Thursday, August 31, 2017

Swoon Thursday (#240): Highland Flame by Mary Wine

- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting

This week, my swoon is from Highland Flame by Mary Wine!

He captured her in his embrace as he spoke, folding his arms around her as she made another little breathless sound before he tilted his head, cupped her nape, and pressed his mouth against hers.

It felt perfect.

Far better than anything she had ever done. Brenda's words rose from Jane's memory as she kissed Diocail back.

That made it all feel even better.

So she kissed him more firmly, slipping her hands along his chest, delighting in the feeling of his hard body beneath the fabric of his doublet. It wasn't enough, and when she found the open buttons near his neck, she slipped a hand inside and settled it against his skin.

- eARC, page 150

I loved this scene! It ended up being one of the sweetest scenes of the book (apart from also being a steamy one). Diocail and Jane are such a great couple. =) Win the enter series HERE!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Keep of Ages by Caragh O'Brien

Welcome to the nerd blast for The Keep of Ages by Caragh O'Brien! This is the final novel in the Vault of Dreamers trilogy. I've read this conclusion novel and it is excellent! Find out more about it below. There is a giveaway too!

My Reviews:

About the Book:

The Keep of Ages by Caragh O'Brien
Book Three of The Vault of Dreamers series
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: August 29, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the fast-paced, high-stakes conclusion to Caragh M. O'Brien's Vault of Dreamers trilogy, Rosie travels to a derelict theme park to shut down dream mining once and for all.

Driven by fear when Dean Berg kidnaps her family, Rosie Sinclair strikes out across the country to rescue them. When an elusive trail leads her to Grisly Valley, the contaminated ruin of a horror theme park, Rosie has to consider that Berg may once again be manipulating her every move to make her fearful, priming her for a final, lethal dream mining procedure. As Rosie struggles to outmaneuver Berg, she unearths the ultimate vault of dreamers and the hint of a consciousness more powerful and dangerous than any she's imagined before. Faced with unspeakable suffering and otherworldly beauty, Rosie must discover how to trust her mind, her friends, and reality itself.

Propulsive and deeply speculative, The Keep of Ages concludes the Vault of Dreamers trilogy with stirring possibilities for what it means to be alive.

The Series:

(Click on the covers for more information!)

Praise for the series:

“A sharp novel about the ways in which everyone can be manipulated, either through editing or one's own desire to go the easiest path.” ―BCCB

“Like O'Briens Birthmarked trilogy, this dystopian, sci-fi, psychological-thriller hybrid raises ethical and moral questions about science. This might have been a difficult story to pull off, given the environment, but with a likable narrator who is thoroughly unimpressed with herself, it works . . . this should have wide appeal.” ―Booklist

“Fans looking for a science fiction novel that is not heavy on the science fiction or who want something vaguely dystopian will enjoy this title.” ―VOYA

“A mixture of science fiction and contemporary fiction, this novel is an interesting addition to both genres.” ―School Library Journal

“A fast, satisfying psychological thriller . . . The sudden cliffhanger will polarize readers.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Like viewers of The Forge Show, readers will want to keep watching Rosie.” ―Publishers Weekly

About the Author:

Caragh M. O’Brien is the author of the BIRTHMARKED trilogy and THE VAULT OF DREAMERS series, both from Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Ms. O’Brien was educated at Williams College and earned her MA in the Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins University. Her young adult science fiction has been honored by the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, the Amelia Bloomer Award, the Junior Library Guild, and numerous state reading lists. A former high school English teacher, she now writes young adult novels full time from her home in rural Connecticut.

The Giveaway:

10 Winners will receive a copy of The Keep of Ages by Caragh M. O'Brien. Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Waiting on Wednesday (#244): Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm featuring:

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Book Three of the Illuminae Files series
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 13, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion? 

Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha's past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. 

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.

Fiiiiinally this book is on its way to us! Why is it not March yet?! I need this!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Highland Flame by Mary Wine

Welcome to the blog tour for Highland Flame by Mary Wine! I read this book over the weekend and I loved it a lot. The entire series has been a delight, starting with Highland Spitfire. If you like Scottish/Highlands historical romance, don't miss this steamy series! 

About the Book:

Highland Flame by Mary Wine
Book Four of the Highland Weddings series
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: September 5, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Laird Diocail Gordon has just come into his title and inherited his father’s run down castle and rag-tag clan. He knows the sorry sight of the castle would send any woman running, but is determined to find a wife to help return his home to its former glory.

