Friday, October 26, 2018

Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel {review}

by Meg Kassel
♦publisher: Entangled Teen
♦release date: Septemeber 4th, 2018
♦hardcover, 304 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: companion to Black Bird of the Gallows
♦source: from publisher for review consideration
KEEPER OF THE BEES is a tale of two teens who are both beautiful and beastly, and whose pasts are entangled in surprising and heartbreaking ways.

Dresden is cursed. His chest houses a hive of bees that he can’t stop from stinging people with psychosis-inducing venom. His face is a shifting montage of all the people who have died because of those stings. And he has been this way for centuries—since he was eighteen and magic flowed through his homeland, corrupting its people.

He follows harbingers of death, so at least his curse only affects those about to die anyway. But when he arrives in a Midwest town marked for death, he encounters Essie, a seventeen-year-old girl who suffers from debilitating delusions and hallucinations. His bees want to sting her on sight. But Essie doesn’t see a monster when she looks at Dresden.

Essie is fascinated and delighted by his changing features. Risking his own life, he holds back his bees and spares her. What starts out as a simple act of mercy ends up unraveling Dresden’s solitary life and Essie’s tormented one. Their impossible romance might even be powerful enough to unravel a centuries-old curse.

{Becky's Thoughts}

I could not have been more enthralled by this book!
This second story by author Meg Kassel plunges us back in to the world she first introduced in Black Bird of the Gallows. It's a spin off that takes us deeper into the lives of the ominous beekeepers and harbinger crows that follow disaster from town to town, feeding off human fear and death. And while I really enjoyed Black Bird of the Gallows, I loved Keeper of the Bees so much. A rich Beauty and the Beast type story, where the true spin is that both of our main characters have beauty and beastliness in them. Both of them will face down their curses and find each other waiting at the end of the battle.

Who knew I could ever be enchanted by a character who shoots bees from his mouth?? 😄Dresden is a beekeeper, the bees inside him sting a person and turn them dark and violent. His face morphs between the faces of all his victims, but Dresden remembers who he once was, and there is kindness and compassion and humanity in him that makes him hate what he is. It's that compassion that lets him see into the gentle soul of a girl who struggles with the delusions and hallucinations. Essie is shunned in her town because of her family's "curse"--- a mental illness that seems to have been passed down through generations. She doesn't know what to make of Dresden with his changing faces and bees---it intrigues her more than anything else. Both of them seem fascinated that the other can see past what others see and assume of them, so they find themselves drawn together. There was such a sweetness to this love story.  I love how the mental illness was handled--Essie knows how sick she is, but aside from sometimes being scared by her hallucinations, she doesn't fear it or feel shame or spite. It is what is it is and she owns it with grace.  

There is one truly terrifying new addition to the supernatural world in this story. The Strawman sent shivers down my spine at his every appearance, but even this chill-inducing creature is written with such great complexity. And there is one other that absolutely had my skin crawling---but you'll have to read to find out more!

There is so much heart to this story. Both Essie and Dresden have such challenges to face on their own, but they strengthen each other so much in coming together. And I have to say, Meg Kassel knows how to write a crazy twist ending that will leave her readers breathless. Pick this one up asap---it's perfect for Halloween (or anytime!). 

• About the Author •

Meg Kassel is an author of fantasy and speculative books for young adults. A graduate of Parson's School of Design, she’s been creating stories, whether with visuals or words, since childhood. Meg is a New Jersey native who lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her husband and daughter. As a fan of ’80s cartoons, Netflix series, and ancient mythology, she has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart® winner in YA and a double 2018 RITA® finalist for her debut novel, Black Bird of the Gallows.

