Blog Tour: Raves & Craves of Given to the Earth by Mindy McGinnis

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Given to the Earth Cover

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Title: Given to the Earth
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Putnam’s Childrens
Release Date: April 10, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis:

Duty, fate, desire, and destiny collide in this intricately wrought tale, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.

Although she was born to save the kingdom by sacrificing herself to the rising sea, Khosa’s marriage to King Vincent has redeemed her. As the Queen of Stille, she’s untouchable. But being Queen hasn’t stopped her heart from longing for the King’s stepbrother, Donil. And it hasn’t stopped her body from longing for the sea itself, which still calls for her.

While Khosa is made to choose between loyalty and love, Dara is on a mission for vengeance. Years ago, the Pietra slaughtered the entire Indiri race, leaving only Dara and her twin, Donil, alive. Now, spurned by King Vincent, Dara has embarked on a mission to spill the blood of Pietra’s leader, Witt, and will stop at nothing to show his people the wrath of the last Indiri. 

As the waves crash ever closer to Stille, secrets are revealed, hearts are won and lost, and allegiances change like the shifting sand.


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Given to the Earth follows a few months after the captivating ending of Given to the Sea. Also, told in multiple points-of-view like its fantasy duo, this book focuses on how Khosa’s thought-to-be tragic sacrifice to the sea has now turned into a chance to live and be queen. But with these new changes in motion, the Earth begins to literally crumble beneath them and the loyalties among the characters are challenged. Love becomes a triangle of complexities–trust and forgiveness are tested. McGinnis writes a beautiful epic story, where lives at social and cultural classes are pushed to survive. She takes each of her flawed characters, and gives them a chance to save themselves, their family and friends, and in some cases, their own people and kingdom.

What I loved about this book the most was the many shocking secrets that are revealed. We delve into an action-packed book that is filled with tragic traditions, political gain, and secretive histories. In Given to the Earth, we are thrown into layers of political intrigue, betrayal, heartbreak, and some tragic endings. And in the end, I loved the last chapter, which brilliantly and beautifully provides a heartfelt conclusion.

 

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In several scenes of Given to the Earth, Khosa is mentioned to be eating bread or munching on bread crumbs. Now I love me some good, warm homemade bread, but I also have a sweet tooth. While reading these scenes, I could not stop thinking about my mom’s famous monkey bread. So of course, I quickly whipped up a batch of monkey bread and ate it during the last few chapters of the book. Both the monkey bread and the last chapter made an ooey-gooey mess with my heart.


Ingredients:

Canned biscuits (1 to 2 cans)
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of white sugar
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup of butter or margarine

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees
  2. Lightly grease a bundt pan
  3. Mix the white sugar and cinnamon in a bowl or plastic bag
  4. Cut up biscuit dough into bite-sized pieces
  5. Mix and coat the bite-sized biscuit dough in the sugar-cinnamon mix
  6. At medium heat, boil the butter and brown sugar in a pan to make a sauce
  7. Add and arrange the sugar-cinnamon biscuits pieces into the greased bundt pan.
  8. Pour the buttery-brown sugar sauce over top the coated biscuit pieces in the bundt pan
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes and flip onto a plate. You can now slice the cake or pull pieces off. YUM!

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GIVEN TO THE SEA

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Mindy McGinnis is an assistant YA librarian who lives in Ohio and cans her own food. She graduated from Otterbein University magna cum laude with a BA in English Literature and Religion.


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BSITE   /   TWITTER  /   GOODREADS   /
FACEBOOK   /   INSTAGRAM

Note: Thank you to Penguin Teen for having me on this blog tour and for providing me a review copy to read for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

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If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Review of Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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Title:
Starry Eyes
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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Synopsis:

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?


