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New Review! - Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix


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Teen Advisory Board Member Ava Reviews Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix 

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

The sequel to Forest of a Thousand Lanterns switches to Jade’s perspective. The wicked but stunning Empress Xifeng is slowly poisoning the Emperor, seeking to control the Great Forest. But the rightful heir to the throne, Jade, is determined to put an end to her reign, especially after Xifeng tries killing Jade, the one prophesied to bring her downfall. Using the stories her nursemaid taught her, Jade must collect five relics to raise the Dragon Guard, the only way to dethrone the Empress.


Though YA fairytale-retellings were my go-to for quite some time, I eventually lost interest. Well, at least until I read and reread Julie C. Dao’s Snow White spinoffs. Not to mention, it’s about time we have an all-Asian cast in an Asian-based fantasy world! While it’s fantastic that the number of Asian in entertainment is rising, most of the time those sources (E.g. novels, movies, etc) feature the struggle in being an outcast in society as a result of not being white. But this novel takes a whole new turn, casting the characters in a fun plot where they don’t have to struggle with their heritage, as being Asian is the norm.


Also, I love how the love interest defies stereotypes. Almost 100% of the time, the male love interest is this dark, brooding, handsome figure. But there are two stereotypes Dao defeats:

  1. The love interest is Asian. Asian men have a history of been viewed as unmasculine, just as Asian women have a history of being overly-sexualized. Although this factor is sort of a given, as Dao’s cast is entirely Asian anyway.

  2. He has the height of a dwarf. Many men struggle with the idea of dating a woman who’s taller than them, but this defies that expectation.


Love this fresh, diverse retelling of Snow White! It’s filled with more plot twists than I can count on both hands. Recommended to fans of the Lunar Chronicles, Caraval, and people who want more diversity in literature.

-Review written by Ava, Age 14

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix hit stores November 6th. Haven't read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns yet? Find it here!

Publisher's Rep Kevin Loves...

Dear Readers,
One of the first questions people ask me when they learn I’m a Children’s Book Buyer is do you really read all of the books you buy? Sadly the answer is NO. It’s impossible but I’m excited to introduce you to a group of people who give me a first look at everything being published each season, our publisher sales reps! I rely on them to help me discover debut gems, identify new trends and tell me what I should put on top of my never ending need to read pile. Each month a publisher rep will share one of their personal favorites with us. Happy Reading!
Books Inc. Co-Owner &
Senior Children’s Buyer

Readers, meet Kevin!

Atlas Obscura Explorer's Guide for the World's Most Adventurous Kid by Dylan Thuras


When I was a kid, one of the ways my mom would encourage me to read was by telling me that, through a book, I could travel anywhere in the world at any time, without ever leaving home. Books then became portals to other worlds and places. Few books capture this feeling for me as much as The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for The World’s Most Adventurous Kid (Workman Publishing), written by Atlas Obscura co-founder Dylan Thuras (and co-author of the bestselling book Atlas Obscura) and science writer and graphic novelist Rosemary Mosco, and illustrated by Joy Ang (who just so happens to also be a character designer for Adventure Time). Readers are taken on a remarkable cross-continent journey around the world to 47 countries and 100 of the strangest and most amazing places ever visited by humans. Explore the Giant Crystals of Naica, found in a recently-discovered cave complex in Mexico, which are seven time taller than a person and are heavier than an elephant, then go to the next page to learn of the world’s largest cave complex, the Han Son Doong cave in Vietnam, which is so big, you could fly a 747 jet airliner through it! From a spacecraft cemetery off the coast of New Zealand, to a lake of skeletons in India (where a freak hailstorm killed 200 people 1200 years ago), to Blood Falls in Antarctica (where a melting glacier is colored by iron to turn the water red), to an island of snakes in Brazil, readers are treated to one extraordinary adventure after another. For every kid who dreams of travel and adventure, and for every adult who feels the same, many wonders await in this fantastic book. (Available now.)

