Blog Tour: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Standalone. St. Martin's Griffin (June 2013) Itching for Books
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.

I don't really know where to start with this book. My head is just a crazy jumble of words trying to form but I can't seem to pick the right ones to describe what I went through. This was this mysterious, grim, haunting, completely unexpected type of book. All of the things that happened within the story I didn't see coming. I knew Win was going to be battling with himself but not to the extent where he was quietly destroying and deconstructing himself. It's weird to find a book where a male POV hurt themselves in the past and has body issues. He felt bad about calories and he was a tall but skinny thing. He was unnerving in the way he acted and the way he was.

The story is mostly told in two parts - matter and antimatter. It's his present and his past so you see him now and how he became to be who he is. There's a lot of mystery involved in the story with him talking about being a wolf. I wondered almost to the end if he actually meant he was going to become a werewolf or if there was something else going on. I couldn't really tell. The author was able to sway me to think it was one thing and then think it was the other. My head is swimming because that's how it felt like reading Win's story. The author was able to take me into his world and get to know him at a personal level. His confusion is what I felt. His uncertainty was mine. It was remarkable.

At first I focused a lot on how the way Win thought. He was describing everything a little bit too much. It was like descriptive imagery where he would make sure you knew what he was seeing and feeling by using a lot of words to describe that one thing. It got a little bit annoying because it blocked me from getting into the story. But, that all went away when I actually did get into the story and started learning what was happening to Win.

In his past life he is this whimpering little boy who easily vomits because of his motion sickness. So there is a sense that he is a weak, innocent child but he's also very angry at the world which you see when the "incident" occurs. He judges himself too harshly and you see this kid drowning in himself at such a very young age. It's pretty terrifying that this kid would feel such loneliness and desperation at such a young age. He doesn't change much in the future. He is more of a loner and doesn't let himself get angry even when people push him around. He holds everything in just like he always has. There's something that happened to him and he runs away from it. You learn soon what that is and it's a part of the mystery that consumes the story. There's also the mystery of who he really he is. What is the wolf that lives inside him? All these dark elements make the story truly gripping. It was chilling to see how it all played out and see what happened at the end. It was pretty spectacular.

Overall: This was very dark but it was also a hidden darkness in the book that didn't overwhelm you. I loved the story and how it unfolded before my eyes and how I got to see Win's present and past. I got to see what shaped him. It was a crazy journey but it was also amazing.

       About the Author:
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.
For more info about the author and her new upcoming release Charm & Strange (June 11th, 2013) you can visit her at her website or twitter
(I'd watch what she does next if I were you)

Thanks to the author and Itching for Books Blog Tours for this tour and giveaway!


  1. Nice review. Thanks for participating :)

  2. This does sound like a gripping book. I am curious to know more about Win. Thanks for your review! :)

    1. Win was a pretty dynamic character. He had a lot of stuff going on so he was always interesting to read about.

  3. This is a second review I'm reading about this book so far and it sound really amazing. Even though it sounds really dark there is something really appealing about this book. Great review :)

    1. Sometimes dark book are worth reading when they are done right. And this is done right (:


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