*Blog Tour, Review, and Q&A* What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra

Thank you to Tale Out Loud for having A Court of Coffee and Books on this blog tour! I absolutely loved this book and I’m glad I am able to be part of this!

What the Woods Keep US CoverTITLE: What the Woods Keep

AUTHOR: Katya de Becerra

PUBLISH DATE: September 18th, 2018

PUBLISHER: Imprint/Macmillan

GENRE: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dark Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:

What the Woods Keep is the stunning debut of Katya de Becerra, who combines mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy in a twisty story that will keep you mesmerized right up to the final page.

On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home―on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She’s getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it’s all catching up with her: her mother’s mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father’s outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden’s own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden’s mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible―something that threatens reality itself.

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Pre-Order Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1250124255?tag=macmillan-20

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/what-the-woods-keep-katya-de-becerra/1128980012?ean=9781250124258#/

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/What-Woods-Keep-Katya-De-Becerra/9781250124258

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/product/9781250124258

Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250124258 

Author Information:

Katya de Beccera Author Photo (2)Katya de Becerra was born in Russia, studied in California, lived in Peru, and then stayed in Australia long enough to become a local. She was going to be an Egyptologist when she grew up, but instead she earned a PhD in Anthropology. What the Woods Keep is her first novel.

Author website: http://katyabecerra.blogspot.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15140719.Katya_de_Becerra

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatyaDeBecerra

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katyadebecerra/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katyadebecerra/


My Review:

“There are terrible forces hiding in this town, in these woods, that we don’t understand and that are dangerous.”

This wonderfully dark atmospheric novel will keep you fixated on the world and Hayden’s journey. What the Woods Keep is an eerie novel that will make you question the daily noises you hear and the things you see and quite possibly your own sanity. This book gives a new meaning to uncanny and the obscure. I was pleasantly hooked to this haunting tale.

What the Woods Keep bends mystery, paranormal, and fantasy. It does so in wonderful fashion, equally sufficing all genres in one book. There’s also the sense of an unknown horror. I’m one of those people that loves the horror genre, along with all the genres listed above. I don’t read a lot of horror, but when I do, I’m usually engrossed in the novel or bored because I know how everything will play out. What the Woods Keep was in no way boring or predictable, but rather an edgy new addition to the YA genre.

The book starts off with the reader meeting Hayden, the main protagonist, and learning surprising aspects about her life, the main one being that her mom died in a rather suspicious way. Hayden finds out on her eighteenth birthday that she has inherited her old house, a Manor in Promise, Colorado, based on her Mom’s will. However, her Mom leaves her a set of cryptic conditions:

“My first condition is that Hayden goes to the Manor and looks for the gifts I left her. They’ll call to her. She needs to listen with her blood.

“My second condition is that Hayden uses my gifts to destroy my darkest secret – my hidden treasure, my heaviest burden.

My third and final condition is that Hayden trusts no one where my treasure is concerned, especially the ravens.”

Cryptic yet intriguing messages, all that immediately pique Hayden’s (and the reader’s) interest. From there, Hayden and her best friend, Del, take a trip to Promise, Colorado, hoping to find answers not just about her Mom, but also Hayden’s upbringing and why her own Father wants her to never return to Promise (and also to see Shannon, an old — and very good-looking — childhood friend).

“It’s springtime, but Promise seems frozen in an eternal fall, its spirit crushed by rain and wind. It’s wet and miserable, and yet this place feels right to me. As if, despite it being inhospitable and damp and glum, it wants me here — and I belong.”

Hayden knows there is something unusual going on in her old hometown, but she can’t quite pinpoint it. People stare at her as if they’ve seen a ghost. There’s a research facility collecting blood NOT for a traditional blood drive. And then there’s a few members of the town that have been waiting for Hayden’s arrival for quite some time. And even though a lot of red flags go off in Hayden’s head, she is determined to uncover her Mom’s death and buried secrets. She never once thought the paranormal beings, Nibelungs, would be linked to her Mom, nor to her, especially when she believes scientific theories can explain everything.

