*ARC Review* Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

Title: Kingsbane (Empirium #2)Kingsbane

Author: Claire Legrand

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: May 21, 2019

Page Count: 608 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller Furyborn, two queens, separated by a thousand years, connected by secrets and lies, must continue their fight amid deadly plots and unthinkable betrayals that will test their strength—and their hearts.

Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien—but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.

Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity’s long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption—fear of becoming another Rielle—keeps Eliana’s power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted—by embracing her mother’s power, or rejecting it forever.

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Beware! If you have not read Furyborn, please do not read this review, as it contains spoilers. If you would like to read my review of Furyborn, click here.Thank you to the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Holy cow, what a ride! I thought Furborn was amazing, but Kingsbane was outstanding and emotional and beautiful. Kingsbane left me emotionally drained for days; even now just reflecting on how much happened in that book brings back all the emotions.

Sometimes sequels don’t live up to expectations or the hype of the first book. Kingsbane outshines Furyborn and brings to the table a continuation of the epic fantasy world Claire has created. The writing, the characters, the world…everything is so well done and breathtaking. Kingsbane is easily one of the best sequels I have read in the YA fantasy genre.

Claire Legrand has proven to be a phenomenal fantasy writer. She weaves words together to create a captivating and poetic world that any reader can get lost in. Two worlds fitted across time make for a magical story and epic world building, which Claire succeeds at creating. The world in Furyborn and Kingsbane is vast, but Claire’s writing and descriptions bring the world to life and help to not make the world feel so big. She’s truly a talented fantasy writer and I cannot wait to see what she does with the third book.

“She had felt in that moment, that she was a mere vessel. A conduit between the power in her blood and the flames overhead, licking for a taste. Would there ever come a time when she could use her power and not feel as if it was using her?”

Rielle continues to be the butt-kicking hero we all want, but as we learned in Furyborn, she’s not destined to be the hero, but the villain. But even throughout this book, as her mind and her journey start to take a darker turn, she still remains the powerful girl we all loved in Furyborn. However, like all great heroes, temptation can easily sway a hero to do things one normally would not do. And that starts to be the case for Rielle, even as she fights Corien and even as she tries to prevent the world (and her closest friends) from seeing what she is truly becoming. She doesn’t want Audric to see her differently, but how can Rielle prevent that when darkness starts to tempt her?

Eliana, on the other hand, does not want to become what she is destined to be: the Sun Queen. She would rather neglect her powers and her future, fearing the possibility of her becoming just like her mother, Rielle. She struggles coming to terms with her new life and what she represents to the people. She struggles with how her life has drastically changed and how there is no going back. The only path is forward and watching Eliana’s character development throughout Kingsbane reminds me how we all have journeys and how, eventually, we all have to find out who we are meant to be. So, overall, both of these girls’ characterizations in Kingsbane is phenomenal and well written.

Don’t go into this book underestimating these two girls: they are powerful and inspiring and fierce. Though they struggle with defeat and living up to their purpose, they both prove that they have what it takes to handle any battle, any hardship that is thrown their way. And just seeing these two characters go through so much (good and bad and evil) reminds me just how fragile, yet strong they really are and that both are still human.

Kingsbane is an outstanding sequel to Furyborn and, in my opinion, some of Claire’s best work. I honestly cannot wait for book 3. I am so invested in these characters and this world that I need to know what happens and if there’s a happy ending for a few of the characters (one can hope).

Kingsbane is out in the world today, so go grab your copy! And if you have not read Furyborn yet, I highly recommend!

nikole

 

*ARC Review* Finale by Stephanie Garber

FinaleTitle: Finale (Caraval #3)

Author: Stephanie Garber

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: May 7, 2019

Page Count: 496 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Summary:

Welcome, welcome to Finale, the third and final book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Caraval series!

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…all games must come to an end.

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates have been freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella has seen Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finally, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun―with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win…and those who will lose everything. . .

