Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review of Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel

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Title:
Keeper of the Bees
Author: Meg Kassel
Genre: YA Paranormal
Release Date: September 4th 2018
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Summary:

Beauty and the beast like you’ve never imagined!” —New York Times bestselling author Pintip Dunn

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.

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Purchase Links: Entangled Teen

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My Rants and Raves Keeper of the Bees

**please note that this review may contain spoilers**

There’s something dark and eerie about Meg Kassal’s storytelling, and when it comes to her atmospheric companion novel Keeper of the Bees, Kassal does not disappoint in giving her readers the creeps and the chills. Paralleling the the same fantasy world of her first novel Black Birds of the Gallows, Keeper of the Bees focuses on a beekeeper, Dresden, along with other paranormal beings like the harbingers.

At the very beginning of the novel, Dresden’s cursed life is shifted and it is all because of Essie, a human who chews peppercorns to stop hallucinations and delusions. But the sudden burst of pepper, does not halt this teenager from seeing Dresden for what he really is: a creature that wears the many faces of his victims that have gone mad and died due to his venomous stings.

I really enjoyed the banter and conversations that are ping-ponged back and forth between these two unusual characters, Essie and Dresden. While one thinks he is a monster, a beastly being, the other finds him “pretty” but doubts herself because she suffers from a family curse which is treated like a mental illness. There is an instant bond between these two characters. It starts with fascination, turns into friendship, and develops into romance. 

Keeper of the Bees is also a very fascinating read because Kassel creates her own legends and fantastical foundation. This book reflects some similar characteristics of traditional young adult paranormal books, but Kassal also gives a unique take on her own monsters and myths. I honestly love that her beastly characters heighten my sense of wonder but they are also so freaking creepy.  

If you are fond of books with a bit of mystery, myth, romance, paranormal elements, and a hint of horror, Keeper of the Bees is the right book to add to your TBR. The story is well-paced and I liked that the characters are challenged to face their own personal demons and actual monsters of the world.

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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.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Review of To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin

Title: To Be Honest
Author: Maggie Ann Martin
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: August 21st 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Synopsis:
Savannah is dreading being home alone with her overbearing mother after her sister goes off to college. But if she can just get through senior year, she’ll be able to escape to college, too. What she doesn’t count on is that her mother’s obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss show, and now Savvy’s mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats.

Between her mom’s diet-helicoptering, missing her sister, and worrying about her collegiate future, Savvy has enough to worry about. And then she meets George, the cute new kid at school who has insecurities of his own. As Savvy and George grow closer, they help each other discover how to live in the moment and enjoy the here and now before it disappears.

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My Rants and Raves of To Be Honest

To Be Honest is such a feel good read that I could not put down. I wish I could tell my teenage self: “in 2018 there will be books you can relate to. They are fat positive and realistic and swoony as hell.”

In To Be Honest, I adored the main character Savannah. She is fat and healthy and proud of all her successes. Yes, she is apprehensive about big life changes and possibly dating, but this young adult rocks at math, journalism, and being an amazing friend, sister, and daughter. I loved that Savannah is bold and funny; I love that she is determined and 95% of the time says what is on her mind. 

One of my favorite parts of this novel is that the book focuses on Savannah’s internal thoughts and doesn’t sugarcoat her flaws and struggles. Instead, we are there for every verbal fight with her diet-obsessed mom, every tear-stained mascara mark, every sloppy kiss from a handsome poodle, and every laugh between half pepperoni half pineapple pizza-loving friends. I adored this book so much; every page was like a comforting hug of support and love.

If you are fan of realistic high school stories, tulle skirts, and watching young love struggle to ignite, definitely give To Be Honest a read. I loved the story and the characters and of course the white poodle named Fiyero.

4 star rating

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Author Bio:

Maggie Ann Martin hails from Iowa City, Iowa but moonlights as a New Yorker. She has a shiny new BA in English and Journalism from the University of Iowa, the most welcoming literary community in the world. When she is not writing, you can find her binge watching TV shows or passionately fangirling over fictional characters on the Internet. The Big F is her debut novel.