Author Links:   Website  •  Twitter   •   Instagram  •   

Find the book:   Amazon • BookDepository • Indiebound

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. A spin-off of the meme called "Can't Wait Wednesday" is now hosted at Wishful Endings. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

by Claire Eliza Bartlett

hitting shelves April 2nd, 2019  
from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Seventeen-year-old Revna is a factory worker, manufacturing war machines for the Union of the North. When she's caught using illegal magic, she fears being branded a traitor and imprisoned. Meanwhile, on the front lines, Linné defied her father, a Union general, and disguised herself as a boy to join the army. They're both offered a reprieve from punishment if they use their magic in a special women's military flight unit and undertake terrifying, deadly missions under cover of darkness. Revna and Linné can hardly stand to be in the same cockpit, but if they can't fly together, and if they can't find a way to fly well, the enemy's superior firepower will destroy them--if they don't destroy each other first.

My thoughts:  I could be way off base with this, but I am totally picturing an alternate universe 1940s Rose the Riveter type character with magical abilities. And I am 100% HERE FOR IT!!!  Then I see that they are plunged into a Night Witches type flight unit, and I am completely dead waiting for this one to come out!! Deadly missions, forbidden magic, all sounds amazing!!

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. A spin-off of the meme called "Can't Wait Wednesday" is now hosted at Wishful Endings. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

by Nadine Brandes

hitting shelves May 7th, 2019  
from Thomas Nelson
The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

My thoughts:  So, this quickly became on of my most anticipated books of  2019 the second I heard about it!!  I loved this author's magical twist on the historical legacy of Guy Fawkes so  I can't wait to see this fantastic spin on the Romanovs and the lost princess Anastasia. It's such a fascinating story to begin with---add in a little magic and spells and a dangerous chase? I am SOOO ready for this adventure!

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Uncharted by Erin Cashman {review}

by Erin Cashman
♦publisher: Page Street Kids
♦release date: September 4th, 2018
♦hardcover, 416 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: received from publisher for review consideration
Seventeen-year-old Annabeth prefers the fantasy of her books and paintings to reality—because in reality, her mom is dead, and it was all her fault. When she accompanies her father to the funeral of some family friends who drowned, she’s surprised to find her grief reflected in the face of Griffin Bradford, the son of the couple who died. Griffin is nothing like the carefree boy she once knew. Now he’s irritable, removed, and he’s under police investigation for his parents’ deaths.

One night following the memorial service, Annabeth’s dad goes missing in the woods, and she suspects Griffin knows more about the disappearance than he’s letting on. He refuses to answer her questions, particularly those related to the mysterious “expedition” his parents took to Ireland, where they went missing for seven months.

Annabeth fears her father isn’t lost, but rather a victim of something sinister. She launches her own investigation, tracing clues that whisper of myth and legend and death, until she stumbles upon a secret. One that some would die to protect, others would kill to expose—and which twists Annabeth’s fantasy and reality together in deadly new ways.

{Becky's Thoughts}

There was so much that drew me to Uncharted, even beyond cracking open this gorgeous cover. If you are a lover of contemporary fantasy, Irish legends, stories of far-off travel, family secrets, or mysterious secret societies, Uncharted is not one to be missed.

Annabeth is in a dark place in life, hiding away from past guilt, having lost her mother in an accident she blames herself for. Even so, when she knows her dad needs her support after the death of two close family friends, she's sure to be there for him, no matter how far she wants to run. She finds herself back among the Magellans, a group of her parent's friends who once traveled the globe together, chasing after any worldly mysteries they could find. And bring her back to butt heads with an old childhood friend/rival, Griffin.

Which brings us to the love story,... lately I just seem to be picking up all books that know just what kind of love story I enjoy! Yay for romance with a ton of history behind it! I love it when my characters already have a long shared history that really ties them together. In Annabeth and Griffin's case, they start at still having that little bit of childhood angstiness (is that a word? LOL) between them, she's a little short tempered with the boy who once put spiders in her bed, etc. But as the tragedies and mysteries and secrets pile up around them, they fall into each other for support and suddenly they find themselves needing each other for even more.

