• The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

    What can I say? This couple had my heart on my sleeves.

  • Never Let Me Go

    A beautiful story of the fragility of life viewed through skewered lenses.

  • Night Circus

    The world that Morgenstern crafts is one that reeks of the cigar and smoke of the turn of the century England with its glamorous parties like The Great Gatsby, men with bowler hats in the Victorian Era, all with a splash of magic and romance.

  • Piratica I

    Piratica is a swashbuckling adventure, an over-the-top comedy, and of course, an unforgettable love story.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Guest Post by J. Nelle Patrick (Tsarina)

Hi guys! Today, I'm really excited to introduce J. Nelle Patrick (a.k.a. Jackson Pierce) onto Bookcase to Heaven™ to talk about Anastasia, one of the side characters in her February 27th YA release, TSARINA (Razorbill), as part of the TSARINA Blog Tour.

One of my all-time favorite animated movies is Anastasia (1997) and I am absolutely smitten with Dimitri and Anastasia-- definitely my favorite animated couple, hands-down. TSARINA is about Anastasia's brother, Alexei, and all the political intrigue, decadent luxury, fanatic mysticism (think: Rasputin) of the Tsarist era. Just take a look at the cover-- so pretty, isn't it?

There's a giveaway at the end of the post, so do hop by to try your luck.

Now, without further ado, let me pass the blog over to Jackson!

Imperial Russia swirls with rebellion.

The Reds are gaining ground, and the loyal Whites struggle to hold Saint Petersburg. But Natalya isn’t afraid. Wrapped in fur and tucked inside her lavish home, she feels safe. Alexei Romanov, heir to the Russian throne and her first love, has told her a secret: Hidden within the Winter Palace lies a Faberge Egg enchanted by the mystic Rasputin. With it, the Romanovs will never fall from power. The Reds will never take the country. And one day, Alexei will ascend the throne and Natalya will be beside him— the tsarina of Russia. 

But when the Reds raid the Winter Palace, the egg vanishes and the Romanovs are captured. Natalya must find the egg to save Alexei, her way of life, and her royal future. To do so, she’s forced to ally herself with the enemy— a young Red named Leo who wants the egg for his own purposes. But as they brave a war-battered landscape of snow and magic, Natalya realizes that the world isn’t as simple as it seemed back in Saint Petersburg. Nothing– not friends, not politics, and not love– are as clear as Red and White.

The Anastasia Story


She’s everyone’s favorite Romanov. In fact, she’s usually the only Romanov people know by name. If you’ve been reading the other posts in this blog tour, you already know that the animated Anastasia movie is basically all lies (link to that blog post here, please!). Why?

Because she’s the one who supposedly escaped and survived the executions.

Before I go on, I have to tell you something— this blog post is going to get kind of dark. So, to help, I’m going to put some photos of kittens here and there. If things are getting too dark for you, look at the kittens, okay?


Okay. Here we go.

Who was Anastasia?

Anastasia was the youngest of the Romanov sisters— her brother, Alexei, was the youngest over all. She was a pretty delightful and mischievous kid— one of the family doctors said she “held the record for punishable deeds in the family”. She played outdoors, liked acting, and was especially close to the other younger sister, Maria, who she shared a room with. When she grew older, she would visit the Red Cross hospital and play checkers with wounded soldiers and occasionally write poetry. Simply put, she was pretty cool. I think you would have liked her.

http://31.media.tumblr.com/7df128ae9ebc99751eb9458e8745d12f/tumblr_mo8iuf1BW51qbioujo1_500.gif (Anastasia and her siblings)

What happened to her?

The entire Romanov family was executed in Ekaterinberg by a group of Reds who’d had them under various forms of house arrest for over a year. The execution was brutal— I won’t go into detail, but know that I cried over it several times while researching TSARINA. Actually, if I think about it too hard, I still cry over it.


Why do so many people think she survived the execution?

When the bodies of the Romanov family were excavated in 1991, they’d been exposed to the elements so long they were skeletonized. Through DNA and skeletal analysis, they were able to sort out who the Tsar and Tsarina were, as well as the handful of servants that had been executed with them. They also were able to identify Olga and Tatiana, the oldest two Romanov sisters, and then a third skeleton, which they believed to be Maria.

And then they were out of skeletons. Anastasia and Alexei weren’t there.

Actually, it could have been Maria and Alexei that were missing— the Russian scientists said that Anastasia was that third found skeleton, and it was Maria who was unaccounted for, while the American scientists working the case said it the third found skeleton was Maria and Anastasia was the missing daughter. Maria and Anastasia were similar in size and, obviously, would have the same mitochondria DNA since they had the same parents, so it was impossible to tell for sure. For the sake of this post, let’s assume Anastasia was the missing daughter.