“For the first time I truly wonder if all of it — my recurring dream about the shadowy army, Mom’s clues, and Dad’s crackpot science — point toward an impossible truth.”

The atmosphere in this book is astounding and unlike most fictional towns. As the reader, you know something is just off when the town is first introduced. The only issue: you don’t know what. But the mysterious townsfolk and luring woods will draw you in and keep you guessing. Just how does everything connect? And how does Hayden and her Mom fit into all of this?

I was overall happy with this book. The ending was a little fast, but the book itself is a tantalizing read. Katya de Becerra weaves beautiful and breathtaking writing to bring to life this haunting and eerie read. With strong characters, mystery, and an undeniable pull to the world, you won’t want to put this book down.

What the Woods Keep hits shelves next Tuesday, September 18! Pre-order now and check out the cool pre-order campaign!

Thank you to the publisher and Tale Out Loud for the advanced e-copy in exchange for an honest review! Any quotes used are from the advanced e-copy and may not be in the final publication. 

My rating: 4.5 stars out of five stars

Read on for my wonderful interview with the author of What the Woods Keep, Kayta de Becerra!


Q&A with Katya de Becerra

Thank you so much, Katya, for stopping by on A Court of Coffee and Books! We are so excited to have you!

The idea for your novel is unique and very intriguing. Did you have to do any research for your novel? If so, were there any interesting facts you stumbled upon?

Thank you! I’m a total mythology buff, so it’s no surprise at all that my debut novel is mythology focused. Aside from myths, I researched physics and psychology to make the science in What The Woods Keep as realistic as possible (though it is still science fiction, emphasis on fiction!). In terms of interesting facts… The Dyatlov Pass Incident is perhaps the strangest. It remains the kind of enduring mystery that several generations of people obsess over. I actually learned about Dyatlov Pass from my mom! I thought she was describing something fictional to me until I looked it up myself and learned all the facts. I just knew then, it had to be in my book in some way!

What character would you want to be stranded on an island with?

From my book or any other? If former, then with Del (the bestie of Hayden, who is the protagonist of What The Woods Keep), because of her optimism and ingenuity. If latter, then Katniss Everdeen, because if anyone can find a way to save herself from a deserted island (I’m assuming it’s deserted?), it’s Katniss – and maybe I can tag along.

What is a quirky or unique habit you have?

It’s more a rule, but let’s cheat and call it a habit. No caffeine after 12pm. Or I won’t sleep at night. At all.

Of course I have to ask: what Hogwarts house would each of your main characters fall in?

Hayden thinks she’s Ravenclaw but probably more of a Hufflepuff. Del is definitely a Gryffindor, through and through. And Shannon is Hufflepuff disguised as Slytherin.

If you could have coffee or tea with any author (even if they have to be brought back from the dead), who would it be and why?

Leigh Bargudo, because she’s awesome.

If you could have your book made into anything (Broadway musical, TV show, movie, ballet dance, soap opera, etc.), which would you choose and why?

Probably a movie, the moody psychological maybe-horror kind. But ballet would be super awesome too, now that you’ve mentioned it.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write what’s important to you. Don’t pay much attention to trends. Read a lot. Only accept critic/feedback from people you know and trust.


Don’t forget to enter the What the Woods Keep Giveaway!


Want to see the other blog stops on this tour? Check them out below!

What the Woods Keep Blog Tour Schedule

*Blog Tour + Giveaway:* Keeper of the Bees – Meg Kassel

KotB_1600 (1)Title: Keeper of the Bees
Author: Meg Kassel
Genre: YA Paranormal
Release Date: September 4th 2018
Publisher: Entangled Teen
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

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: https://entangledpublishing.com/keeper-of-the-bees.html

About the Author

MegKassel-HeadshotMeg 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.
Website: http://megkassel.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/megkassel

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seemegwrite/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/megkasselauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8353652.Meg_Kassel

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Meg-Kassel/e/B0756Q8N2L/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1524085261&sr=1-1

My Review

“They’re watching, wondering what game I’m playing. But this is no game.”

