Cover Love: The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

cover love 

I love how unique this cover is!  The central image on white is so stark and visible, and WHOA.  It takes the typical girl face cover and subverts it into a twisted conflagration--which I can only guess will become super important.  It screams VIBRANT MURDER MYSTERY.  And the text is weaved in so perfectly, with the fire leading the eye up from the tagline to the title and author name and then away in smoke.  It's like something you'd see in a Surrealist art exhibit.  I can't wait to see it in person. 



Blog Tour: Giveaway: The Tsar's Guard Spotlight Tour for The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye

I'm so excited to be part of the Tsar's Guard tour in anticipation of The Crown's Fate, the long-anticipated sequel of The Crown's Game, which was one of my favorite books of last year.  Today I'll be sharing with you my dream fancast for the main cast.  Or as close as I could get with the powers of Google and Pinterest combined.  My original intention was to use all Russian actors but that turned out to be a lot harder than it sounds.  Before we get started, feast your eyes on this gorgeous cover and the scintillating synopsis, then catch the end for information about the lovely author, a giveaway!, and additional tour stops. 

I'll Meet You There
Hardcover, 432 pages
Expected publication: May 16th, 2016 by Balzer + Bray
Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kepler's Books
The gorgeous and darkly compelling sequel to The Crown’s Game—perfect for fans of Red Queen and Shadow and Bone.

Magic is growing, shadows are rising, and the throne is at stake…

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.


The enchanter of Ovchinin island. A wildfire with flaming hair, fierce and vibrant, loyal and clever.  


The enchanter of Moscow, by way of the Kazakh steppe.  An artist in soul, imaginative and kind, guarded and dreaming. 


The tsesarevich of Russia.  A lionhearted playboy, hopeful and loving, expansive and trapped. 


The princess of Russia.  A lioness with claws out, feisty and brilliant, underestimated and indomitable. 


Servant of Galina, confidante of Nikolai. A wistful daydreamer, loyal and self-sacrificing, forgotten and forgiving. 


Vika's father.  A woodland baron, rugged and simple, mysterious and powerful. 


Nikolai's mentor.  An extravagant noblewoman, vain and uncompromising, ruthless and cunning. 


The owner of Cinderella's Bakery.  An un-fairy godmother, generous and open, sly and loving.  


Nikolai's mother.  A witch of the steppe, otherworldly and vicious, single-minded and betrayed. 


I'll Meet You There

Evelyn Skye is the New York Times bestselling author of THE CROWN’S GAME (out now!) and THE CROWN’S FATE (May 16, 2017). She was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When Evelyn isn’t writing, she can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies.

Author Links: Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram | Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Tour Schedule Link

Jan. 9th - Brittany's Book Rambles: The Crown's Fate Review
Jan. 10thSarcasm & Lemons: Fancast
Jan. 11th- The YA Book Traveler: History of Russian Crowns
Jan. 12th- Picnic Reads: Character-Based Book Tag
Jan. 13th- Book Nerd Addict: Inspired Tote Design

Jan.16th- Dazzled by Books: Top 5 Reasons I Love The Crown's Game
Jan. 17thRants and Raves of a Bibliophile: Characters Matched to Teas
Jan. 18thThe Book Buzz: New Enchanter
Jan. 19th- The Aus. Library: Famous Russian Fairytales
Jan. 20th My Thoughts Literally: Character Inspired Dessert

Jan. 23rdOmg Books and More Books: Books that Characters of TCG Would Enjoy
Jan. 24thIt Starts at Midnight: Virtual Tour of Russia
Jan. 25thNext Page Please!: Character Blog
Jan. 26thThe Book Nut: Playlist
Jan. 27thArctic Books: Make-up Looks

Jan. 30thTwo Chicks on Books: Pinterest Recipe Board
Jan. 31thLost in Ever After: Typical Date for Nikolai & Vika
Feb. 1st- Alexa Loves Books: Fashion Book Look
Feb. 2nd- Sophie Reads YA: Russian History In and Out of The Crown's Game
Feb. 3rd21st Century Once Upon A Times: Drink Your Way Through The Crown's Game

Feb. 6th- The Eater of Books: 10 Reason I'm Excited for TCF
Feb. 7th- A Thousand Words A Million Books: Top 5 Magical Moves in The Crown's Game
Feb. 8th- Seeing Double in Neverland: Fanmade Bookmarks & Swag
Feb. 9th- A Page With A View: YA Fantasy Books set in Russia
Feb. 10th- Dana Square: Recipe from The Crown's Game

Feb. 13th-YA Wednesdays: Favorite Quotes from The Crown's Game
Feb. 14th- Juniper Reads: Sorting Characters into Fandoms
Feb. 15th- Nicole's Novel Reads: Nail Polish Looks
Feb. 16th- The Queen Reads: What the Characters of TCG would take to a Deserted Island
Feb. 17th- A Perfection Called Books: The Crown's Fate Review


Book Fun: End of the Year Book Survey 2016

Welcome to the (slightly belated) end of the year book survey!  Questions are courtesy of the lovely Perpetual Page Turner.  I cut some out, though, because there were so many and I'm lazy. 

