Month: June 2016

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye | Debut Author Book Review

Posted June 13, 2016 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye | Debut Author Book ReviewThe Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
Series: The Crown's Game #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 17, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on AmazonBarnes & Noble
5 Stars

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love... or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear... the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

I pretty much knew I was going to love this book when I read the synopsis and discovered that it takes place in Russia during the time of the Ottoman Empire. Combine that with two enchanters, magic, an ancient game, opulent St. Petersburg, and a forbidden love story and I was sold. I’m happy to say that The Crown’s Game was everything I had hoped for and so much more! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Skye does a wonderful job of blending history with fantasy in a way that had me convinced that this magic and the game is real, and that these enchanters really existed all those years ago. The people and the culture and the setting… it’s all very Russian. The magic just makes it all sparkle.

2. The idea of the actual Crown’s Game is brilliant, and the world-building that goes along with it is so well done. When two enchanters are born in one generation, they must battle each other in a set of magical tasks to see which one is fit to become the Tasr’s on and only enchanter. The other one dies. In this story we have Vika, a mysterious girl from a small town, and Nikolai, the best friend to the son of the Tsar (Pasha). Pasha’s birthday is coming up, so the Tsar instructs these two enchanters to engage in a magical battle to make Pasha’s birthday something special. The battle begins, and the beauty and opulence that encompasses St. Petersburg as a result of this magic is amazing. I won’t give too much away, but I absolutely must mention the intricate system of fountains and color-changing lights that fill the city’s canal system. That entire scene was beautiful, and is still my favorite in the entire book.

3. The characters are great, but I was so swept up in the magic that I never ended up caring about any of them. I know this will change in book #2, though. I know, it’s so weird that I’m allowing this. I’ve always had this rule that I must connect with at least one character in order to even finish a book. So why did I continue even though that didn’t happen this time? And why did I give it a 5-star rating? Guys, it’s like I was hypnotized. I was so captivated, so intrigued, so mesmerized, that I didn’t even notice I wasn’t connecting until I sat down to write my review.

4. I owe my feelings about this book to Evelyn’s writing. She has such a way with words, and wrote such beautiful scenes. There’s one scene that takes place on a little island that one of the enchanters created for one of their tasks. The other enchanter followed along behind and created magical benches that, when you sit on them, transport you to an exotic location where you get to hear and smell and see everything. It was a beautiful, scene, and so wonderfully written and described. I just loved it.

5. The romance is pretty non-existent in this book. There are hints of it and some somewhat unrequited love (?) going on, but it just wasn’t developed into much of anything. Again, that might change in book #2. I was ok with this because everything is so mysterious in this book that you never really know for sure what’s going to happen anyway.

6. The book moves really slowly, but that was fine with me. I did have some trouble getting into it in the beginning, but then I was hooked and I got swept away. If you find that it’s not grabbing you like you hoped, just hang in there and keep going. Let it get its hooks into you.

7. The ending pretty much slaughtered my feels. Like, what do I even do while I wait for the second book?

Overall, this was a very beautiful, magical, mysterious, and captivating tale. I loved the setting and the magic, but I loved the way in which it was written and pieced together the most. I can’t wait to see what happens next, especially after that ending!

5 Stars

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson | Book Review

Posted June 10, 2016 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 0 Comments

The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson | Book ReviewThe Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
Series: The Remnant Chronicles #2
Published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers on July 7, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 470
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
4 Stars

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save Lia's life, her erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: There's Rafe, who lied to Lia but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be savages. Now that she lives among them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.

I am having the hardest time coming up with a strategy for reviewing this book! I read it in February of this year, and I’m so overwhelmed by my feelings that I’ve pretty much rendered myself speechless. I also tend to struggle with reviewing the second book of a series because things are not resolved yet and I love the world and the story and the characters just like I did in the first book. So naturally, my review always ends up looking a bit like my review of the first one. I can’t put off reviewing this book any longer, though, especially since my wish was just granted on netgalley and I’m one of 50 people who gets to read the final book in this series, The Beauty of Darkness, two months early!