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If you love second chance romances, complicated friendships, and downright brutally honest characters, Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett is the perfect book for you. Take everything you love about Bennett’s past young adult books (if you haven’t read them yet…OHMYGOD, READ THEM!) and then multiply that love by a bajillion, and you get Starry Eyes. This novel is a mix of coming-of-age discoveries, molding friendships, and holding on to the aspect that pure love exists in all shapes and forms. 

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Starry Eyes is a meshing between Katherine Center’s Happiness for Beginners, an adult hiking story centered on new beginnings and self-discovery, and the messy complications of teenage life found in Jenn Bennett’s own Alex, Approximately.  The main characters in Starry Eyes, Zorie and Lennon, struggle throughout the pages trying to understand what happened to their past friendship, how did they come to this point in “hating” each other, and can their friendship re-ignite as they hike through mountains, fend off bears and snakes, and map their way to new beginnings. I love the chemistry between these two characters. Zorie and Lennon have a fantastic history between each other; it’s filled with inside jokes, the “great experiment,” and familial dynamics that balance on a thin line of love and hate. 

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Furthermore, I really enjoyed Starry Eyes because it focuses on so many relevant topics and diverse characters. Without providing too many spoilers, Bennett takes a refreshing stance on modern-day families. She challenges the idea of the traditional sense of parents, and it made my heart grow 3 times bigger whenever I read a scene between Zorie and her stepmom. I also liked Bennett’s ability to write about positive and safe sex decisions in a young adult novel. Zorie and Lennon’s path towards discussing sex is based on affection, consent, respect, and love. 

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In the end, this story is a beautiful mashup of star-gazing, glamping shenanigans, and a destined friendship that can withstand anything. I’m going to say it right now, Starry Eyes is by far my favorite contemporary book of 2018, so far. Zorie and Lennon’s fierceness, angst, determination, and quirks made them so captivating and so hard not to love and root for throughout each chapter. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good romantic story filled with great character-development, laughs, swoons, and warm, slow-rising smiles. 

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star rating

5 out of 5 Stars!

 
Note: I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I received this book from a friend, and I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are my own.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

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Title:
Truest 
Author: Jackie Lea Sommers
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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Synopsis:

Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck’s small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He’s curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening– and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister– and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.

Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers.

 


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Truest threw me into a whirlwind. It swept me in, carried me like a feather, and then knocked me over with a ton of bricks. The writing is gorgeous. The characters are achingly raw and realistic and oftentimes so heartbreaking. Sometimes I found myself wanting to give them each a hug, and I’m not even a hugging person. And in the end, this story is so riveting and overall stunning.

Jackie Lea Sommers’ Truest is not only funny and witty, but also fist-clinching, grief-stricken, and thought-provoking. Truest contained so much love in every aspect–love between siblings, friends, parents, old friends, and new friends. But with love there is also the painful aspect of grief, loss, and heartbreak. This book is an emotional roller coaster and I could not put it down.

Each chapter detailing Westlin and Silas’s growing friendship had me swooning, laughing, and gasping for air: sometimes from too much laughter and sometimes from shock. I was left with overall thoughts rationalizing the life we’re given, the people that enter our lives and forever change it, and how do we cherish the time we have with each other. Truest is definitely one of the most memorable contemporary YA novels I have had the pleasure of reading. 

star rating

5 out of 5 Stars!

 
Note: I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds, and I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are my own.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review of Pacifica by Kristen Simmons

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PACIFICA
Title:
 Pacifica
Author:  Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

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Synopsis:

Marin is cosario royalty, a pirate like her father and his father before him. Sailing the ocean to chase adventure is in her blood. But these days no one cares that the island town her people call home is named after her grandfather. They have a new leader, one who promises an end to their hunger – and one who thinks that girls are meant for the kitchen or the brothel. Marin knows she’s meant for more than that, and with the sudden influx of weapons on the island, and rumors of a pending deal with the enemy oil nation in her wake, she knows a big score to gain the council’s favor is the only way to save her people, and herself.