Publisher's Rep Kelly

About Kevin:I have worked in the book business in Northern California for over 30 years, in many guises, including over a decade as a bookseller (at Books Inc., in fact), as a distributor book buyer, as a media guide for authors, and as a publisher sales rep, both for a big house (Macmillan) and now as an independent sales rep with Book Travelers West, representing Workman Publishing, among others. I enjoy reading (of course), music of all sorts, culinary wonders, travel, great beaches, and spending time with my lovely wife. I am also an enthusiastic practitioner of both Yoga and Budo (Japanese martial arts).


The Flash

Friday Black, from Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, is a fiercely satiric collection where racism and unbridled capitalism are firmly under the author’s sway, but there are moments of tender magic here, too.  Not much drinking happens in these chimerical tales, but one of the stories has a character craving “Good” that make his head feel “the way an orange tastes,” so I started there and ended on the final story, “Through the Flash,” for the drink’s name.

The Flash

1 oz. Genever
1 oz. Orange Juice    
.5 oz Triple Sec
2 dashes Orange Bitters
Charred orange slice for garnish

Shake all (except orange slice) with ice.  Strain into a chilled coupe glass.  
Garnish with orange.

The Top 13 Taylor Swift Tunes That Remind Us of YA Books

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- Written by By Ava, Amanda, and Alannah


This list is a hybrid of two of our favorite things: YA novels and Taylor Swift. And did we mention 13 is Taylor Swift’s number?

*MSL stands for Most Suitable Lyric



1.The cover for THE BELLES is "Gorgeous"!

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle, one of the few able to temporarily remodel people’s dull faces into masterpieces. But if that’s not enough, Camellia also wants to be chosen as the Queen’s favorite, the most revered Belle who gets to live in the palace and tend to the royal family and the court.

MSL: ‘Cause you’re so gorgeous, it actually hurts

Author: Dhonielle Clayton

2. IT’S NOT LIKE IT’S A SECRET: a perfect "Love Story".

 It's Not Like It's a Secret by Misa Sugiura

Things begin to change when sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara moves to California, new state, new school, new… sexuality? Sana starts falling in love with Jaime Ramirez, and Jaime might even like her back. There’s just one problem: Sana’s friends and Jaime’s friends don’t trust each other. And perhaps another: Caleb is falling for Sana. A perfect love story. And another: Sana’s dad might be having affair. Hmm… not so perfect after all?

MSL: This love is difficult, but it’s real/Don’t be afraid we’ll make it out of this mess

Author: Misa Sugiura

3. THE SECRET OF A (love-witch’s) HEART NOTE is a bit "Delicate".

The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

Mim comes from a long line of love witches who use their powerful noses to brew elixirs. But there’s one catch: a love witch can’t fall in love without losing their gift of scent. So what to do when Mim starts falling for the popular soccer-star?

MSL: We can’t make any promises now, can we, babe?/But you can make me a drink

Author: Stacey Lee

4. Yael’s WOLF BY WOLF tattoos are a reminder of “Look What You Made Me Do".

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Long story short, Yael’s family dies in a Nazi concentration camp while Yael is genetically experimented upon, developing the ability to change her appearance. Now she wants to take revenge by entering a competitive motorcyclist with someone else’s face. The prize for winning? A dance with the Furher and the perfect time to draw a gun.

MSL: But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time

Author: Ryan Graudin

5. When you see a GENUINE FRAUD, do you ever get that "I Knew You Were Trouble" feeling?

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Jule wants to reinvent herself. Imogen, a million-dollar heiress, is the perfect ticket out of Jule’s hard-knock life. Against all odds, the two become the best of friends, but each have their own agendas when it comes to their friendship. Oh, and there might be a murder.

MSL: When the saddest fear comes creepin’ in/That you never loved me

Author: E. Lockhart

6. Problematic family? Obsessed ex? Heart melting romance? It’s A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, but I guess you could "Call It What You Want".

