiction book, Death's Summer Coat: What the History of Death and Dying can Tell us about Life and Living, will be released in 2015 with Elliott and Thompson.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 142 pages
  • Publisher: Cooperative Press (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937513440
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937513443
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,327,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Author and historian, Brandy Schillace spends her time in the mist-shrouded alleyways between literature and medicine, history and fiction.

Growing up in an underground house in abandoned coal mining territory near a cemetery does things to you...like convince you to get a PhD. It also encourages a particular brand of fictive output. Taking a cue from Edward Gorey and John Bellairs, she writes fantasy gothic and YA fiction, but with a medical twist. Her middle-grade fiction series, The Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles, is available through Cooperative Press. Non-fiction includes Unnatural Reproductions and the Monstrous (Cambria Press) and Death's Summer Coat--a surprisingly personal cultural history of death and grief in the west (Elliott and Thompson).

Dr. Schillace is Research Associate for the Dittrick Museum of Medical History and managing editor of an anthropology journal, Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry. She writes for Inside Higher Ed, Huffington Post, and the Centre for Medical Humanities. She is also the chief editor of the Fiction Reboot | Daily Dose blog, created to support and promote fiction and the medical humanities.

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Bayliss on April 21, 2014
Format: Paperback
Jacob Maresbeth is a vampire. Although, that's not the correct term, his father calls it "epilemia." Which is one of many things that make this not-your-usual vampire tale. Poor Jacob's affliction is explained in scientific terms making the story seem much more real. And, Jacob isn't the overly sexy, overly perfect, brooding vampire we've come to know. He's a real teenage boy, with all the insecurities and flaws that come with it. And, in my opinion, that just makes him all the more appealing. Jacob is certainly a character you enjoy spending time with, and want to root for.

High Stakes was thoroughly enjoyable read from beginning to end. Schillace gives us a powerful debut, with a strong and an entertaining voice. The story was funny, sweet, but also suspenseful. At the end of this brief and brisk story, I was left wanting more. I can't wait for more Jacob Maresbeth, and more novels by Brandy Schillace.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Narrated by sixteen-year-old Jacob Maresbeth, High Stakes reads like the most interesting “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay I’ve ever read.

Jake is not a vampire, not really. Except he kind of is. He drinks blood and his internal clock definitely has a nocturnal preference. But besides that, he’s pretty much your average healthy, growing teenage boy. And being an average teenage boy, he’s pretty disgruntled that he has to leave the sunny beaches of his home town of Newport News, Virginia to spend two weeks of his summer vacation with his younger sister in Cleveland, Ohio with their Aunt Sylvia, an eccentric English professor. Aunt Sylvia’s been kept in the dark about Jake’s more, shall we say, vampiric symptoms, so Jake will have to spend the whole time living up to his father’s cover story of being frail, allergic to pretty much everything, and having an all-around delicate constitution. Jake figures the whole thing is a bust and just plans to wait the days out until he can go home– until he meets Zsofia, his aunt’s gold-haired, gorgeous Hungarian graduate student.

I love different takes on established genres and so a book about a living teenager with a mysterious blood disorder that mimics vampirism sounded great – and it was! The story flowed brilliantly and Jake had this fantastic dry, self-deprecating sense of humor that I really liked. Aunt Sylvia was quite a character with her clinking bangles, flowing skirts, and obsession with health foods and remedies (like the medicated soap she tries to thrust upon Jake in misplaced, but well-intentioned, helpfulness). Lizzy was a bit bratty and terribly dramatic, but loyal all the same – like any good little sister.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Annette on July 26, 2014
Format: Paperback
Short summary of the story:
Jacob Maresbeth is just your average sixteen-year-old boy, well, aside from his vampiric tendencies that is. As a child, Jacob developed a strange blood disorder that his father has come to call "epilemia." This disorder has a strange set of symptoms, including nocturnal habits, fast healing, and, of course, the consumption of blood. This is why one should not be surprised that Jacob's sister, Lizzy, prefers to call him a vampire.

The story begins with Jacob and Lizzy being sent to live with their Aunt Sylvia, in Ohio, for two weeks. Aunt Syl is one of those great quirky english majors that possesses so many lovable qualities. Of course, Jacob is less than thrilled to spend time with her and must keep up the appearance of being an invalid and the fact that he drinks blood, a secret. Aunt Syl seems to be a bit overbearing and loves to joke about Jacob's "irritable bowels." Jacob soon meets Syl's Hungarian research assistant, Zsófia. This beautiful graduate student just happens to be writing her dissertation on vampires (ironic right?). Soon Jacob is spending quite a bit of time with Zsófia and hoping that his love for her will be returned. The universe, however, has different plans.

Jacob has a nasty habit of overeating when he's depressed, leading up to the fact that he drank about almost over a two weeks supply of blood. Why is this a problem? Well, now that he has met Zsófia, he plans to stay another two weeks so that he can spend even more time with her. Nothing can possibly go wrong as long as he rations the remaining packs of blood, but then strange things begin to happen. The remaining blood packs go missing and Jacob's health declines, bringing forth drastic changes in his demeanor and appearance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary on June 20, 2014
Format: Paperback
Disclaimer: I received this free for a review. Okay, this is a YA story, so I have to think of my review in terms of that. I appreciate the author's desire to write a short story for a young male audience. It was a fast read for me and held my interest fairly well. I enjoy a good vampire story. I'm not so sure about the "disease", but that is creative license. The ending could have been fleshed out a bit more, as I thought it ended rather abruptly. Perhaps the idea is that the reader's attention span might not handle a longer more tied in ending or there was a page limit. There are several typos and word omissions, which were distracting to me. I hope the editing team will fix them. An example: titled instead of tilted. Spell check is not a replacement for good editing, unfortunately. The story itself is a fairly fresh take for the vampire genre. I think this will be appealing to the younger audience.
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