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♠ Halt, Caraval players! I must warn you that the review below will contain spoilers from the previous two games. If you wish to see my thoughts on Caraval and Legendary, please click the links above. Without further ado…Welcome, Welcome, to my review of Finale, where all games will come to an end! ♥

Caraval fans all over the world are in for a treat! Finale is absolutely magical and gripping, you will not be able to put this book down. Stephanie wraps up everything with a bow and it is glorious. I have never felt more serene and content with any series ending before Finale. 

461FDE62-13A9-4E9C-AA0F-6EAF794E69D9Finale picks up a few weeks after the events in Legendary, where Legend is waiting to become the new Emperor. Things did not end well between Tella and Legend, but both are determined to rectify that, but in very different ways. And Scarlett is still struggling with who she wants to end up with: Julian or the Count. When Scarlett stumbles upon shocking information, she must decide what is truly worth fighting for if she wants a happy ending. Both sisters must make multiple life-altering decisions in order to face off against some of the Fates and secure their happy endings.

Tella continues to be my favorite sister (after her story continuation in Legendary). I want her to have a happy ending, but she does not believe she deserves one, even thought she deserves to be happy. But the question remains: who will she end up with: Jacks or Legend? Both men vying for her are wonderfully described and irrevocably handsome. She never expected to capture the attention of a Fate, or even the Caraval master. But I’ve noticed that most lives are filled with unexpected surprises, and both sisters receive plenty of surprises in this book.

It’s no spoiler that Caraval and Legendary were both stories filled with magic and romance. Finale is the same way, but this story is more romantic and filled with magic on every singly page. The magic in this series is so unique and beautiful and it leaps off the pages. New and old magic is discovered in Finale, and let me tell you, it’s absolutely breathtaking. I did not think this series could get any more magical. but it does. Every page, every chapter, is filled with magic and it is captivating.

This book, though fantastic and magical, was also heartbreaking. It was heartbreaking because it meant this would be the last time I would ever return to this world and the characters (unless Stephanie writes novellas; PLEASE!!). This would be the last time I’d discover new places with these characters; sure, I can always return to the world by re-reading, but there is nothing quite like reading a book for the first time. And Stephanie has created a world and intriguing characters that will always have a place in my heart.

I don’t know how Stephanie does it. She’s an outstanding storyteller, and I hope to someday have the skill she has in writing. This series has been a journey filled with magic and romance and heartache, and it was beautiful to watch everything unfold. I’m telling you now, if you have not read this series, you need to. You will not be disappointed!

nikole

*Reread Review* Legendary by Stephanie Garber

It’s that time of year everyone! The birds are starting to chirp, the weather is getting warmer…and Finale is hitting shelves in just a week! So, to take part in all the excitement, I’m posting my thoughts about reading Legendary for the second time. Flatiron Books on Twitter is doing a wonderful Caraval Reread to help prepare for the release of Finale (which comes out NEXT WEEK!!). I can barely contain my excitement for this world and the final book (though I will admit I am sad to see the story end).

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Legendary2Title: Legendary (Caraval #2)

Author: Stephanie Garber

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: May 29, 2018

Pages: 451 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Summary:

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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If you would like to see my Reread review of Caraval, click here.

I thought Caraval was magical and that nothing could surpass the first book. But I was wrong. Legendary is twice as magical and twice as romantic. Legendary is such a fantastic sequel to Caraval.

Legendary follows Tella on her journey to save her mother while also trying to uncover who Legend really is. She knows that if she gives up Legend’s true name to the person she bargained with, Caraval and all the magic of the game with cease to exist. But if she doesn’t, her mother will be lost to her forever. In order to find out Legend’s true name, she must win the second game of Caraval, while also trying not to lost her heart in the process.

Legendary is one of those sequels that will capture your attention from the first line and keep you hanging until the very end. I never wanted to put this book down, especially the second time reading it because there were so many things I missed during the first read. Stephanie truly knows how to capture an audience’s attention and keep them wanting more.

