New Kids On The Block 2018 with Jaime Questell

New Kids On The Block is a year-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader meant to welcome and celebrate new voices and debut authors in the literary community.

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About Jaime Questell

Jaime Questell is a writer and graphic designer from Houston, Texas. She has also been a bookseller, a professional knitter, a semi-professional baker, and an administrative assistant. None of these jobs involved wrangling corgis, which is quite sad. She lives in the ‘burbs with her husband, children, very anxious dog, one surly cat, and one recently acquired cojack, which is what happens when a corgi and Jack Russell terrier combine to make doggy magic.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

By A Charm and A Curse launched earlier this month, and in chatting with others about the book, I’ve come to realize just how much I love carnivals and how I’m drawn to just about any kind of media featuring them. Some of my favorites are more recent, and some have been with me since I was a kid. I tried to limit this to five books/movies/TV shows, but one extra snuck in there. 😉

Growing up, my grandmother would videotape movies off the television so my sister and I could watch them whenever we wanted, and one of my favorites was Big Top Pee-Wee. Is it the best movie in the world? No. Are some the accents and tropes and such clichéd as hell? Yes. But the inventiveness and the costumes and the trained animals – and the notion that friends band together and help each other in times of need – stick in my mind as what’s at the core of a carnival.

I’ll admit it – I wasn’t a fan of this novel for a good chunk of it. But there was this moment when the book turned a corner and then it was as if the magic on the page came to life. I love this book for the clock and the twins and all the black and white and red, and Celia and Marco. I’d read books before where I’d felt emotion, where I’d wanted to immerse myself in the world I was reading about. But The Night Circus was the first time where I had to remind myself that I wasn’t living in the world I was reading about.

This novel is not a pretty novel. The prose is more to the point, the story is brutal, and the subjects are the Binewski family, a collection of carnies who purposely expose themselves and their children to poisons to breed a collection of human oddities. The story unfolds as our narrator Olympia (Oly) relays the family’s complicated history for her daughter Miranda. At the same time, a woman named Mary Lick is preying upon Miranda, and Oly spies on the two of them to keep Miranda safe. This books gives us the dirty, gritty side of carnival life, but more than that, it shows how families are made and found and held together.

I never used to be a fan of horror, but with the premier of American Horror, my outlook shifted. American Horror Story always surprises, and this season of the show wasn’t a let down. I made myself wait to watch it until after I finished Charm, but it was worth it. And then, when I saw the storyline featuring Penny!! I don’t want to spoiler it for anyone, but what happens to Penny is something that still gives me the heebie-jeebies, even though I feel like it’s pretty damn similar to what happens to Emma in Charm.

Boss, the owner of the Circus Tresaulti is unlike any ringmaster out there. She’s built her circus from the bones out – LITERALLY. With magic and skill, Boss replaces the bones of her performers with copper pipe, making them weigh less and stronger, allowing them to perform stunts they normally could not. And oh, the performers! Elena and her aerialists were so haunting, so beautiful. Genevieve Valentine writes so elegantly, as if she’s one of the performers she’s describing.

I was terribly late to the party on this one. I’d heard about Stephanie Garber’s beautiful story for a long time but held out on reading this one, but when I finally got to it, I devoured it. Garber’s world is so lush, so vivid, and dream-like. I loved Scarlett’s adventures in Caraval, and all the twists and turns along the way. And some of the ideas she came up with! Let me tell you, I really want my own mood dress.

There are many more instances of carnivals and circuses out there, but these are my favorites. And even though I’m done writing about a carnival, I’ll never stop watching shows and reading books about them.

Title By A Charm and A Curse
Author Jaime Questell
Pages 306 Pages
Intended Target Audience
Genre Fantasy
Publication Date February 6th 2018 by Entangled: Teen
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

A kiss is never just a kiss.

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.

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