Review of By A Charm And A Curse plus Q&A with author Jaime Questell

 

I’m happy to have Jaime Questell on my blog today answering some questions about her upcoming book, By a Charm and a Curse.  I will also be sharing my review of the book.

 

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By a Charm & a Curse by Jaime Questell

 

 

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.

 

 

Q&A with Jaime:

 

What inspired you to write a book about a curse?

 

Well, not sure what it says about me, but everything I’ve written has a slight bend toward horror. Adding a curse to a carnival seemed like a fun way to bring that horror element to what’s usually a bright and shining environment. That juxtaposition was really fun to explore. I’m not sure if I can explain it well in writing, but that music that most people associate with circuses, that dut-dut-duhduh-duhduh-dut-dut-dah-da kind of music is actually what is played when something bad happens, as a means of distraction. I love that no matter what’s going on behind the scenes, you never let the patrons know. So in my book, I kind of took that and turned the volume up to eleven. 

 

What is your favorite thing at the carnival?  Is there anything there that creeps you out? 

 

The food! There’s something to be said for the creativity of finding new ways to serve food on a stick. But if we’re talking about rides, then it’s definitely the Ferris wheel, though after writing this book, I’m a million times more cautious when I’m in one! And, I won’t lie, clowns creep me out. Happy the clown is kind of a play on that typical clown ickiness, though I really do like him as a character. Sorry, Happy!

 

How was the process for writing and having your first book published?  Any tips for new authors looking to get their book out there?

 

Oh, man. Patience is key. Everything about publishing is a waiting game, and it’s so important to learn that it’s not the author, it’s the industry. My other advice is to metaphorically keep your eyes on your own paper. It’s so easy to see what’s going on with other authors – the big book deals, the movie rights, second, third, fourth printings – but it’s harder to remember that for every accomplishment there are literally hundreds of rejections, hours upon hours of revision, and frustration. Be happy for your fellow authors, because their success means the industry is thriving, but don’t try to qualify your own success by what happens to others. 

 

Are you working on anything right now?

 

I am! I’m working on a project set in a tiny Texas town that I’ve made up with witches and secrets. I’m loving it and hope I can share more about it soon!

 

I noticed on your bio that you like to bake.  What is the best thing that you’ve made?  Have you made anything that was just a disaster?

 

OMG, yes. I love birthdays and always try to listen to my family when they request something special for their birthday cake. One year, my husband found a recipe in one of my cookbooks for a root beer chocolate cake. I made it following the recipe to a T, but that is just something no human should ever have to taste. I’ve never seen so many people try to politely eat cake that was awful. 

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions Jaime!

 

About the author:

 

 

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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. Currently, she lives in the suburbs with her family, one derpy dog, and one imperious cat. If she had her way, she’d have an army of corgis, like the Queen of England.

 

 

My Review:

I really enjoyed reading By A Charm And A Curse. It had great pacing and a story that pulled me in right away.

Emma was visiting a carnival with her friend when she met a boy, Sidney. Emma did something she normally wouldn’t do and went off alone with him. Sidney had her drink wine with him on the ferris wheel and then they kissed. That sealed Emma’s fate. Sidney was “the boy in the box”. This curse was now passed on to Emma. She became something odd. Not really human anymore, but still her personality. Emma is hard, I guess sort of plastic. She can’t eat, sleep, cry, etc. The circus workers take Emma in and explain to her that she now has to stay with them.

The circus was cursed years before by Pia and Duncan’s great aunt. She was hurt by a boy and tried to kill him. Her mom and sister tried to save him and in turn, he became tied to the carnival somehow. He could only pass the curse on by finding someone to kiss and almost kill. Sidney had been in the box for 50 years before passing this curse on to Emma. But most people would pass it on to someone else within a year or two. But to pass it on, you are ruining someone else’s life. This becomes a problem for Emma. She has such a good heart and can’t imagine hurting someone else.

The curse is also tied to charms that protect the carnival workers. They don’t fall, get hurt, get sick, or really age. But something is wrong this time and workers start having accidents.

Benjamin is a labor worker for the carnvial, just waiting to turn 18 and leave. This changes when he meets Emma. Benjamin and Emma become friends at first, but a romance starts to grow between them. Both become desparate to find a way to break the curse.

“With Emma by my side, I can actually see the carnival for the thing of wonder that it is…And it’s beautiful.”

I really loved all the side characters in the carnival. The author did a great job including them in the story so that it wasn’t just a romance. Pia and Duncan were favorites, but I also really loved Gin and Whiskey. I didn’t want to like Sidney, but he grew on me.

The only negative for me with this book was the death of an animal. Animals dying in books just break me. Other than that, I enjoyed everything about the book.

I gave this one four stars.

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Entangled Teen) through Netgalley for review.

 

By a Charm & a Curse is expected to be published February 6, 2018 by Entangled Teen.  I hope you read and enjoy it!

 

Thank you again to Jaime for your time and thank you to everyone reading this.

 

~Kristi

 

 

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Author: confessionsofayareader

I'm Kristi. I'm a wife, mom, and grandma. I have been breeding leopard geckos for ten years. I love to read and have been trying to review more books (the reason for this blog besides wanting to talk about books with everyone). I also love music and going to concerts, mostly punk and pop punk.

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