In Caraval, the reader is experiencing Scarlett’s journey. In Legendary, we experience Tella’s journey. Tella is almost the complete opposite of Scarlett. Tella is brave and sassy and sometimes impulsive, and she’s about to learn what it really means to sacrifice, especially for those you love. Tella’s characterization in Legendary is extraordinary. She has so much hope throughout this novel that her hope gives me hope that there will be a happy ending for all the characters. She’s a breath of fresh air, and experiencing her journey with her was amazing. I loved Scarlett in Caraval, but Tella, in my opinion, brought so much more to the series.

There is still that beautiful bond of sisterhood with Scarlett and Tella, but in Legendary, we get to experience who Tella is when she’s not with her sister. Tella comes into her own and, as the reader, we really see her develop into a strong and intelligent young woman. And her relationship with Dante, one of the Caraval players, brings a sense of fun and adventure and romance to her life, something that she never thought she would get to experience.

In Caraval, the Deck of Destiny was barely mentioned, mainly just an after thought for what’s to come in Legendary. But Legendary explores more of the Deck of Destiny and what it actually means to Legend and the people in Valenda (and what it means to Tella).

Caraval and Legendary were both spectacular books, so I can only imagine what Finale will be like. I’m luckily almost done with Finale, and let me tell you, it’s everything I hoped it would be and more. Stephanie Garber is truly a gifted writer and I am so glad she created this beautiful world that means so much to so many people.

nikole

*Blog Tour + Giveaway* Lady Smoke – Laura Sebastian

lady smoke designer credit billelis @billelisTitle: LADY SMOKE (Ash Princess Trilogy #2)

Author: Laura Sebastian

Pub. Date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 512

Find it:

GoodreadsAmazonAudibleB&NiBooksTBD

The sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that was “made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir” ( Bustle ), Lady Smoke is an epic new fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people. 

The Kaiser murdered Theodosia’s mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo’s country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess–a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn’t realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.

Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage–Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser’s rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.

To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.

Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself.

A darkly enchanting page-turner you won’t be able to put down.” –Bustle on Ash Princess, Book 1 in the Ash Princess series


About Book 1:

ashTitle: ASH PRINCESS (Ash Princess Trilogy #1)

Author: Laura Sebastian

Pub. Date: April 24, 2018

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 432

Find it:

GoodreadsAmazonAudibleB&N,  iBooksTBD

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.


About Laura:

author-photo-300x200Laura Sebastian was born and raised in South Florida (the Redlands and Key Largo) and has always loved telling stories–many apologies to her little brother who often got in trouble because of them. No copies of her first book, a Cinderella retelling about angels circa 2nd grade, remain. Thankfully.

After getting her BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, she moved to New York City thinking that she would stay for a couple of years before going somewhere better suited for a small-town, sun-loving girl. Five years later, she’s still here and madly in love with it.

When Laura isn’t writing, she’s probably reading, baking cookies or cupcakes, buying more clothes than her overstuffed closet can fit, or forcing her lazy dog Neville to take a walk.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram


My Review

Lady Smoke, an exquisite and breathtaking read, is a perfect bridge between Ash Princess and Ember Queen, the final book in the trilogy. Lady Smoke continues where Ash Princess ends, and brings the readers on a journey full of history and the continuous game of cat and mouse.

In Lady Smoke, Theo meets many potential suitors who, in exchange for her hand in marriage, will give her a big enough army to take down the Kaiser and reclaim Astrea. What I liked about all these suitors is that we are given the chance to learn more about the other countries and why none assisted Astrea in that time of need ten years ago. And, of course, Theo’s heart still battles with her feelings for Blaise and Soren; one she knows she loves and one she denies her feelings.