This story really had some great surprises, lots of twist and turns, unexpected revelations.  I loved the mix of science and mystery. Admittedly there was a little bit of lull for me somewhere in the middle, where the action and propulsion of the plot seems at a bit of a standstill, but it kick-started again after not too long as secrets start to spill out and Annabeth really starts to realize what she's in the midst of.

I absolutely can't wait for this story to continue--I must know more, more, more,...about these characters and the mystery and legend that unraveled (trying so hard not to give anything away here!). This was dark and dangerous, and a wildly entertaining story!

{Photo Credit: Peter Su}

Erin Cashman is an award-winning writer of Young Adult fantasy. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, three children, and their very energetic dog. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading (of course!), walking her dog, hiking, and watching TV with her family (all diehard fans of Harry PotterLord of the RingsStar Wars, and Star Trek), and running the First Five Pages Workshop. She also loves to bake and is known for making her family and friends ugly but yummy birthday cakes.

Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. A spin-off of the meme called "Can't Wait Wednesday" is now hosted at Wishful Endings. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

by Sarah Beth Durst

hitting shelves March 19th, 2019  
from Harper Voyager
Life is precious and precarious on the islands of Belene. Besieged by a capricious ocean full of malicious spirits, the people of the islands seek joy where they can. Mayara, one of the island’s fearless oyster divers, has found happiness in love. But on the day of her wedding to the artist Kelo, a spirit-driven storm hits the island with deadly force.

To save her loved ones, Mayara reveals a dangerous secret: she has the power to control the spirits. When the storm ends, she is taken into custody by the queen’s soldiers and imprisoned with other women like her.

They vary in age and social status, but to many they are heroes who will aide the country or witches that will sacrifice themselves trying. No matter who they are, the women are sent to a terrifying place—an island filled with bloodthirsty nature spirits, and left without food, water, shelter, or any tools except their own instincts and magic. Whoever survives the Island of Testing will be declared heirs to the queen. But no matter if she wins or loses, Mayara knows that the life she dreamed of is gone.

My thoughts:  So excited about this!! The Queens of Renthia books were so exciting and terrifying and breathtaking.  In the third book we got a tiny glimpse at the Island of Belene and it made me wildly curious to know more about it. And now here it is!! A completely stand-alone companion that focuses on this chaotic place.  I can't wait to revisit this world!♥

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black {review}

Girl at the Grave
by Teri Bailey Black
♦publisher: Tor Teen
♦release date: August 7th, 2018
♦hardcover, 336 pages
♦intended audience: Young adults
♦source: from publisher for review consideration
Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother's legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.

Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.

{Becky's Thoughts}

I found myself in a complicated relationship with this book.  I've not sure I've ever disliked so many of the characters, including the protagonist, disliked the way the mystery unfolded with so many theories being thrown out there and then disproved, felt kind of 'meh' about the romance,...and yet still found myself completely absorbed and having to find out just how it would end!

This was not at all the creepy, ghostly tale I was expecting.  It was 100% gloomy Victorian murder mystery---which didn't bother me at all! Valentine is a bit of an outcast in her small town, shut out by her peers because of her family's dark history. That history, plagued by mysterious fires and a mother accused a murder, Valentine seems to have long since resigned to her status. She has only her father who is often traveling and Sam, her best friend from another poor family with a bad reputation. When the local priest reveals that he knows her mother was innocent and then winds up dead, Valentine finds herself in the middle of a dangerous murder mystery and her world unravels.

When Rowan, one of her schoolmates from one of the wealthiest families in town AND the son of the man her mother was accused of murdering, suddenly takes an interest in her, she starts to feel like she belongs for the first time. It's all very Pretty in Pink for the 1800s (I may be aging myself with the reference, but it definitely fits). For those of you with an aversion to the love triangle, you're going to have a field day with this. Valentine becomes the ultimate waffler when it comes to romance, and even for someone like me who really doesn't hate triangles, it can get frustrating. Her reasoning just wasn't sound- not in romance, and not in her actions regarding clearing her mother's name.