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

i think. this was really hard!

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?


 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? 

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?


 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?


11. Most memorable character of 2016?

kaz brekker

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016? 

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 


15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

oooh i'm really going to have to think about this... but the scene between blue and gansey on the clifftop was pretty damn amazing 

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most 

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)


19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

the boys + blue

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously?

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based solely On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure?

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016? 


23. Best 2016 debut you read? 

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? 

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016? 

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

but obviously i loved it 

what were your picks? also i swear i didn't mean to put the raven cycle on this list so much but GAH. 


Book Fun: Analyzing my Goodreads Year in Books, 2016 edition

year in books

Can you believe this year was over?  
Another post will be dedicated to analyzing it more fully, 
but I was looking at my Goodreads year in books thing and
thought I would share my thoughts with you. 
Post your years in books in the comments!
(And yes, I omitted my final total because it was only 66 
which is super sad. I blame my dissertation. 
Also it didn't fit on one screencap.) 


ARC Review: Release: Flying Lessons & Other Stories, anthology edited by Ellen Oh

review         book

I'll Meet You Theretitle: Flying Lessons & Other Stories
authors: Ellen Oh, Sherman Alexie, Jacqueline Woodson, Kwame Alexander, Walter Dean Myers, Meg Medina, Tim Tingle, Kelly J. Baptist, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Pena, Tim Federle, Grace Lin
pages: 240
format: Kindle e-ARC
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 4/5 (from hated to loved) or 6/10 (all books I've ever read)

Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.

From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

in depth

  • I'm excited to break my holiday blogging hiatus by telling you about this wonderful short story collection, a partnership between We Need Diverse Books and a slew of kidlit all-stars.  I'll admit, it's probably not something I would have picked up on my own.  I rarely read short stories that aren't adult literary stuff, and I don't read much middle grade that isn't fantasy.  But when the publisher approached me to do a feature and give an honest review, I was intrigued.  I always tell myself I should branch out, and so branch I did--with great success. 

  • Flying Lessons & Other Stories is aptly named.  It's about soaring, living, being.  Growing up.  Basketball.  Family drama.  Crushes.  Disappointments.  Most importantly, it's full of culture and diverse realities.  It's Own Voices.  It's about Latinx kids, Asian kids, black kids, Indian kids, white kids, disabled kids, kids discovering their gender and nascent sexuality (in an age-appropriate way).  There are echoes of power, privilege, and prejudice, but it isn't tragedy porn.  It's kids telling their stories, all kinds of stories, from a range of backgrounds.  They are the heroes.  They are hopeful.  A microcosm of what kidlit can be if we keep demanding representation from all voices.  

  • There are so many stories, I can't give a full critique of them all.  In brief: Matt de la Pena's story is a rare 2nd person gem about a young Mexican boy's basketball dreams.  Grace Lin's is the brief adventure of a girl servant in a Chinese-inspired fantasy setting.  Meg Medina's is about privilege and power for a Latinx girl who dreams of taking over her father's business. Tim Federle's is about a girl who wants to be called Sam, and how we define girls.  Kelly J. Baptist's is about a black boy connecting with his father's stories.  Tim Tingle's covers the way an uncle's silly versions of Choctaw folklore bring him closer to his nephew.  Jacqueline Woodson's is about escaping, being a person of color in a colorless town.  Soman Chainani's is about an Indian boy learning to let go.  Kwame Alexander's is a fanciful English essay in verse.  And Walter Dean Myers writes about wheelchair basketball bringing together father and son.  

  • Hopefully these short descriptions give you a taste of what this anthology has to offer.  I read it in a sitting, and enjoyed it vastly.  It does have the quirks of short stories that often irks me.  Everything ending in media res.  Some areas where I wanted more context, more description.  A few stories that seem too big to be shoved into little packages.  I'm also curious to see what actual middle graders will think.  These are the kind of stories I can appreciate now, literary and beautiful, but I'm not sure I'd have appreciated them as a 6th grader hung up on fantasy adventures.  

  • Then again, if I'd read it in school, I'd probably have loved it and loved hearing my classmates talk about it.  Maybe it's the book I didn't know I needed then.  I'm sure it's a book many of my marginalized peers needed then.  I wholeheartedly recommend it to both kids and adults.  The stories are poignant, with an authentic slice-of-life feel.  The voices are loud as only such masters of the craft can manage.  This anthology is whimsical, hopeful, dreamy, and wistful in the best way.  In the way that will make you (like me) want to read each of these authors again.  

in a sentence

Flying Lessons & Other Stories is a solid collection of "kids" telling their stories, all kinds of stories, from a range of backgrounds.  Of every kind of kid getting to be the hero.  


Note: I received this copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.