Keeper of the Bees is a wonderful follow-up to one of my favorite books of 2017, Black Bird of the Gallows. It follows the life of a beekeeper, Dresden, who locates to a new town and meets an interesting girl, a girl unlike any other. A girl with a surprising backstory.

Once again, Meg Kassel has written a beautiful book. Keeper of the Bees is just as good as its predecessor, if not better. Her writing is spectacular and enchanting; every description, every scene, had beautiful prose. The world Meg has created is incredible and will capture your attention from the very first line. Black Bird of the Gallows sets the stage for this world, and Keeper of the Bees follows up wonderfully. Told in a dual perspective of Dresden and Essie, you won’t want to put this book down. I devoured this beauty in a little over a day because it’s just that good. 

“I blink down at her, then realize I had forgotten how my face is a mess of changing features. For a few precious moments, I was just here with her. Not a monster. Not a killer.”

The aspect of the beekeepers is unique and quite interesting. They are immortal beings that have a horde of bees in their body that have to listen to these bees when they want to sting someone. And the stings are lethal, if not deadly. It makes people grow violent and sets them on a dangerous rampage. And when a person is killed from a bee sting, the beekeeper takes the form of their face. As in, the beekeeper’s face is constantly shifting to those of the people his/her bees have killed. And it’s a feature Dresden has come to hate, as he no longer remembers his own features.

Dresden is one of the most interesting characters I have read. He has many conflicts that a beekeeper usually never has to deal with. And his conflicts only increase when he comes across a girl his bees desperately want to sting. The only catch: he doesn’t want to sting her. Dresden is instantly drawn to her and her interesting quirks. For one, she has the ability to see Dresden, like actually see him, as most humans cannot see his shifting features. With her interesting backstory, Dresden can’t seem to stay away from her, especially when he learns a surprising fact about her family. And especially when he starts to feel things he never thought a beekeeper could feel.

This will destroy you. The Strawman’s voice threads through the chaos of my mind. I’ve been destroyed many times, I think in return.”

Essie is also another captivating character. She has what people believe to be a family cruse, as no treatment has been proven to work on what doctors call her “sickness.” Essie sees things that should not be there, which is why she at first believes Dresden is a figment of her imagination. But when he turns out not to be, she becomes enthralled in his world. Mental health is a constant topic in this book, but it’s talked about in a way that doesn’t scorn or degrade mental illness. Keeper of the Bees captures how people with mental illness are treated and it’s sad at how true it really is. But even so, I love how this book openly displays the truth with mental health.

The relationship between these two characters will easily become a favorite for many readers. They are both experiencing something new and fragile, and it’s something amazing to see unfold. Seeing their relationship reminded me of Beauty of the Beast, which is one of my all-time favorite love stories.

All in all, Meg Kassel has outdone herself with Keeper of the Bees. She has created a uniquely breathtaking world and so many lovable characters. I can’t wait to see what is in store next (hopefully more from this world!)

All quotes are from the advanced reader copy and may not be in the final book. Thank you Entangled Teen for the advanced reader copy and YA Book Tours for the amazing blog tour!

Enter the Keeper of the Bees Giveaway!

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~Blog Tour~ Seventh Born by Monica Sanz

SeventhBorn_1600Book: Seventh Born

Author: Monica Sanz

Genre: YA Paranormal/Mystery & Suspense

Release Date: September 4th 2018

Publisher: Entangled Teen

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

Abomination. Curse. Murderer. All names hurled at eighteen-year-old Seraphina Dovetail. As the seventh-born daughter to a witch, she’s the cause of her mother losing her powers and, in turn, her life.

Abandoned as a child, Sera dreams of becoming an inspector and finding her family. To do that, she must be referred into the Advanced Studies Program at the Aetherium’s Witchling Academy. Her birth order, quick temper, and tendency to set things on fire, however, have left her an outcast with failing marks…and just what Professor Nikolai Barrington is looking for.