So, doesn’t that mean it’s possible she and Alexei survived?

It never was particularly likely, seeing as how the soldiers who were there that night insisted that everyone was killed. I mean, why kill the servants and the dogs (seriously— they killed the family’s dogs) if you’re just going to let a legitimate heir to the throne survive?

But, the whole matter was put to bed in 2007, when two final skeletons were found in the forest near Ekaterinberg. These skeletons were in really bad shape. While the other skeletons had been burned and buried, these had been cut up, smashed, and appeared to have acid damage. The theory is that the Reds didn’t want anyone to know that the royal family was dead— at least not right away— so they wanted to do a really, really good job of hiding the bodies. Because Anastasia and Alexei were the smallest…

(you’re going to need a kitten for this)

…the Reds used their bodies to test out various disposal techniques— like dissolving them in acid, burning them, throwing them down a well, etc. When that didn’t work, they decided it was easiest to just bury the rest of the family and leave Anastasia and Alexei’s bodies elsewhere. They were hoping that anyone who found the bodies would assume these were just regular-old-graves, since the number of bodies wouldn’t match the number of missing Romanovs.

I heard some lady says she’s the real Anastasia.

Yeah, that lady is lying. Or maybe she’s just confused. I don’t know. Over the years, dozens of people have claimed to be Anastasia. Some have even claimed to be Maria, Tatiana, or Olga, and a few men have insisted that they’re Alexei. I would love itif that were true, but it’s not. DNA proves that the entire Romanov family is accounted for, now. Even if we can’t be totally sure whether it was Maria or Anastasia temporarily lost with Alexei, we now have seven bodies to match with seven family members.

Where is Anastasia now?

Before Anastasia and Alexei’s bodies were found, Russia held a state funeral for the other Romanovs, and interred them in the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. You can see video from the funeral services here:


When Anastasia and Alexei were found, their bodies were interred alongside the rest of their family. They’re all together now in the St. Catherine chapel of the Cathedral.

Here is something that I think you should remember though: The most interesting thing about Anastasia isn’t the theory that she might have survived. The most interesting thing about Anastasia is that, really, she wasn’t that interesting. She was just like you, or me, or any other teenager. She happened to be royalty, sure, but she also loved her siblings, was a bad speller, ate too much chocolate, and had a purple bedroom with butterflies on the walls.

So, instead of remembering what didn’t happen her escape— maybe we can remember the things that did happen, and the Romanov family as they really were: People.

People with kittens, in fact:




J. Nelle Patrick is the pseduonym for twenty-nine year old Jackson Pearce. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with a slightly cross-eyed cat and a lot of secondhand furniture. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and a minor in Philosophy. She auditioned for the circus once, but didn’t make it; other jobs she’s had include obituaries writer, biker bar waitress, and receptionist. She currently coaches a winterguard at a local high school.

Jackson began writing when she got angry that the school librarian couldn’t tell her of a book that contained a smart girl, horses, baby animals, and magic. Her solution was to write the book herself when she was twelve. Her parents thought it was cute at first, but have grown steadily more concerned for her ever since.

Jackson is also the author of a series of retold fairytales.


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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I'm Back In A Whirlwind

Hi guys,

I know that I'm officially the lousiest blogger ever. I realize that the more often I take breaks from blogging, the harder it becomes to get back into the game. (And the higher my To-Be-Read pile grows, and the more emails I start to ignore, and the rustier I find myself at writing reviews, and the longer my break becomes.) It's like a self-perpetuating vicious cycle which I know has lost me quite some momentum in everything book-related except for my favorite pastime of reading (I'm still reading, never fear!), but the inertia of inactivity builds up and the time for me to snap out of it is


Well, yes. In order to actually get some action done on this blog, I've decided to post do an update post on what you can expect from the blog in the next few months or so. So for those of you who still check back regularly (my page views say "yes"-- that there are some of you sweethearts who do that), read this and don't be disheartened by the lack of posts and please don't give up on this blog (I AM HERE FOR THE LONG RUN). 

So, here goes.

Current State of the Union

My Blog Tours

I am organizing several blog tours for some of the Young Adult debuts which I am highly anticipating! Most of them are YA Contemporary novels-- there is a good slate this year, and I'm pretty excited. But, the nearest blog tour is starring a YA historical fiction piece, PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG (Anne Blankman, April 22nd 2014 by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins).

I will be opening sign-ups for that soon-ish on this blog and through my mailing list (to those of you who have signed up to be tour hosts, you will be getting an email about this!). Please support me, Anne and the marvelous story of a girl during Nazi Germany and the various secrets, romances and dark plots swirling around in a melting pot of scandals, conspiracies and propaganda. Gosh, the history geek in me is squealing.


