Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

charmandstrage

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Title: Charm and Strange
Author: Stephanie Kuehn
Expected Publication: June 11, 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin
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When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

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Man, what a strange, yet meaningful and compelling book. This gave my heart backflips, made my brain shut down, blown my mind to smithereens… as in, wow. Just wow. I’m not sure this is going to be everybody’s cuppa, as the book was written in a way that reaches out to those who are patient enough to get through the initial confusion, the abstraction, and the snail-like pace to truly understand and get the story. But damn, stick to it and you’ll find the journey to the end fulfilling yet also so, so heartbreaking. Long after I finished this book, I was still thinking about it — what the ending and the story as a whole really meant, pushing me into a whirlwind of emotions that I just can’t describe. There are some books out there that are so good but just leave you utterly speechless. This is one of them.

I won’t be talking about the story too much, because as other reviews have said, giving even just a tiny bit risk spoiling the tale in its entirety. The brilliance of this book comes from the understanding and putting together of the small pieces left for us to complete. The magic is scattered throughout the pages, but it’s in the explosive yet also subtle ending that you kind of assemble everything together to paint the bigger picture. We follow a troubled teenage boy who believes he may be a wolf. That he may be the one attacking the students who go out late at night. We eventually read somewhat fragmented flashbacks, getting glimpses of his childhood, a stage of his life where everything wasn’t what they first seemed. We meet his grandparents, his cousins, his older brother, his younger sister, and his parents. We get to know his story and understand him better – his experiences, his insecurities, his elusiveness. And they are all oh so, so scary and saddening.

What I loved most about this book was how Kuehn really made it work with her hypnotizing writing, because honestly, it’s NOT easy to formulate such a painful, traumatic tale, alternating between the past and the present AND making the reader on their toes to the very last page. There really is no definite or linear plot here. If you’re looking for a book with dwarves, elves, magic, and what have you, this isn’t it, but that doesn’t make this book less any surreal and magical in its own way. The author has this ability to really set up the atmosphere right – full of suspense and sadness, full of pain and anger, and yet, full of promise as well. I can’t describe it, really. All I can say is she successfully made my heart pound, made me tearducts dry from crying, and made me wonder and feel for and wonder again about the main character. These are things that can only be done when you really talk and connect to your readers through your words.

My first book from Kuehn and she delivered and executed this explosive, enthralling, and heart-rending story with a big bang. I’m definitely a follower from now on.

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About the Author

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Stephanie Kuehn is a YA writer who grew up in Berkeley, California, which is a quirky sort of a place with a ton of wonderful bookstores. Her very first job was working in one of those bookstores, and she’s been a freakishly avid reader for as long as she can remember.
Stephanie’s other passions include mental health advocacy, social justice, and sports of all kinds. She’s currently living in Northern California with her family and their wild menagerie of pets.

 

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Giveaway Time

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Faye

Faye

A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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  1. Becky Gardner says

    From reading your review, it definitely makes me what to read this book. I have read many of your book reviews and they have helped me pick out books that I would enjoy, and the ones that I pick to read because of info in your blog, I have liked, it has been a perfect score so far. Thanks so much.

    • FayeFaye says

      Awww, thanks so much! You have no idea how that means to me! I love it when I get to help people find books they like through my reviews. You’re very much welcome! Let me know if you do get to read this finally. I’m interested to read your thoughts!

  2. Monja Blue says

    Excellent review! What a book! The title catches the dichotomy charm & strange!
    Thanks for a chance to win this awesome giveaway!

    • FayeFaye says

      What a book, indeed! It has some sort of “mindfuck” ending, subtle and peaceful as it was. Haha. You’ll see when you read the book. :P

  3. Michelle Hofacker says

    This sounds like a really intense book. I definitely want to read it.
    Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

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