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Friday, 26 April 2013

Book Talk: Dreaming Anastasia series by Joy Preble

I am so excited to tell you about this book! I read it last year and I FELL IN LOVE. With the story, with the writing voice, and of course, with a certain blue-eyed Russian...

!6-year-old Chicago resident Anne Michaelson has been having some seriously weird dreams. She knows that she's not herself in the dream, but rather, another girl, however it's not until she dreams in the dream that she realises just who she is dreaming as: none other than Anastasia Romanov, who is not as dead as everyone thinks. Not even close.

Anyone familiar with Russian folklore will have a basic understanding of the fairytale "Vasilisa the Brave" -- basically, another version of Cinderella. It starts off the same, but when Vasilia's evil stepmother sends her off to the hut of Baba Yaga -- a child-eating witch from whom no one has ever escaped -- to find some light for their cabin, Vasilisa outwits the witch with the Babushka doll her dying mother gave her (who can talk, as it's a fairytale). Vasilisa makes it home safely, and the light burns so brightly it kills the malevolent stepmother, and they all lived happily ever after. It is Baba Yaga who, compelled with a spell by the Brotherhood, a magic-practising order of monks who are still loyal to Tsar Nicholas II, rescues Anastasia from that basement before she can be shot by the Bolsheviks' cronies. Baba Yaga takes Anastasia to her hut in the forest, where she must remain until the girl spoken of in the prophecy -- Anne, who the Brotherhood must find, and will remain immortal until they do so.

This is how we get to the first real scene: Anne, with her bff Tess, at a ballet, being watched by Mr Blue Eyes. None other than our very own Russian hottie/stalker, the gorgeous, adorable, and very yummy Ethan Kozninsky.

You really don't need to know much or anything really about the history of the period to enjoy this novel -- God knows I only had a basic understanding and now it's one of my favourite books ever! However, for the sake of explaining  for anyone who doesn't already know, the people were starving and most disliked their leader, who was weak, and this lead to the eventual rise of power of the Bolsheviks. So, anyone who loves history, you will adore this book, and anyone who thinks they don't, well, don't knock it till you try it. Give it a chance. I never, ever read historical fiction until this book. The historical-meets-fantasy-meets-romance works like a charm. No pun intended.

The book description on Amazon:

Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.

In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…

Books in this series:

Dreaming Anastasia
Anastasia Forever

Star rating: 5/5 -- of course!

I love this book. Adore it, even. The action is fast-paced, the plot intriguing  the characters too lovable for words (Anne is definitely in my top 5 favourite protagonists, and Ethan is in my top 3 book-guys-I-am-in-love-with. I think he's number 1. That's how awesome. Also, the villain, who I won't name yet, is in my top 5 most-hated-villains, aka book-characters-I'd-like-to-smack-in-the-face-with-a-frying-pan).

I had the AMAZING privilege to be on the street team for Anastasia Forever, too! And I got a signed ARC (advance reading copy) that made me so happy I screamed and trembled with unprecedented excitement. This series DEFINITELY gets better as it goes along. I recommend it sky-highly.

AND, as if I wasn't excited enough, I'm going to be on the blog tour for Ms Preble's new book, THE SWEET DEAD LIFE! I am scheduled to post an interview on the 15th of May, and I will be GIVING AWAY a copy of the book to ONE LUCKY READER! Make sure you tell your friends and enter enter enter!


If anyone has any suggestions for questions they'd like me to ask Joy Preble, I'll be taking requests for the next few days, and any I think are good I will add to the list to email to the publisher. Just post them in the comments, but bear in mind that I have to get these to her quickly, so your deadline is Sunday.

I've read a review copy of TSDL, and let me tell you, it is as good as I'd hoped. Better. But that, my friends, is another story...

So, to conclude, go buy a copy of Dreaming Anastasia today! You won't be disappointed. And don't forget to be back here on the 15th! Spread the word!