August 31, 2012

Blog Tour: (You) Set Me on Fire by Mariko Tamaki

Hello wonderful readers!
Thanks for stopping by the blog for our tour stop for

(You) Set Me On Fire by Mariko Tamaki

presented by Penguin Canada!

This is a story about college, about fire and also about love.

Allison Lee is seventeen and off to college in the fall. So far, she’s been in love once (total catastrophe) and on fire twice (also pretty bad). Both love and fire have left their scars.

Looking a little more burnt chicken and a little less radiant phoenix, Allison takes up residence in Dylan Hall (a.k.a. Dyke Hall) at St. Joseph’s College, where she discovers the true gift of freshman year: the opportunity to reinvent yourself. Miles away from the high school she’s happy to leave behind, her all-female dorm is a strange new world, home to new social circles and challenges. Allison still feels like the odd girl out … until Shar appears. Beautiful and blinding, Shar quickly becomes the sun at the centre of Allison’s universe, drawing her in with dangerous allure.

Will Allison get burned again? And, if she does, what kind of scars will she earn this time?

(You) Set Me on Fire by Mariko Tamaki
Publication Date:  September 4, 2012
Publisher:  Penguin Canada

I couldn’t find a trailer, so here’s a song!
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** This title was provided to us by the publisher for an honest review.
We were in no way paid for our opinion ** 


What is one way that you can start all over?  Try erase the pain of high school and try to reclaim a whole new life where people don’t know you and your past?  College…  (You) Set Me On Fire by Mariko Tamaki is a story of trying to rediscover yourself while trying to escape your past.

Set in a college environment, Allison has just graduated high school and is looking forward to a new life at St. Joseph’s College.  Her high school career is one that she doesn’t want to remember…her first love (Anne) and the horrid rumors that arise due to a night of firsts.

Her tendency to set herself on fire has left her with scars, both inside and out.  Allison hopes that this new chapter in her life at St. Joseph’s will erase the pain that Anne has left in her heart, and find happiness.  Enter Shar.  A strong, beautiful, independent girl who decides to take Allison under her wing (who I pictured as Angelina Jolie’s character in Girl Interrupted – Lisa Rowe).

After a life of bliss, Shar’s personality starts to change…for the not so good…leaving Allison’s world spinning.  Angry, bullying, aggressive…Shar’s personality is in need of a major make over.  Not listening to her other friends, Allison learns just how much of a friend Shar really is, and learns the hard way what kind of person Shar really is.

(You) Set Me On Fire by Mariko Tamaki is a story of self-discovery.  I felt the character of Allison to be a pushover when it came to Shar.  Could it be because of Shar’s domineering personality?  Absolutely.  I was disappointed that Allison didn’t stand up for herself more instead of constantly agreeing to do whatever Shar wanted.  And I guess it’s because of this toxic relationship that I couldn’t tear myself away from the pages.

I knew from the get go that friendship was a terrible idea.  That nothing good would come out of it…but I was hoping that perhaps something would turn things around, and something good would come out of this.  And perhaps something good did.

Author, Mariko Tamaki, does a great job depicting life in college.  She also does a great job getting the reader into the head of the main character, Allison.  To be able to feel her emotions as she’s experiencing the different events.  Is Shar good?  Or is she bad?  Mariko Tamaki has a way of holding the reader’s attention so that they continue to watch this potential train wreck of a friendship and see exactly who Shar is, and what the cards hold for Allison.

Not only do we get to read about Allison and Shar, but we are also introduced to other characters in the book that are also looking to start anew.  For example, Jonathan.  Aside from his really bad skin, and his odd personality, I found him endearing.  I wanted to read more about him and his life at the college.  Not only does bullying occur in high school (as we all know), but it seems to have crossed over to the college life as well.  I found that to be a very interesting angle in the book.  When I think of bullying, the picture of teens in junior/high school come to mind.  I didn’t even stop to think that that sort of thing could carry over to college.  That was a true eye opener to me, and my heart was aching for him.  Sometimes, your past just seems to never disappear, no matter how much you want to start over.

I wouldn’t really say that (You) Set Me On Fire is a book for young readers.  There is much drinking, much swearing, and much sexual innuendo’s.  But there is also much that a reader will walk away with once they’ve read the book.

About The Author:

Photo by Davie Hawe


Mariko Tamaki is a Toronto writer, playwright, activist and performer. She works and performs with fat activists Pretty Porky and Pissed Off and the theatre troupe TOA, whose recent play, A vs. B, was staged at the 2004 Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Her well-received novel, Cover Me (McGilligan Books) was followed by a short fiction collection, True Lies: The Book of Bad Advice (Women’s Press). Mariko’s third book, FAKE ID, is due out in spring 2005.

Mariko Tamaki has performed her work across Canada and through the States, recently appearing at the Calgary Folkfest 2004, Vancouver Writer’s Festival 2003, Spatial III, and the Perpetual Motion/Girls Bite Back Tour, which circled though Ottawa, Montreal, Brooklyn and Chicago. She has appeared widely on radio and television including First Person Singular on CBC radio and Imprint on TVO. Mariko Tamaki is currently attending York University working a Masters degree in Women’s Studies.

Connect with Mariko:





Available for pre-order:



Be sure to check out the other blogs participating in this tour:

August 23:  

August 24:

August 25:

August 26:

August 27:

August 28

August 29:

August 30:

August 31:

September 1:

September 2:


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