Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye {Blog tour review, recipe, & giveaway!}

Today, I'm incredibly honored to be a part of the blog tour for The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye! There are some really great stops on this tour, so be sure to scroll down to the links for all of them! I've got some great stuff for you---my review (hopefully I will be able to keep from gushing too much), a recipe for traditional Russian Tea Cakes, and a tour-wide giveaway including an ARC of The Crown's Game and a gorgeous tote designed by Evie Seo!

The Crown's Game 
by Evelyn Skye
♦publisher: Balzer + Bray
♦release date: May 17th, 2016
♦hardcover, 416 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: The Crown's Game, book 1
♦source: ARC from publisher for honest review
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.

Review: This beautiful book.  It was everything EVERYTHING I'd hoped it would be. And even more. 

I have to say I can't think of another book where I loved so many characters. There was an array of characters, each one compelling in their own way, and throughout the story, the author showed us so many facets of each of them. Almost all of them, even the darkest and most unlikeable of characters, has their genuine purpose and different sides to them making them not just a villain or just a heroine.

This era of the Russian empire was the perfect backdrop. Skye's gorgeous and descriptive writing brought these surroundings to life and I loved the touch of adding a few real historical details.  There is architecture and landscapes, gowns and costume balls. But the magic. Swoon. Seriously, the magic is what took me by surprise the most in this story. Above the breathtaking setting. Above the impossible romance. When I thought of magic being used for a competition, I was imagining dark, wicked, dangerous magic used against each other to the death. Well, this might have had a touch of that, but beyond that, was just beautiful.  It created wonder and awe and color and light...and bubbles (to my absolute glee). :D Yes, the magic and the way it was used in this story was what absolutely took my breath away.

The sweeping story twists and shocks---there was no part of this that I was able to predict.  Several times I found myself gripping the book, furiously turning pages, unable to decide who I wanted to triumph in the end. This first book, honestly, could have stood solidly and quite wonderfully on it's own, but I can't say I'm disappointed in the slightest that there is more to come! It's a definite must-read!!


Evelyn Skye 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 she isn't writing, Evelyn 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. THE CROWN'S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.

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And now, I have special bit of sweetness for you! 
To match the theme of the gorgeous Russian setting in The Crown's Game, (and so you can whip up a batch to munch on while reading it!), a recipe for Russian Tea Cakes! 
Shown here, with my gorgeous tea setting that I won from Evelyn in the Tsar's Guard character reveal giveaway! :D  I love it! ♥

These quaint little cookies are super simple! But oh, so, yummy and literally melt in your mouth!  This simple recipe has transcended cultures, originating in Russia, but finding it's way around the world and being known by many names, such as Snowballs, Butterballs, Meltaways, and Mexican Wedding Cookies. 

Here's how to make them: 
You'll need:
♠ 1 cup butter ,softened
♠ 1/2 cup powdered sugar
♠ 1-1/2 cup flour
♠ 1 teaspoon vanilla
♠3/4 chopped nuts (I use almonds, but whatever nut you prefer!)
♠About 1 cup of additional powdered sugar for coating after baking

~Cream the butter and powdered sugar together. Add in the flour, vanilla, and nuts and mix until a dough forms.  
~Drop tablespoon size doughballs onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. 
~Bake at 350 , 8-10 minutes or until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned.  
~Cool 5 minutes. Roll once in powdered sugar.  When cookies are completely cool, roll them in powdered sugar, once more for good measure and happiness. ;)

And that's it!! What'd I say---easy peasy, right?? And delish...♥

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NOW on to the giveaway!! 
You guys don't want to miss your chance to win 
an ARC & this gorgeous tote!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Don't forget to visit the rest of the stops on the tour!
Monday, February 29: Bookish Lifestyle - Review + Pinterest Boards
Tuesday, March 1: One Less Lonely Blog - Review
Wednesday, March 2: It Starts at Midnight - Review
Thursday, March 3: Stories & Sweeties - Review + Russian Tea Cake Recipe
Friday, March 4: The YA Book Traveler - Review + Dreamcast & Book Trailer
Saturday, March 5: Pandora's Books - Review
Sunday, March 6: Seeing Double in Neverland - Review
Monday, March 7: Out Of Time - Review + Song
Tuesday, March 8: Book Nerd Addict - Review + Favorite Quotes
Wednesday, March 9: Paper Fury - Review + Reasons to Read This Book!
Thursday, March 10: A Reader Under The Sea - Cover Reaction
Friday, March 11: The Broke and the Bookish - Review


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