The tall, brooding, yet exceedingly handsome young professor makes her a proposition: become his assistant and he’ll give her the referral she needs. Sera is quickly thrust into a world where witches are being kidnapped, bodies are raised from the dead, and someone is burning seventhborns alive. As Sera and Barrington grow ever closer, she’ll discover that some secrets are best left buried…and fire isn’t the only thing that makes a witch burn.

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Purchase links can be found HERE!

About the Author

monica_sanzMonica Sanz has been writing from the moment she could string together a sentence. Her stories have come a long way from mysterious portals opening in the school cafeteria, transporting classmates to distant worlds. A classic by the name Wuthering Heights is responsible for that. She’s been lost to dark romances and brooding fictional men ever sense. Now she writes about grumpy professors, cursed ringmaster, tortured soul collectors, and the girls they fall in love with. Monica’s books have received many accolades on the social writing website Wattpad. She’s accumulated over six million reads, eighty thousand votes, and fifteen thousand comments since posting her books on the website. She is also a member of the Wattpad4, a group of writers who host weekly Twitter chats on the subjects of writing and publishing.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook


My Review

*I received an uncorrected copy of Seventh Born from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All quotes in this review are based on the uncorrected proof and may not be in the final book.*

Seventh Born is a book I initially wanted to read based on the cover (isn’t that cover GORGEOUS?!). But then I read the summary and I knew this was a book I was going to like. Turns out, Seventh Born is a book I ended up loving.

Her whole life, Sera has been told she is nothing but an abomination and that her life will amount to nothing. But she’s determined to live the life she wants and to not be everything she has always been told. Sera wants to be an Inspector, a witch of high ranking, a rank that very few seventh-borns ever reach. And though people at school degrade her and aim to emotionally torture her, she tries to not let that affect her (though there are moments where her fiery anger gets the best of her).

“Her hand tightened on the doorknob, a fierce ache in her heart. She yearned to locate her family, but now there were monsters to find. There would always be monsters to find.”

I really enjoyed the complexity of Sera as the main character. She has a troubled past that still haunts her. She has a family she wants to find. And she has a life she wants to live, even though all odds are against her. She overall is a very complex character, who has magic that’s quite fiery and sometimes unstable. Seeing her navigate through this new chapter in her life, even when her past comes to light, she’s still a strong and brave character, one I feel I would befriend almost instantly.

One of the main reasons Seventh Born hooked me from the beginning was the beautiful writing. Monica Sanz did a wonderful job combining the many aspects needed to bring this book to life: mystery, suspense, magic, tension, and more. Though there was a lack of world building (which I hope to see more of in the second book), it was made up for in suspense and tension. The plot does come together nicely, but, like all great plots in the first book, it doesn’t tie together in a nice bow. Questions remain unanswered that will leave you guessing until book two comes out. If anything, the plot only thickens and leaves a ton open for the series.

“I’ll admit, I’m as confounded by your abilities as you are, but you’re in luck that I’m quite fond of mysteries and that I’m a rather magnificent magician.”

But I have to admit, I instantly fell in love with Professor Barrington. Professor Barrington is the type of character people would deem mysterious and intriguing. He has a life he hides from most and emotions he would prefer to keep hidden. So it was a complete surprise to Sera when he offered her a referral for her program in exchange for her assistance in solving a string of murders. Over the course of the book, Sera sees multiple sides of him, which makes him all the more intriguing. Barrington is an overall great character that adds to the suspense and tension and, of course, the magic. He’s one of those book boyfriends that would keep you entranced. And he sure does in Seventh Born. I can’t wait to see what Barrington brings to book two!

I finished this book in two days, and I can’t wait to read the sequel. I’m ready for more Barrington, suspense, and romantic tension. I can’t get enough of that wonderfully moody professor! Seventh Born is in stores now, so get your copy today!