Bottom line, I love this series and I loved this book. There are twists and turns throughout both books, and the world is super dynamic and well fleshed out. Basically everything I said in my review of The Kiss of Deception still applies (I told you this would happen). We also get to learn more about Lia and her gift, which has changed since her arrival in Venda. Again, we are torn between who to trust and what to think. The culture and really the entire world of Venda is terrifying and unique, and even though I did not love the setting and the barbaric secondary characters, I really drank everything in because it was just so unique to me. We get to learn more about Kaden and his life. His bond with the Komizar is creepy, yet captivating. Rafe, of course, is still noble and wonderful. I don’t know how Pearson does it, but I am such a fan of her ability to weave such a crazy detailed story together in way that makes sense! AND to do it through multiple points of view? She’s a phenomenal writer!

The writing is still amazing, and my heart is still fully invested even though Pearson threw all of us off the edge of a cliff with this ending. Guys, it’s brutal. Considering how close we are to the release of the final book in the series you might want to heed my warning and wait until you have The Beauty of Darkness in your hands (or are able to instantly download it off Amazon with the click of a button) before reading The Heart of Betrayal. It might actually extend your life if you do.

4 Stars

My Favorite Works of Art | Roses & Rot Blog Tour

Posted June 8, 2016 by Jana in About Me, Blog Tour, Book Spotlight, Giveaway / 3 Comments

My Favorite Works of Art | Roses & Rot Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop along the Roses & Rot tour, hosted by The Irish Banana Review! In Roses & Rot, sisters Imogen and Marin are accepted to a very elite post-grad arts program, and this school ends up being way different than they expected. The book itself is very atmospheric and the writing is beautiful. Plus, Neil Gaiman blurbed it… so there you go!

I get to do something a little different today for my blog tour stop, and I’m pretty excited about it. I got my undergraduate degree in graphic design and art history, so art is basically my life. I’m all too familiar with the question the book’s synopsis asks us: “How much does an artist need to give up to create great art?” I’ve studied a lot of art and traveled around the world to see some my favorites (but not all!), so today I’m going to share some of my favorite pieces of art, many of which were created by artists who sacrificed it all. I had so much fun going through hundreds of pages of my class notes from all my art history courses as I decided which works to pick.


1. Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh (saw this at the MoMA)
2. Water Lilies by Claude Monet
3. Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap by Pieter Bruegel
4. Rise of the Carthaginian Empire by Joseph Mallord William Turner
5. Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters by Hendrick Avercamp
6. The Entrance to the Grand Canal, Venice by Canaletto
7. Salcombe Estuary, South Devon by Henry Thomas Dawson
8. School of Athens by Rafael (saw this at the Vatican)
9. View of the Pic du Midi d’Ossau in the Pyrenees, with Brigands by Clarkson Stanfield
10. The entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo (sat in this chapel at the Vatican)

Are you an art history lover like I am? What are some of your favorite artworks?

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard
Published by Saga Press on May 13, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Fairy Tale
Add to Goodreads
Buy: Amazon • B&N • IndieBound • iBooks • Book Depository

Imogen and her sister Marin have escaped their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, be it art or love.

What would you sacrifice in the name of success? How much does an artist need to give up to create great art?

Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn’t imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As adults, Imogen and her sister Marin are accepted to an elite post-grad arts program—Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there’s more to the school than meets the eye. Imogen might be living in the fairy tale she’s dreamed about as a child, but it’s one that will pit her against Marin if she decides to escape her past to find her heart’s desire.

About Kat:

Kat Howard lives in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, anthologized in year’s best and best of collections, and performed on NPR. Roses and Rot is her debut novel. You can find her on twitter at @KatWithSword.

Also, Shane Leonard took her photo, and she’s super grateful.