Ross lives a life of privilege. As the president’s son he wants for nothing, but he longs for a life of adventure. On a dare, he convinces his best friend Adam to sneak out to the Docks, the site of local race riots between the poor Shorlings and the upper class. But when Adam is arrested along with the other Shorlings, and not even the president is willing to find him, Ross finds himself taking matters into his own hands. He journeys back into the Docks, ready to make deals with anyone, even a beautiful pirate, if it means Adam’s safe return.

When Marin and Ross meet in dangerous Shoreling territory he sees a way to get his friend back and she sees her ticket home. The ransom a president’s son would command could feed her people for years and restore her family’s legacy. But somewhere in the middle of the ocean, Marin must decide if her heart can handle handing over the only person who has ever seen her as more than a pirate.

Praise for PACIFICA

“A harrowing world where overpopulation is rampant and pollution stifling. The characters creep into your heart with raw, familiar issues of love, friendship, and family ties, careening you on a plot fraught with just as many twists as there are pieces of trash in the ocean. Pacifica will have you breathlessly fearing our own future.” ―New York Times bestselling author Sara Raasch

Praise for KRISTEN SIMMONS

“Like The Handmaid’s Tale, Simmons’s book serves as essential commentary on women’s rights.” ―Cosmopolitan.com on The Glass Arrow

“I’m clutching my mangled heart and smiling madly, so it’s that kind of book. Such gorgeous heartbreak! Smart, absorbing, and deeply human.” ―New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor on Metaltown

“A compelling, inspiring read. The characters had me rooting for rebels, fights worth fighting, and girls with gumption. By the time it was over, I had my fist in the air.” ―New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake on Metaltown


25Pacifica is the first book I have read by Kristen Simmons and I highly enjoyed it. Set in the future, in a dystopian world, this novel had everything from modern-day pirates, historical reflections, mystery, adventure, and a splash of romance.  The main characters, Marin and Ross, come from opposites sides of the social ladder, but their world reflects the same view: garbage has taken over the ocean, whales are a rare sight to see, glaciers and icecaps no longer exist, natural resources are low, and everyone is doing everything they can to try and survive, even the government. 

In this novel, I found Kristen Simmons’s writing so engaging. I read the first 200 pages in less than a few hours. Just in one sitting, I was engrossed by her storytelling, steady pacing, great world-building, and well-developed characters. Honestly, reading Pacifica felt like I was watching a movie–each scene steadily strung together with hope, anxiety, intensity, and sometimes swoons. What I loved most about this book is that there is honestly so much passion and heart in Simmons’s story and her characters. It was so hard for me to close the book and pursue any everyday type of tasks without this novel sitting in the back of my mind.
I was really impressed that in less than 400 pages, Simmons’s Pacifica thoroughly covers historical topics that impact the now and the future. These topics range from climate change and political corruption, which included forced relocation and internment camps.  Pacifica is a firm foundation story that vividly portrays distressing topics that people often want to throw under the rug because they refuse to see the fire that humanity has started. And as the fire burns, Pacifica adds a perfect amount of comedy and romance to help relieve some of the horrors that mankind inflicts in Marin and Ross’s world.

Overall, Pacifica is a gut-wrenching novel that will pull at your heartstrings. It’s a book about sacrifice, friendship, consequences, and morality. I liked that the story is not overly jammed packed with action; instead, it flows at the steady pace of a water current. Although important and shocking themes are explored in this novel, and with the meshing of hope and romance, this thought-provoking novel will have you at the edge of your seat to the very end. 
star rating

5 out of 5 Stars!