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If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Mood Board of The Wicked King by Holly Black

26032887Title: The Wicked King
Author: Holly Black
Publisher:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: January 8, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

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Synopsis:

The enchanting and bloodthirsty sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel The Cruel Prince.

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.


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Remember how floored I was after reading The Cruel Prince. Well, I’m not going to hold anything back, but you guys, The Wicked King is just as enticing and brutal as the first book. Jude is still badass and fighting tooth and nail to survive in the Faerie folk world; Cardan is slouched on the throne in a state of boredom and drunken bliss; and every character that we encounter throughout the story is just as biting and cutthroat as the other.

And instead of going into a full review of The Wicking King (which I will post closer to the release date), where I talk about how my heart cannot take much more of these twists, turns, and acts of betrayal inked by Holly Black’s storytelling, I decided to dabble in creating an mood board, which I hope gets you more excited for the upcoming sequel. Because honestly, right now, I cannot fathom to express my thoughts on the angst and treachery ingrained in this book into words. I just CANNOT! *sobs uncontrollably* . . . I need The Queen of Nothing now. 

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My Rating of The Wicked King:star rating

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Note:   I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in exchange for a review. I received an early copy of this book from a friend, and I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine. Please note that not all pictures/photos used in the mood board are mine, but were found on stock photo sites and Pinterest. 

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: of The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One by Amanda Lovelace

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Title:
 The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Publisher:
Andrews McMeel Publishing

Release Date: March 6, 2018
Genres: Poetry, Feminism

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Synopsis:

2016 Goodreads Choice Award-winning poet Amanda Lovelace returns in the witch doesn’t burn in this one — the bold second book in her “women are some kind of magic” series. 

The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.


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You guys, Amanda Lovelace has done it again. Amanda’s poems in The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One are an eye-opening message to a past that has shaped women and feminism. The message picks up on women’s continuing struggle to break out of the box because we are told that we are too fragile and emotional and weak for the outside world.

As a collection of poems, The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One is empowering and bold and I could feel my soul ignite with the courage and indestructibility that Lovelace ingrains through each stanza and each word. I love that these poems are emotional and raw. They are the words of a survivor and a fighter.

Lovelace’s poems do not act like a wake up call for the reality of what woman have faced and continue to face; instead it is a siren song: “You are fierce, you are beautiful, you are worth it, you are flames…Burn! Leave a path of ashes for the past to acknowledge where you came from, but also a path towards a future of change. Overall, I loved this collection of poems, because each poem is a reflection of loss, grief, acceptance, self-love, strength, and/or healing. I read the book in one sitting, and I can see many rereads of it in the future. 

star rating

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Note:   I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds, and I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine. 

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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Title:
 Uprooted
Author: Naomi Novik
Publisher:
Del Rey
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Genres: Young Adult/Adult, Fantasy, Romance

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Synopsis:

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.


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Uprooted reads like a dark fairy-tale that ignites the most luminous story of courage, female empowerment, whimsical magic, and a hint of romance. I read this book back in November 2015 and this year I decided to do a re-read, because honestly I cannot get this story or the characters out of my head. And once again, I savored Uprooted to the very end.

Every chapter of Uprooted is captivating and beautifully written. The main character, Agnieszka, is a fierce heroine that is very in tune with her natural ability to be bold and selfless. I loved that Agnieszka is portrayed as being very intuitive to her magical gifts, but she never tries to outshine those around her. She observes, learns, and reacts with her instincts. Although her teacher, the Dragon, often gets irritated with her  because she doesn’t stick to the rule book of magic, you can definitely see that he respects and cares for her. 

Along with Uprooted being an enchanting, fairy-tale-esque  story, the book also contains a slow-burn romance that will make your insides tingle. I loved reading the pages where Agnieszka and the Dragon argue and banter. The chemistry between these two characters is deeply rooted with passion, care, and respect for each other. 

I also want to rave about the portrayal of female empowerment in Uprooted. While men in the novel try to play by traditional (patriarchal) standards and set rules, the female characters listen to their intuition and solve problems by their innate reactions. The female characters do not try to cut each other down. Instead they work together, often becoming each other’s saviors instead of the men being the “knights in shining armor.” 

