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By a Charm and a Curse Hardcover – February 6, 2018
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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Starred Review: "A dark idea for a YA story, executed deftly and with feeling." ―Kirkus Reviews
"A real page-turner! I was so charmed by this book filled with mystery and magical mayhem that I wasn't able to put it down until the end." ―Brenda Drake, New York Times bestselling author
"What a ride! From the very first page, By a Charm and a Curse took me on a roller coaster of emotions―and I never wanted to get off!" ―Pintip Dunn, New York Times bestselling author
5 stars: "Once I picked this one up I simply couldn't put it down until finished with it's fast pace and unique story."―Carrie, Carrie’s Book Reviews
5 stars: "It's Pinocchio meets Alice in Wonderland only darker." ―Danielle, Chapters Through Life
5 stars: "If you can't tell, I really enjoyed this one. It's not out for a few months, but it's definitely worth a look." ―Kirsti, Goodreads Reviewer
5 stars: "Author Jaime Questell’s writing is flawless. This is a nail-biting page turner worthy of the sleep you’ll miss while seeing it through to the end." ―Jessica, Dreamer J’s Book Reviews
5 stars: "I found the book enchanting from the very beginning and immediately fell in love with the characters of Benjamin and Emmaline[.]" ―Sandra, Jeanz Book Read n Review
5 stars: "[I]t is unique tale and stands apart from the others with a distinct and fresh storyline. I would highly recommend this novel for anyone who loves magical stories with a touch of romance." ―Erica, Goodreads Reviewer
5 stars: "I have to say it exceeded my expectations. The circus part reminded me of The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern), which is a book I loved, but the story is simpler, the characters less complicated. However, that does not mean it is any less charming." ―Lola, Lola et La Vie
5 stars: "With each chapter from a different character perspective, it kept the story flowing and you didn't miss a thing! Would read this book over and over!" ―Cynthia, Goodreads Reviewer
5 stars: "I loved everything about this book-the writing style, the characters and of course the setting. I thought it was an extremely well written, original and enchanting story. It had its hooks on me from the 1st paragraph." ―Sharon, Netgalley Reviewer
5 stars: "I would highly recommend this to fans of carnival books. This one was done in such a unique way, it won’t feel like you’ve been to this carnival before." ―Kristi, Boston Book Reader
About the Author
JAIME QUESTELL grew up in Houston, Texas, where she escaped the heatand humidity by diving into stacks of BabySitter’s Club and SweetValley High books. She has been a book seller (fair warning: booklovers who become book sellers will give half their paychecks right back totheir employers), a professional knitter, a semi-professional baker, and nowworks as a graphic designer in addition to writing.
Top customer reviews
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What a quick fun little read! This book was super cute! While it does have quite some mixed reviews, I personally really really enjoyed it.
First off, it's about a cursed circus! Though it sounded more like a fair than a circus in my opinion, it was still definitely super awesome to read about this particular setting. It was magical and fun to explore all of the different aspects of Le Grand's Carnival Fantastic. From Emmaline's booth to the fortune telling tent, everything was well described and fun to imagine.
The characters were also lots of fun to read about. Although there were so many characters to learn that it was sort of hard to remember who was who. All of the characters were really likable (minus the Moretti siblings). I really really really disliked the Moretti siblings, which I understand was the point, but it was kind of unrealistic; that along with the fact that nobody else really noticed it. I very very much disliked that the author killed off the one dog, just because 1. animals 2. that was Emmaline's main support system when she arrived.
One problem I had with this book was the predictability. The solution to their problem was very obvious and cliche. Not that there is anything wrong with cliche, but I would've preferred to have been more surprised. Also, these huge accidents that occurred weren't all that tremendous, and yes I understand that it was still supposed to be a shock since they hadn't had accidents in years, but still, it didn't amount to much in the plot of the story.
Overall, this was a really fun and quick read! Bonus for it taking place in a carnival.
I honestly went into this book expecting it to read like a first novel. Further, young adult novels are often predictable and lack character development.
The idea of the novel was intriguing so I was interested in reading to see where it would go and if it would deliver.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book. For the length and intended audience the character development was perfect. The plot had some surprising turns - not in the way of ‘That came out of no where’ but in a ‘Oh, that makes sense’ kind of way.
I really enjoyed it. I can see it as a great movie. And I will watch for Jaime Questell’s next novel.
By a Charm & a Curse by Jaime Questell
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
Someone needs to help me out here. Before I began reading this book, I went on Goodreads to pull link information to set up my review post, and I saw a slew of two- and three-star reviews, as well as DNF reviews. I respect the reviewers and their opinions, but a lot of the things they were complaining about were... wrong? Several reviewers were mad about "love" being thrown around too quickly; that's hilarious because that word is "thrown around" at the 3/4 mark of the book - nearly two months into the story. Anyway, I'm confused as to why reviews are so negative because I did not have the same experience. The first 5% or so was a little tough to get through, but I was hooked once Emmaline's entrapment began. This debut novel deserves a little more credit because it really was not a bad story at all.