Enter the Seventh Born Giveaway Here!

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Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

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A hauntingly beautiful read about family, love, redemption, and what it means to be human. 


Goodreads Synopsis:

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.


Black Bird of the Gallows deserved the award of Goodreads Best Book of the Month (I was very happy to see this book win!), and I hope my review helps to explain why Meg Kassel’s debut deserved this award.

I should first start off by saying that I have been obsessed with this book since June, and I hadn’t even read the book at that time. I came across this book at ALA, and I knew I wanted to read Meg Kassel’s work just based on the cover. But when I found out the story inside that beautiful cover, I became immediately taken and intrigued. So then, September comes and I leave for my first road trip that month. I get home from my road trip to find a package on my counter from Entangled Teen, and inside was a copy of Black Bird of the Gallows. I was excited and did not expect this to happen, so thank you Entangled Teen for sending me a copy of this beautiful book to review. I was beyond thrilled (my nephews can testify for me that I did a little happy dance). The sad part was that I was only home for one more day before I had a second road trip, and since I was the one driving, there was no way I was going to be able to squeeze in some precious reading time. So, alas, I had to wait to read this book and trust me, I was very impatient the whole trip. I have no doubt that I annoyed my passengers. When I finally got home from that long and exhausting road trip, I immediately grabbed the book and sat down on the couch, not even bothering to unpack and not bothering to get some much needed  sleep. I was excited to dive into the world of Black Bird of the  Gallows, and the story did not disappoint.

This book has a beautifully woven plot and complex characters that pull you in from the first line. If the cover does not grab your attention, the synopsis surely will. And let me tell you, Meg Kassel does not disappoint. This haunting tale of curses and death is unique and captivating; the characters are easily likable and relatable. Angie is fighting demons from her past while facing very real demons in her present; her journey is a remarkable one and a journey that not many people would be able to finish.

There were many things I thoroughly enjoyed about Black Bird of the Gallows: 

  • The complexity of the characters: None of the characters are the same. Some are alike, but each character has their own demons, some very real. Angie fights demons from her past and has to learn to live and let go. Reece has demons that follow him every day and never go away; the life of a Harbinger is not a joyous one.
  • The Harbingers of Death and Beekeepers: I have never read anything like this tale and that’s definitely a good thing. This book brought the tale of harbingers of death and beekeepers to life and it was uniquely beautiful. All books are unique but I found this one to be slightly more unique than others, and that may be because I have yet to come across a book about harbingers, so this book is extra special to me.
  • The action: One of the great things about this book is that the action is not reduced to one page or one chapter, but instead is one/third of the book. I’ve read plenty of books where the action scene or ending is rushed, and it unfortunately is a letdown. Not with Black Bird of the Gallows. Meg Kassel does a wonderful job of creating non-stop suspense and ensuring page upon page is filled with action. The action scenes are not the type of action one would see in, let’s say, an Indiana Jones movie; these action scenes bring together the complexity of the characters and what it means to truly want to protect the people you love.
  • The fantasy/paranormal aspect: I loved the history of the harbingers of death and the beekeepers. Meg Kassel does a fantastic job of entwining history and fantasy together. I am a huge fan of fantasy novels and Black Bird of the Gallows is right up my alley.
  • The romance: It’s no surprise to me that I absolutely loved the romance between Angie and Reece. Two complex characters have a complicated and potentially forbidden romance. These two characters are perfect for each other, and Meg Kassel makes sure there is no instant love story; she spends more time focusing on the plot and what it means for the arrival of Reece and his crows. Meg Kassel definitely nailed the romance part of her debut!

Overall, this book is a must-read and one you definitely do not want to miss. Black Bird of the Gallows has easily made its way onto my 2017 Favorite Reads shelf, and it is exactly where the book belongs. Meg Kassel will be one of the authors I will read any work from, so I am looking forward to her next work (possibly a sequel to Black Bird of the Gallows? *wink, wink*)!

My rating: 5/5 stars

Nikole