Theo is still playing a dangerous game in Lady Smoke, using her wits to outsmart those who underestimate her and treat her as a China doll. The only main difference is that she’s playing multiple games with her aunt, the Kaiser, and King Etristo. She will have to prove to them all that she is strong enough to be Queen. But she also understands that she has more to lose than she did when she was in the possession of the Kaiser, so she must be choose her battles. As the reader, I was rooting for Theo to come out victorious in her battles; I want to see her take her country back.

In Lady Smoke, Theo discovers more about herself and what she’s capable of, and that power, that realization, is going to set up the third book to begin with a bang (especially with THAT ending). She battles with her actions as Queen; she starts to realize that some of her actions are similar to the Kaiser and that slowly scares her. Not only does she have to figure out how to get Astrea back, she also has to determine how to get the Kaiser’s voice out of her head. But her actions as Queen are not the only thing keeping her up at night. How she left things back in Astrea with the Kaiser haunt her and bring a surprising realization to what she is actually capable of and who she is potentially meant to be.

Overall, Lady Smoke provides a wonderful sequel to Ash Princess, one that will not disappoint. Lady Smoke leads up to what will be a heart pounding end to an amazing trilogy. Queen Theodosia is an ember burning among flames, and she won’t stop until the Kaiser pays for what he did; she won’t stop until she has reclaimed Astrea. The Ash Princess is no more; make room for the Queen of Astrea, the Queen of Flame and Fury.

Lady Smoke releases February 5, 2019.


Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of LADY SMOKE, US Only.

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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

1/1/2019- To Be Read– Review

1/2/2019- A Dream Within A Dream– Review

1/3/2019- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

1/4/2019- Random Bookish Banter– Review

Week Two:

1/7/2019- Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews– Review

1/8/2019- Jrsbookreviews– Review

1/9/2019- Omg Books and More Books– Review

1/10/2019- Fiction Fare– Review

1/11/2019- Du Livre– Review

Week Three:

1/14/2019- Loie Dunn– Review

1/15/2019- A Court of Coffee and Books– Review

1/16/2019- Paws and Paperbacks– Review

1/17/2019- A Gingerly Review– Review

1/18/2019- Lifestyle of Me– Review

Week Four:

1/21/2019- Paper Reader– Review

1/22/2019- Adventures and Reading– Review

1/23/2019- Popthebutterfly Reads– Review

1/24/2019- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review

1/25/2019- YA Books Central– Interview

Week Five:

1/28/2019- Confessions of a YA Reader– Review

1/29/2019- Colorimetry– Interview

1/30/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Review

1/31/2019- Kat’s Books– Review

Hosted by Rockstar Book Tours; thank you so much for including us on this blog tour!

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*ARC Review* Prince of Secrets and Shadows by C. S. Johnson

secretsTitle: Prince of Secrets and Shadows, book two in the Order of the Crystal Daggers trilogy

Author: C. S. Johnson

Publisher: Prodigy Gold Books

Release Date: December 4, 2018

Genres: Young adult, Romance, Historical fiction, Fantasy

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

“How do I know you’re telling me the truth?” The last thing I wanted to do was hurt him, but if I did not find a way to break free of him, I would risk doing even more harm.

Ferdy met my gaze with his. “I promise you this, Ella, that as of now, I will never lie to you again.” He leaned forward and kissed me again, and I stood there, letting him, desperately debating whether I could trust him or not. His promise burned through me, his words scorched into my being. It was so tempting to believe him, more tempting than anything else I had ever faced in all my life.

Freedom was only freedom if I could trust it to be true.

PRAGUE, 1870

After joining the Order of the Crystal Daggers, led by her dauntless grandmother, Lady Penelope, Eleanora Svobodová set out to save her kingdom from oncoming devastation.
And she failed.

Following the attack on Prague Castle, Eleanora is determined to redeem herself. She sets out to win Karl’s trust while distancing herself from Ferdy, whose secrets and lies have done nothing to stop her from falling in love with him. As she struggles to let him go, questions about the mission and her mother’s past cause a rift between Amir and Lady Penelope and add to the growing discord between Eleanora and her brother. 