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre finds drama queens taking swings, jokers dressing up as kings, but they all fade to nothing when she looks at him. Feyre, a human girl, gets involved with the Faerie lands of Prythian and everything goes wrong. But who can she trust? And what about true love, anyway?

MSL: Starry eyes sparkin' up my darkest night

Author: Sarah J. Maas

7. It’s part of THE WINNER’S CURSE, there’s just a "Blank Space", and they’ll write your name.

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

In The Winner’s Curse trilogy, Kestrel is the daughter of the general whose empire is a military genius and enslaves those who are captured. She’s smart, crafty, and best of all, she’s not afraid to play games to get what she wants.

MSL: Find out what you want/Be that girl for a month/Wait the worst is yet to come

Author: Marie Rutkoski

8. Go ahead and SHATTER ME, but Juliette is saying "I Did Something Bad".

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

The Shatter Me series is steadily growing in popularity and there are no surprises why - this book’s main character is Juliette, a girl whose touch kills and has been locked up by the government. She had warned everyone, and now she’s coming for vengeance.

MSL: If a man talks s***, then I owe him nothing/I don't regret it one bit, 'cause he had it coming

Author: Tahereh Mafi

9. Beautiful as a CLOCKWORK ANGEL, a love forever in Tessa’s "Wildest Dreams".

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

"Wildest Dreams" fits the relationships in the Infernal Devices series perfectly. Both Will and Jem are absolute heartthrobs, but either way, Tessa’s relationship with either of them is destined to fail. Representing the bookworm in all of us, Tessa is smart, sharp-witted, and is not afraid to speak her mind.

MSL: And his voice is a familiar sound, nothing lasts forever/But this is getting good now

Author: Cassandra Clare

10. THE CROWN’S GAME harbors two "New Romantics".

The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye

Vika and Nikolai, the only two enchanters in Russia, enter the Crown’s game—a competition in magical ability. For the winner, the prize is being initiated as the Imperial Enchanter and advisor to the king. The loser faces death. Both are eager to compete, but it becomes clear that emotions may complicate things…

MSL: And every day is like a battle/But every night with us is like a daydream

Author: Evelyn Skye

11. From Elizabeth May’s THE FALCONER, Aileana has got some "Bad Blood" on her hands…

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The seeming paragon of an aristocratic girl in nineteenth century Edinburgh, she leads another life, a secret one, centered around her ability to sense the highly treacherous faery race, which she uses to hunt and kill them. With the help of Kiaran, a peculiar friend who may or may not be hiding something himself, Aileana has devoted her life to finding the fae that killed her mother. But when she finds out she’s the last of the falconers - a line of women gifted to hunt and kill the fae - the plot thickens.

MSL: So take a look what you’ve done/ ‘Cause baby now we’ve got bad blood, hey!

Author: Elizabeth May


12."Sparks Fly" in the THE TIME BETWEEN US

Time and Time Again by Tamara Ireland Stone

They met against all odds. She’s from Chicago in 1995, and he’s from 2012 San Francisco. Yet Bennet’s remarkable power to travel through space and time brings the two together, in Anna’s time, and their paths collide. As they get to know each other better, Anna and Bennet become, well, more than friends, and must realize the truth: How will Anna and Bennet be able to stay together when time threatens to knock Bennet back to his own time?

MSL: ‘Cause I see, sparks fly, whenever you smile

Author: Tamara Ireland Stone

13. The TO ALL THE BOYS I LOVED BEFORE letters’ closing-off phrase is probably "You Belong With Me", Lara Jean

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

When a mysterious force mails Lara Jean’s secret love letters To All The Boys [She’s] Loved Before (by Jenny Han), one by one, her former crushes are driven to confront her. But what’s written in each? "You Belong With Me" is a condensed version of the messages.

MSL: Been here all along so why can’t you see?/You belong with me

Author: Jenny Han