Well, if you take a brief look at my current e-reader, the titles are very contemporary-oriented:

  1. Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern (Hmm… Is it just me, or does the cover and tone just remind you of Eleanor & Park? Which is not a bad thing to be reminded of.)
  2. 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen
  3. How To Meet Boys by Catherine Clark
  4. On the Fence by Kasie West
  5. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
  6. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  7. What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin
  8. Sekret by Lindsay Smith

If I finish reading the novel, I will review it. You can expect at least 4 to 5 reviews to come since these are all brilliant titles! But who knows, my interest in contemporary novels might wane and then you will see me reading Martin's A Game of Thrones (never!) or picking up Dostoevsky's Crime & Punishment again (I've been trying to find the right mood and setting to read this book for more than a month and I'm still not done with it).

What I've Read So Far (and have failed to keep track on Goodreads)

1. I've been re-reading the Harry Potter series, yay! It's so good, so funny, so familiar and homely and all things Hogwarts-ish that looking at it just makes me feel all happy and fuzzy on the inside. I'm currently in the middle of PoA, and I will be moving onto GoF which is my favorite HP book a few years back-- let's see how it stands now.

2. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (I heard it's Jenny Han's favorite book. It was lovely, but not great. On a side note, I think A LOT like Cassandra, it's freaky.)

3. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally. (Fantastic. Makes me want to play football. Sam Henry is the love of my life.)

4. Prisoner of Night and Fog. (Haven't read a good WWII YA novel for ages, this one meets all expectations and more!)

TOTAL COUNT: 6 books 

All in all, not bad for one and a half months into 2014! 

Signing off for now, will be back soon with blog tour updates and a review :-)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes—From Cleopatra to Camus

Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes—From Cleopatra to Camus
Author(s): Kelly Murphy, Hallie Fryd

This book compiles photos and life stories of 50 of the sexiest men and women from history and asks the essential question: Would you really want to date them? Some are artists, some are scientists, and many are political or military leaders, but all have had a lasting impact on human life—and a sizable impact on their admirers as well. Each entry describes the period in which the heartthrob lived and includes essential stats, hilarious sidebars, and, of course, a “crushability” ranking: a measurement of how crush-worthy these people really are, based on their relative levels of heroism (or villainy).

Published January 7th 2014.


Get the skinny on 50 of history’s hottest heartthrobs and rekindle your romantic imagination with the new book, Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes-- From Cleopatra to CamusDelve into the details of the romantic lives (as well as the key contributions to history) of this attractive collection of charismatic men and women from the ages. From the smoldering Pablo Picasso and the electric Nikola Tesla to the chic Coco Chanel, this book and blog tour will inspire you to make a date with history—just in time for Valentine’s Day!

As a History student, I've always had a love-hate relationship with the subject I'm studying. There are moments when the reason why I study History to elude me, such as when I'm typing a lengthy response to one of those Structured Essay or Source-Based Questions. And then, there are moments like this which make me remember why I like History so so much.

Reading this book was a superb experience in itself-- for the first time, I was looking at historical personalities through the lenses of modern-day idolatry. They were portrayed in glamorous pictures, given a simple breakdown of their love life, areas of influence, their best features and also a heat factor. It was almost like The Bachelor starring famous and infamous men and women in history, the ones who might have ruled a nation, inspired a war or created a long-lasting legacy-- both scandalous and otherwise.

One of my favorites was Sylvia Plath, of whom I knew close to nought. I've enjoyed her poetry, though sometimes they were too morbid for my taste, but other times, I've tended to avoid her as much as I can.  But the few pages on her life in this novel were brilliant and captivating to the maximum-- her heartbreaking and unstable marriage to Ted Hughes that was described as "star-crossed" by contemporary author, Erica Jong; her initial failure in writing; her notorious poetry collection, Ariel, after her breakup with Hughes; her eventual depression and suicide. With wittiness and flair, this non-fiction novel showcased Plath's life and transfixed me using chapter dividers like "Best Features", "Why She Matters" and "In Her Own Words", convincing me of her dark seduction and the visceral power of her words. 

Wonderfully written, this book is a must for any history lover or anyone who has ever eagerly Googled the young pictures of certain historical figures for pure fun (honestly, you should be a history junkie if that was the case). Historical Heartthrobs will inform, educate, entertain and maybe, even make a history fan out of you.

All I can say is 'thank-you' to the two genius writers who thought up of a concept like this book and made it happen-- history has never seemed more fun.

Source: For review purposes from Zest Books (as part of the blog tour)


Sponsored by Zest Books.

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