But when a cunning provocateur arrives in Prague, Eleanora discovers there is an even more deadly game afoot, one that reaches into Amir’s past and threatens Lady Penelope’s future. Now, the members of the Order must work together if they are to uncover the true enemy hiding in Bohemia. 

Can they work together despite their divisions? Or will their division lead to even more destruction?

With spies, secrets, and suspense, Prince of Secrets and Shadows is the second book in The Order of the Crystal Daggers, a spy adventure series from C. S. Johnson.


My review

Please note: this is the second book in the Order of the Crystal Daggers trilogy and may contain spoilers from the first book. You can check out my review of the first book, Kingdom of Ash and Soot, here


Dozens of authors write fantastic first books in a trilogy. And most struggle with writing an excellent sequel. Sometimes the sequel doesn’t live up to the first book, but it’s still good. And sometimes the sequel is just as good as the first book, if not better. In this case, Prince of Secrets and Shadows exceeds its predecessor, Kingdom of Ash and Soot.

“You are young yet, but even you know there are things worth dying for.”

I knew this book was going to be phenomenal when I started the first chapter. I adore books that start almost right where the previous book left off. It’s a wonderful way to refresh your memory and get a feel for the impact the first book left on the main characters. And just like the first book, C.S. Johnson starts the story off with an important scene, one that involves one of my all-time favorite characters. Johnson sets the boundaries straight in the first chapter and gets the reader ready for what to expect throughout the novel. It’s exciting and a great way to start a sequel.

And then enter the one known as the Prince of Secrets and Shadows. He was a very interesting character and added a lot of grief to the story, in the sense that he did not make it easy for the characters. He’s a double-edged sword and, frankly, not someone I would want to mess with. It’s not that he’s necessarily a dangerous character, but he plays a dangerous game of cat and mouse. And his role in this story thickened the plot in a way I did not see coming.

“I used to think being free meant an escape; I thought it meant I would be able to move away from authority and addiction, to be still against the forces of time and space. But as he held me there, pushed against a wall, I knew freedom was not an escape, but a coming home.”

In Prince of Secrets and Shadows, Ella struggles with deciding what she wants to do with her life. She’s in the Order because she wants to follow in her Mother’s footsteps. But her heart desires something different, something more than the life Ella has chosen. Ella wants freedom and love and not to be controlled like she has been most her life. And throughout this book, she starts to realize that freedom and love can decidedly be the same thing.

“Even if you deny your heart, your heart does not go away. That is why everyone lies, everyone has secrets, and everyone has regrets.”

Ella struggles with many of her relationships, in more ways than one. Her brother distances himself from her, causing an unforeseen rift in their relationship. She connects with one of her trainers in a way she didn’t expect. And her relationship with Lady POW grows stronger in a surprising way.

And then there is Ferdy. Oh, Ferdy. There isn’t a part of me that doesn’t love this character. He’s charming, considerate, and just an all-around great character and love interest for Ella. And though Ella battles with her heart and what she perceives as right, he never once gives up on her. Most of my favorite chapters consisted of Ferdy and the tension between him and Ella.

In the first book, Ella is a strong and courageous character. I’m not saying she isn’t in the second book (she’s quite brave and strong-headed), but she now realizes she has way more at stake than just her freedom. And to protect those she loves, she may have to knowingly play that game of cat and mouse.

If you haven’t ready Kingdom of Ash and Soot, I highly recommend. C.S. Johnson has beautifully woven a story that you will not soon forget. Kingdom of Ash and Soot is available now and Prince of Secrets and Shadows comes out next Tuesday, December 4!

Thank you to the author for sending an advanced e-copy for me to read and write an honest review! All quotes are from the advanced e-copy and may not appear in the final novel.

nikole

 

*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!

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