Website | TwitterTumblr

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

6/6: Such A Novel Idea – Playlist
6/7: Cosying Up With Books – Review
6/8: That Artsy Reader Girl – Art History Post
6/9: The Quiet Concert – Review
6/10: Fiction Fare – Q&A
6/13: No BS Book Reviews – Q&A
6/14: Curling Up With A Good Book – Guest Post
6/15: Lilybloombooks – Review
6/16: Reads All the Books – Review
6/17: Fangs & Fur Fantasy Books – Review

Release Day Happiness for White-Hot Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves

Posted June 7, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Spotlight / 2 Comments

Release Day Happiness for White-Hot Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves

I don’t usually participate in release day blitzes, but Tracey Garvis Graves is and always will be my one and only exception. I love everything she’s ever written, and I can’t wait to read the conclusion of Kate and Ian’s love story! White-Hot Hack is out today, and this is basically the best news you’ll receive all day so there you go.

White-Hot Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves
Series: Kate & Ian #2
Published: June 7, 2016
My review of book #1: Heart-Shaped Hack
Genres: Adult, contemporary, romance
Read the prologue!
Add to Goodreads
Buy: Amazon • B&N • Apple • Kobo

Their love story began in Heart-Shaped Hack. Join Kate and Ian for the thrilling conclusion in White-Hot Hack.

When cybercriminals doxed undercover hacker Ian Bradshaw and forced him to flee, he begged Kate Watts for forgiveness and vowed never to hurt her again. He also convinced her to marry him, and when their idyllic summer on Roanoke Island comes to an end, the newlyweds relocate to their new home deep in the heart of Virginia’s horse and wine country. Ian still struggles with boundaries, but he keeps Kate’s lingerie drawer filled with surprises, and there’s no shortage of number-six kisses. There’s even a fast, new car to replace his beloved Shelby.

Ian promised Kate that life with him would never be boring, but spending her days picking out paint colors and going to Pilates isn’t going to cut it. Meanwhile, Ian discovers that building a white-hat security firm from the ground up seems harder the second time around, and he might have underestimated how much he’d miss the undercover work he walked away from. To make matters worse, the hacktivists are threatening national security, and the task force could really use Ian’s help.

Kate and Ian have always worried that their past would catch up to them, and when faced with the biggest showdown of their lives, they must capitalize on the one thing they excel at most: teamwork. Ian claims no one is a better hacker than him, but in order to triumph, he’ll have to prove it. And if he can’t, he risks losing the woman whose heart he worked so hard to hack.

About Tracey:

Tracey Garvis Graves is a New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into twenty-seven languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, and Cherish.

Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads


Apollycon ’17 Venue, Hotel, Volunteer, Ticket, & Schedule Info + FAQ’s

Posted June 3, 2016 by Jana in Bookish News, Giveaway / 0 Comments

Apollycon Header
Hey there! I’m one of 25 official Apollycon 2017 bloggers so over the next year I’ll be giving you all the information on the conference so you know exactly what’s going on.

Ok, guys. This post has all the information about Apollycon you could possibly need. Seriously, it’s info city over here. Today we’re announcing the venue for the event and how to book hotel rooms there at a discounted rate. You’ll also find information on signing up to volunteer at Apollycon, where to go to buy tickets, the full events schedule, and a bunch of answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.

The Venue

Apollycon 2017 will be held at the beautiful DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando!

Go look at the website! This hotel is beautiful!

Hotel Rooms Available

There is a block of rooms reserved at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, at a discounted rate. To book a room, go here. You can book a room for an arrival as early as 3/19/2017, and check out as late as 3/31/2017 with access to the Apollycon 2017 rate. These rooms will go quickly, so book early to make sure you don’t miss out. If by chance the room block is sold out, you may still contact the hotel to inquire about other available rooms, but they may not have the discounted rate.

Want to Volunteer at Apollycon?