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 2 Winners will receive two sets of Kristen’s books
(Article 5, The Glass Arrow and Metaltown) in a TOR Teen Tote
Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
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WEEK ONE
MARCH 5th MONDAY Wishful Endings REVIEW
MARCH 5th MONDAY Reading for the Stars and Moon REVIEW
MARCH 6th TUESDAY JeanBookNerd REVIEW 
MARCH 7th WEDNESDAY Fiction Fare REVIEW 
MARCH 7th WEDNESDAY Sabrina’s Paranormal Palace REVIEW 
MARCH 8th THURSDAY Literary Meanderings EXCERPT 
MARCH 8th THURSDAY Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile REVIEW 
MARCH 9th FRIDAY The Avid Reader REVIEW 
MARCH 9th FRIDAY Teachers of YA’s Book Blog REVIEW

WEEK TWO
MARCH 12th MONDAY A Dream Within a Dream REVIEW
MARCH 13th TUESDAY Undeniably Book Nerdy REVIEW
MARCH 13th TUESDAY TFAULC Book Reviews EXCERPT
MARCH 14th WEDNESDAY Book Lady’s Reviews REVIEW
MARCH 14th WEDNESDAY Blushing Bibliophile REVIEW
MARCH 15th THURSDAY Chapter by Chapter REVIEW 
MARCH 15th THURSDAY Insane About Books REVIEW 
MARCH 16th FRIDAY BookHounds YA REVIEW 

MARCH 16th FRIDAY Book Briefs REVIEW

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Kristen Simmons


KRISTEN SIMMONS is the author of the ARTICLE 5 series, THE GLASS ARROW, and METALTOWN. She has worked with survivors of abuse and trauma as a mental health therapist, taught Jazzercise in five states, and is forever in search of the next best cupcake. Currently she lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, where she spends her days supporting the caffeine industry and chasing her delightfully rambunctious son.

WEBSITE   /   TWITTER  /   GOODREADS   /
FACEBOOK   /   INSTAGRAM

 

 
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Note: Thank you to Jean BookNerd for having me on this blog tour. And a huge thank you to Tor Teen for providing me a hardcover copy of
Pacifica to read for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

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Title: 
 Daughter of the Siren Queen
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publication date: February 27, 2018
Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance

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Synopsis:

Alosa’s mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he’s under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father’s justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.


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Sequels are always “iffy” for me, but wow, The Daughter of the Siren Queen blew me out of the water. The story starts off right where the last book ended. From the very beginning, this novel is off with a bang and the action doesn’t stop there. It felt great to be back in Alosa’s world filled with brave and fierce comrades, female pirates with spunk, courage, and a fondness for sisterhood.

The Daughter of the Siren Queen is Alosa’s life story of betrayal, sacrifice, and my favorite, a swoony romance. I really like that Alosa is a self-rescuing heroine. She is a badass, female pirate (captain) with so much wit, fierecness, and fight in her soul. Like in the previous book, Alosa highly values and praises her crew and her friends. She’s an exceptional leader and the perfect character to help you survive any enemy attack. 

Also, I continued to love Tricia’s writing style in this second book, because she makes her characters seem so lifelike; their stories are so engaging and worth following. The storyline flows so well with the perfect amount of action and pacing. The Daughter of the Siren Queen is such an enthralling story that I didn’t realize I was almost done with it until I sadly found myself with only 10 pages left to read. I love the adventure and pirate lore that is littered in the pages. And you all, I didn’t want this story to end. I know this series is just a duology, but I am so greedy for another book or a spinoff series. 

star rating

 
Note: Thank you Macmillan for providing me an arc/galley of this book to read and review for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Author Q&A: By A Charm & A Curse by Jaime Questell

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Title:
By a Charm & A Curse
Author:  Jaime Questell
Published by: Entangled: Teen
Publication date: February 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

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 / Barnes & Noble  /  Book Depository


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Hi everyone, welcome to my first ever “Question & Answer” Author post….EEEEK! Today, I am interviewing the amazing and talented writer Jaime Questell, the author of By A Charm & A Curse. You can see my review of the book HERE. But without further ado, it’s time for the main show! 

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1.      Describe By A Charm & A Curse in one sentence.
J.Q.: A story about a girl trapped in a carnival’s curse, forced to either transfer it or break it before the life of the boy she loves is endangered.

