Tag Archives: Imperial Russia

High court drama

28 Nov

Several years ago, I had a 4th grader named Maria, who was obsessed with Imperial Russia. The fiction she wrote was always set there. She was a dramatic student, but I always enjoyed reading what she wrote. I thought about her as I read Evelyn Skye’s The Crown’s Game.

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Publisher’s Summary: 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 liked this because of the setting. It was just real enough to feel authentic; just magical enough to feel unique. It includes all the romantic and dramatic things my former student loved about Imperial Russia: high court drama, St. Petersburg at its most glorious, and secret machinations behind the scenes.

The Crown’s Game is a wonderful place to lose yourself for a few hours, or a few days. Maria is a 7th grader now, but I hope she’s picked this one up.

The CYBILS Awards Announced

18 Feb

With Valentine’s Day and Fiona’s surgery, I almost missed the announcement of the CYBILS Awards. I had the great pleasure to serve as a Round 2 judge for YA non-fiction, and it was a wonderful experience. It was my first opportunity to serve on this sort of committee and I learned a lot about book evaluation and interpreting award criteria. And here is our choice for this year’s YA Nonfiction winner:

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia

by Candace Fleming

Schwartz and Wade Books

Unknown

With its breathtaking scope and Fleming’s narrative finesse, The Family Romanov will lure even history-phobic readers deep into this fascinating – and comprehensive – history of the powerful and ill-fated Romanovs – the last ruling monarchy of Russia. Fleming retells the political and personal conflicts that lead up to the Romanovs’ eventual assassination and Lenin’s rise to power with the fluid storytelling of novelist, with sidebar material illuminating the contrasting lives of Russia’s lower castes and their growing frustration with their Tsar. Impeccably sourced and featuring well-selected historical photographs, The Family Romanov is both a wonderful introduction to this tumultuous, pivotal period of Russian history and a riveting tale of wealth, power, and political corruption that sets the record straight about the fascinating Romanovs and the fate of the notorious Grand Duchess Anastasia. With its well documented sources and unusual center photo placement, this title should not be missed in any young adult nonfiction collection.

If you are looking for something really good to read, check out the full list of the CYBILS Award winners.

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