Overall, once again, I loved every second of Uprooted. The magic is dark but the characters are incredibly stunning. I really enjoyed the whimsical twists and gruesome turns. But most of all, I love that the quiet, simple girl doesn’t get lost in the pages or overshadowed by potential heroes;  instead she uses her fears, instincts, and vulnerabilities as strengths to conquer evil. 

star rating

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Note:   I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds, and I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine. 

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of First & Then by Emma Mills

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Title:
 First & Then
Author: Emma Mills
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary 

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Synopsis:

Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.


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This is a “second chance” read for me. Back in late 2015, I read First & Then and rated it at a 2/5 stars. At that time, I stated in my short Goodreads review that I could not connect with the story or the characters. Now fast forward to 2018! I re-read First & Then and OHHHHMYYYGOD . . . I don’t even know what was wrong with my past self. So in regards to my re-read, I adored First & Then, and I am so happy I gave the book a second chance. 

It’s quite possible that I could not relate to First & Then back in 2015, because I am not a football fan. But last year, I binged watched Friday Night Lights and fell in love with the show, the drama, and maybe (just maybe) I started liking football. Add in the swoons, a dash of Prejudice and Prejudice appreciation, and an adorable cousin friendship, and voilà First & Then won me over. 

Overall, First & Then is a quick read and it comes with two of my favorite reading criterion: angst and warm fuzzies. Devon, the main character, and Ezra, her “nemesis,” have great chemistry throughout the book and the storytelling definitely won me over. I love that Emma Mills portrays her characters with flaws and vulnerabilities, making the story more vibrant and realistic. I am so glad I gave this book a second chance and I highly recommend that if you are fan of romantic contemporary books, First & Then is for you. 

4 star rating

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Note:   I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds, and I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine. 

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Review of Legendary by Stephanie Garber

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Title:
 Legendary
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher:
Flatiron Books
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

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Synopsis:

Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.


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Hello, again! Yes, I am back to gush and rave about the world of Caraval (RAVING REVIEW HERE), but more importantly its sequel: Legendary. As some of you already know, I am a huge Caraval fanatic. I’ve read the book three times, and each time it gets better and better. So when Legendary was announced, I knew I had to get my hands on it, and of course buy all the copies: US edition, special editions, Goldsboro’s edition, Waterstone’s edition, and all the UK editions. I’m a mess, you guys! I know it’s the same book with the same exact words with the same story, but I need all the editions. And finally, after much . . . and I mean so much contemplation, and trying to accept that my raving review would have to be sufficient enough to explain how much I LOVED Legendary, here are a few of my raving thoughts on the book.

Once again Stephanie Garber, creates a world filled with magic, romance, mystery, enchantment, and the most beautiful darkness. I adore Stephanie’s richly descriptive writing style. Each of her sentences are like shimmering swirls of an enchanting spell. Stephanie’s storytelling is very atmospheric, metaphoric ,and spellbinding; it has that hint of pulling at the heart and the aching emotion that true magic encompasses the world of Caraval.

Legendary is Tella’s story (Scarlett’s sister). I will admit, at first, I was not 100% on board for Tella’s story, because I wanted more Scarlett, but WHOA! I am so glad I gave Tella and her story a chance. Tella acts so fierce and determined on the outside. But behind her fire, Tella bottles up her loneliness, the motivation to protect her sister, and the emotional effects of being abandoned by her mother at such a young age. Even though everyone seems to underestimate Tella, she is definitely a fighter. What I like about Tella is that she doesn’t hold back any attitude or motivation to do what she believes is right. There is a darker aura that surrounds Tella compared to Scarlett, but I enjoyed watching Tella mature throughout the novel.

I also found Legendary to be much more darker than Caraval, and the darker atmosphere definitely adds a lot of intrigue and mystery to the novel. Death and loneliness tend be constant entities that litter Tella’s story, and you just cannot look away from the action that ensues. I highly recommend that you read Legendary NOW! Not only will you discover the true identity of Legend, but you will also be swept up into a new game of Caraval with deadly kisses, the power of the fates, and sacrifice. 

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Note: Thank you to Flatiron Books for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.