Sign up here to volunteer at Apollycon! Please be sure to thoroughly read the form prior to submitting.


Tickets can be purchased here! The ticket sale will be live at 12PM EST on Friday, June 3rd, 2016. Please note that there has been a ticket update: The FAST PASS (which was previously announced) will no longer be available for purchase. For more info, check out the Apollycon tickets page, or the Apollycon website.

Event Schedule

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Time TBD – On-site Registration Opens

2pm-5pm – Exclusive Titan Signing:
This signing will be for Titan pass holders only. All attending authors and vendors will be on site during this session as well. This signing will end promptly at 4PM. If you still have books you need to have signed, you may attend the General Signing session on Saturday.

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

Time TBD – On-site Registration Opens

12pm-5pm – General Signing Session:
This session is free to all attendees! Please keep in mind that we are asking that you still register to attend the event (registration opens at 12PM EST today). All authors and vendors will be on site and available at this time. Some authors will be ticketed and/or have book limits (that may differ from the general book limitations which can be found in the FAQ section below), so please be prepared to adhere to the specified instructions.

The signing will end promptly at 5PM, as we will need to clear the space for the after party which will be occurring later that evening.

8pm-11pm – Demigod After Party:
You must purchase a Demigod pass in order to attend. (This is included with both the Titan AND the Apollyon pass, so you won’t need to purchase 2 separate passes.) The party will include:

  • 1,001 Dark Nights gift bags for the first 300 people! – Be among the first 300 people to arrive, and you will get to take home a bag filled with goodies!
  • Mingle with your favorite authors! – Featured authors & cover model(s) will be in attendance!
  • Photobooth Fun – We will have a photo booth with fun props where you and your friends can capture the fun!
  • Hit the dance floor with your friends! – We will have a DJ bringing the tunes!
  • Giveaways! – There will be chances to win gift cards, an iPad, a Kindle Fire tablet, signed books, and more throughout the party!

Frequently Asked Questions

The Saturday general signing is free. Do I still need to register?
Yes. If you solely wish to attend the Saturday signing (which is FREE), we are still asking that all attendees register for a general signing ticket.

Are there ID requirements or an age limit to enter the event?
Plan to bring your ID with you when picking up your registration on site.

What are my transport/parking options for getting to the event?
There will be on-site paid parking available at the venue hotel.

What are the book limitations?
You may bring as many books from home as you’d like, but you can only get 5 books per author signed at a time. You’ll be asked to go to the back of the line to get any additional books signed by the same author. **Please note: There may be some authors that have a different book limit (less than 5), but we will make a formal announcement on the Apollycon site/social media closer to the event.

Is my registration/ticket refundable/transferrable?
All paid passes/registration will be fully refundable until January 1st, 2017. Beyond that point, it will be transferable (so you can resell your pass to another attendee) should you no longer be able to attend.

I plan to sign up to volunteer. Do I still need to pay for a pass?
Yes. If you are interested in getting the swag/items that comes with the Titan or Apollyon passes, you must still purchase the a pass. If you purchase the Titan pass, and are selected to be an Apollycon volunteer, you will still be granted access to the full Friday signing that comes along with it.

Can I purchase books at the event?
Yes! There will be an onsite bookseller with books for purchase (Hours of operation will be posted closer to date of the event.). Self-published titles will be sold by the author at their respective tables, at the author’s discretion. As we get closer to the event, we will provide a list of books that will be available for purchase at the event. **Please note: There may be limited titles/formats available through the bookseller, so if you have specific titles you’d like to have for the signing, your best bet is to purchase them before the event.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?
You can reach the Apollycon 2017 event organizers (Steph & Hannah) using the messaging options on the Apollycon social media pages, or at apollyconevent[at]gmails[dot]com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

– For more FAQ’s, check out the Frequently Asked Questions page on the Apollycon website.
– For additional information regarding this event, including attending authors & vendors, check out the Apollycon website.