2.      How did the idea of the book originate? Which came first: the characters, the world, or the plot?
J.Q.:
The first thing I had was a girl falling from a great height. Then I asked myself why she was falling, from where did she fall and did she survive? Magic, that was how she survived. Everything spun out of that image and the answers to those questions.

3.      Did you do any research for the book? If so, what was the oddest or weirdest thing you found in your research?
J.Q.: I did! I researched terminology and looked up old pictures of circuses and carnivals. I don’t know if I’d call it odd, but I will say I found the photos of abandoned carnival rides strangely pretty. I tried to work in some of that haunting creepiness into my book.

4.      If you could have dinner with one of your characters, who would you pick and why?
J.Q.: I would totally have dinner with Leslie. Aside from the fact that that woman probably needs a break, I think that she’s seen so much over the years and would have the best stories to tell. 

Let’s talk about you…

1.      What’s one fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
J.Q.:
I have the biggest, most ridiculous nail polish collection. I’m sure that there are some people who have more, but mine merits its own piece of furniture. 😀

2.      What was your favorite part about writing this book? What was your least favorite part about the writing process?
J.Q.: I loved working in the little touches of magic. I knew my world didn’t have the sparkles-and-faeries everywhere kind of magic, so slipping it in here and there became a fun game I played with myself. And the least favorite part was probably the revisions at the end. There comes a point where even though you know you’re working to make your book better, you’re so sick of your own words that you don’t want to look at them anymore. 

3.      If you were to trade places with Melissa McCarthy in this .gif, which book/books are your always insisting people to read? 

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J.Q.: Hahaha, first of all, this GIF is hilarious. Second, I think it would be anything by Leigh Bardugo. She writes beautiful stories in these fully-fleshed out worlds that feel so lush and so well-thought out. As someone who struggles with world building, I admire this greatly. 

4.      Do you have any plans to write a sequel, companion novel, or another book set in a different world? If so, can you give us any hints about the synopsis?
J.Q.: I’ll never say never, but at the moment, I don’t have any plans. But, if I did, I could imagine a spin-off with Marcel and Whiskey taking the lead. 

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A huge “THANK YOU” to Jaime for taking the time to answer my questions; you are a rockstar! If you haven’t yet read By A Curse & A Charm, please prepare yourself for a dark morsel of carnival curses and magical shenanigans.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: By A Charm & A Curse by Jaime Questell

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34921588
Title:
By a Charm & a Curse
Author:  Jaime Questell
Published by: Entangled: Teen
Publication date: February 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

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 / Barnes & Noble  /  Book Depository


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By A Charm & A Curse is dark carnival novel that intertwines a story of sacrifice, love, and selflessness. The characters and the plot embrace you from the very beginning, sending you on a rollercoaster of thrills, chills, and a close up of the secretive and melancholic world of carnivals. I love carnival/circus books, and this book added a bit of fantasy and grittiness with twisted curses into the mix of Ferris wheels and fortune tellers. 

Told in multiple points-of-view, I liked that we got a unique look at both the historical pieces of a traveling carnival and the electrifying thrills of today’s carnivals. The main characters, Emma and Ben, both provide a very vibrant and straightforward account of their surroundings.  The story had some unexpected surprises, but the pacing had me longing for solutions for the hopeless and helpless characters that were cursed. By A Charm & A Curse is definitely a page-turner.

By A Charm & A Curse is a dollop of charms, suspense, romance, and darkness thrown into pages of decadent carnival magic. I enjoyed reading the connection that builds between Emma and Ben; however, I would have also loved more focus on the secondary characters, who all had some insane, mind-boggling talents (maybe we will get a companion novel or some novellas in the future!). Overall, this book becomes a complicated bundle of ancestral curses, but provides a beautiful outlook of a small community coming together to change fate.

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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 / Instagram / Twitter / Goodreads / Newsletter

NOTE:  Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Teen for providing me an e-arc to read and review for free in exchange of an honest review.