Still, it was an interesting and twisty plot---some of it predictable, others not so much (the two major plot twist actually had me gasping in surpise!). But it held my attention all the way through, whether it was with awe or aggravation or a good swoony Rowan moment, I ended up enjoying watching this gothic mystery unfold.


Teri Bailey Black grew up near the beach in southern California in a large, quirky family with no television or junk food, but an abundance of books and art supplies. She’s happiest when she’s creating things, whether it’s with words, fabric, or digging in the garden. She makes an amazing chocolate cherry cake—frequently. She and her husband have four children and live in Orange County, California.

Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly meme created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. A spin-off of the meme called "Can't Wait Wednesday" is now hosted at Wishful Endings. It lets us all gush about what soon-to-be released books we are jumping-up-and-down excited for.

by Rachel Burge

hitting shelves January 10th, 2019  
from Hot Key Books
Part ghost story, part Nordic thriller - this is a twisty, tense and spooky YA debut, perfect for fans of CORALINE and Michelle Paver.

Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma's cabin and became blind in one eye.

Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor - only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose.

Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . .

Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, THE TWISTED TREE is a ghost story that twists and turns - and never takes you quite where you'd expect.

My thoughts:  So this book looked the perfect one to start off October with, right?? I have to admit, though, spooky creepy fairytale type stories appeal to me year-round, not just at Halloween time. :)  Love that sound of Martha's strange power and can't wait to find out more about the peculiar boy and these terrifying creatures!

What book are you eagerly anticipating this week?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: My Meet-The-Author Wishlist!

The ultimate list-makers meme! Originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, 
and now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

In my long life as a book blogger, I've been super lucky to have met some of my very favorite authors already, wonderful amazing inspiring people including Sharon Cameron, Cat Winters, Susan Dennard, Malinda Lo, Marissa Meyer, William Ritter, Martha Brockenbrough, Kerri Maniscalco, Kendare Blake, April Tucholke, Victoria Schwab, HollyBlack, David Levithan, and gaahhhhhhh the ever amazing Judy Blume (!!!! The only one I've ever actually cried when I met her), and ahhh so so many more.  I've been incredibly lucky. But there are so many more I'm dying to meet, so here's my author-meeting bucket list!😍

Sarah Beth Durst: Sarah is amazing and we've been in touch so many times over the years. She's been so generous in reaching out to me and I'm always ready to help promote her fantastic work.  Finally getting to meet in person would be awesome!

Mary Weber: I've been a huge fan of Mary's since her debut , Storm Siren, and she just seems like she'd be the coolest person ever to sit and chat with over tea and baked goods LOL. 

Shea Earnshaw: I was this close to meeting Shea last year at a small NorCal trade show, but sadly her signing was cancelled due to a fogged-in flight and I was so bummed. And this was before I fell in love with her enchanting debut, The Wicked Deep. 

J.K. Rowling: Well, obviously. ;P

Emily Bain Murphy: Her debut, The Disappearances, blew me away! I'd want to meet her to have my books signed (I have a few copies of it lol) and to pick her brain about what she has in store for us next!

Erin Cashman: This sweet lady was a blast to be in contact with when we were setting up her book promos and interview for Uncharted. Another debut that I absolutely loved this year!

Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton (aka The Lady Janies!): As hilarious as their books are, I can only imagine what it must be like to get them in a room together and hear them chat about books!!

Bethany Griffin: To find out where she has gone to and convince her that I need more of her amazing spine tingling words!! 

Emily X.R. Pan: To let her know her Astonishing Color of After was the first book in a long time to make me ugly-cry at it's sheer beauty in storytelling.

Neil Gaiman:  Again, obviously. ♥

Well, that's I guess I'll stop there. By force haha. I could go on for a while. 

So who's on your author wishlist? Please link me up to your TTT! :D