The story begins with Emmaline and her friend Juliet attending the carnival in Claremore, Oklahoma. Emmaline has just moved there with her brothers, to live with their dad, since their mom is doing research in Guatemala. The carnival is magical and enticing, and it's not long before Emmaline gets swept up into the atmosphere. She agrees to hang out with a boy in a jack-in-the-box tent, during his break, and everything falls apart. Suddenly she is now in possession of the carnival's curse, which forces her to stay there and take the boy's place. She is cursed with no sense of touch, and she can only get rid of the curse by transferring it to someone else, just as the boy did to her. Emmaline is forced to travel with the carnival and leave her family behind. It's not just the curse she holds, but the carnival's charm as well. But what if she could break the curse? Will she risk it and doom the carnival - including the carpenter boy she has fallen for?
The first 5% or so was a little slow, and my interest kept fluctuating. It wasn't until Sidney transferring the curse to Emmaline that I really started to get interested in the story. Emmaline is trapped and completely helpless, and no matter how badly she wants to go home, she can't. The rest of the story shows her adjustment (or lack thereof), and how the charm starts to deteriorate for some strange reason... you'll have to read the book to find out why and how.
In the beginning of the story, Emmaline is tentative and a little shy, with low self-esteem and little confidence in herself. It was easy for Sidney to selfishly pass the curse to her, because she was so taken by someone paying attention to her. She is helpless and lost when she realizes her situation, and angry too, but mostly lost. But as the story goes on, she starts to become more resolved to find a solution to her problems - like breaking the curse once and for all. It was nice to see Emmaline grow and strengthen herself, despite her situation. I felt so bad for her, being trapped as she was, but I also liked how selfless she was in never trying to pass the curse to someone else.
This book is told in dual first-person POV, the other person being Benjamin, as narrator. Benjamin is a young carpenter and painter - not a performer in the carnival, but one that does odd jobs and maintenance to keep things flowing. He is kind and clever, and also very stubborn and determined. He wants to reach out to Emmaline from the start, to help her, and he befriends her despite his mother warning him away from Emmaline. Benjamin is a sweet boy with a good heart.
The romance is suuuper slow-burn and really cute. Benjamin and Emmaline don't interact very much when she is first trapped, but Benjamin starts to approach her and is kind to her. He knows she needs a friend and he wants to help her fit in and feel less lonely. The romance goes at a slow pace, but the two develop strong feelings for each other. I personally didn't see insta-love here, ESPECIALLY since they don't really realize the depths of their feelings until about three-fourths of the way into the story - which was about two months since the beginning of the story. A lot of time passes, clearly. Their friendship becomes stronger and deeper, and though they dare not do anything about their feelings, the feelings are there. They don't kiss until the very end of the story. To me there was no insta-love or insta-lust - just a very sweet friendship-turned-romance. Also - no love triangle. It's all Benjamin and Emmaline.
The story focuses on Emmaline's adjustment to becoming the Girl in the Box (who is the most important person to the carnival - she holds the curse, and therefore, the charm). But then things take a sinister turn, with more accidents occurring, and several deaths following. The theory is that the charm is weakening - but how? And why now? I won't spoil anything, but everything goes right down to the end of the book.
The ending, in my opinion, was very good! There was a bit of sadness to it, in terms of some secondary characters, but things worked out in a way. I will say that there is a HEA for the primary characters, but you'll have to read the book to know exactly what kind of HEA it is. I liked it!
What I Did Not Like:
I don't think I have any specific complaints, besides the very beginning being slow! I could see some people DNFing the book after a few %, because of the slowness of the story in the beginning. But it's really not that bad. Just keep going!
Would I Recommend It:
If you like fiction centered around intriguing carnivals (who doesn't!), I definitely recommend this book! It's not as complex as The Night Circus, but I got some Caraval vibes, though it is VERY different from both The Night Circus and Caraval.
4 stars. I am glad I decided to read this book, despite whatever the Goodreads reviews were saying! Sometimes I look at the reviews and think to myself, y'all didn't pay enough attention. But that happens. I'm glad this story worked for me. By a Charm & a Curse is a sweeping, captivating standalone tale that had me hooked and turning pages until the very end. I am definitely looking forward to more books by Jaime Questell!
Most recent customer reviews
By a Charm & a Curse by Jaime Questrall. Entangled 2018. Won in a giveaway!
Amazon’s blurb: A kiss is never just a kiss.Read more
This book seriously deserves a big hype!
It was really really really good! I loved it from the first page until the last!Read more
By A Charm & A Curse by Jaime Questell was one of those super highly anticipated books that I pretty much...Read more
Ever since I read Caraval, I have been really wary of magical realism books. I even tried Night Circus and wasn't completely sold on the genre.Read more