Widow Jane Stafford is on a mission—return to England even if it means trudging through the Scottish Highlands on foot. Her travels lead her straight to the path of danger until a mysterious, brawny man comes out of nowhere and saves her—and the spark between them is immediate. With a target on Jane’s back, she knows the only way to stay safe is to go with Diocail. But the real trouble will be guarding her heart from her newly ignited Highland flame…

The Series:

(Click on the covers for more information!)

About the Author:

Acclaimed author Mary Wine has written over 30 works of Scottish Highland romance, romantic suspense and erotic romance. An avid history-buff and historical costumer, she and her family enjoy participating in historical reenactments. Mary lives in Yorba Linda, California with her husband and two sons.  

Historical facts you should know:

1. A reverence was the proper greeting for this era, sometimes called courtesy. You stepped back with one foot, bent at the knee, keeping your back straight and ‘lowered’. If you were the higher ranking person, you would do the same and it was called ‘offering courtesy’, meaning it was a polite way of greeting one another. Even Queen Elizabeth Tudor lowered herself before the archbishop of Canterbury. 

2. Every house had a buttery….it was where the butts of ale were stored.

3. A butler was the man who kept the keys to the buttery. In this period, he was huge and someone who could defend those keys with his brawn because ale was essential to survival in winter.

The Excerpt:

They both fell silent again as they consumed more of the food and faced a topic neither of them had any experience with. Not many a man did. It was why men wed, and women too, because together a man and woman might combine their knowledge to make a successful home. He’d been taught the logistics of defense and negotiation needed to foster relationships with other lairds.

But how much fare to put on the tables?

He had no idea or even how to go about making sure there were ample hands to prepare the food. Diocail felt his brain throbbing as he contemplated all the things needed to run a kitchen, and those were only what he knew about. What truly nauseated him was that he knew damned well how lacking his knowledge was. He knew how many men to ride out with, how many horses, and his education continued on to include how many blacksmiths it took to make sure those horses were shoed, how many stable lads it took to make certain those animals were fit to ride, how much feed and what sort was needed to maintain a horse’s strength.

A hundred details, and a kitchen was no different. No wise man made the mistake of thinking it an easy thing to keep running smoothly. Their current circumstances were proof of that surely enough.

“Ye need a wife, one raised with the education to see this place set right. No’ that any decent girl would have this house as it is,” Muir added. “Try to contract one, and she’ll run home to her father the moment she sees the condition this castle is in. But ye need one. A wife, that is.”

“I hoped to have a bit of time before getting down to that part of being laird,” Diocail groused.

“Best set yer secretary to sorting through the offers in Colum’s study.” Muir didn’t offer him any respite.

“Do nae hold out any hope,” Diocail replied. “There is a decade of letters sitting there. Any offers are long past their time of opportunity.”

His new lairdship was proving to be far more challenging than he’d ever thought it might be. Somehow, in all the times his mother had spoken to him of the day he’d take over the Gordon clan as laird, she had never mentioned just how complicated the duty was. There was building to consider, horses, men, training—and the list went on. All things he’d been taught as a man.

Now there was the kitchen, and God only knew what else went along with running one smoothly.

Well, not God.

He let out a grunt. Here was something he knew less about than the Lord above.


And, more precisely, a lady and the duties she would have been trained to do.

There were reasons a laird wed a woman from a highborn family, and one was that she would come with an education as diverse as any given to a laird’s son. Running a kitchen was more than turning bread; it was knowing how much bread to set out to rise in the morning so that the supper table was full and how much grain was needed to make it through the winter and how many hands were needed to produce it all. His head began to ache. He didn’t know what went into bread, much less how much was needed to see an entire castle through a day, but as laird, his duty was to make certain the tables were laid with fare.

Nor did he know anything at all about helping a lady settle into the place he hoped she’d make into a home.

Muir was correct; she would run back to her father before sunup.

Diocail took another swig of the whisky, wishing it would dull his senses.

But all it did was warm him enough to make him conscious of the draft coming through the holes in the roof. He tipped his head back and discovered stars peeking at him where tiles were missing, likely from the winter storms. Colum was a bastard for leaving his people to such circumstances.

Laird of the Gordons. Diocail’s mother’s dream.

And his nightmare, it would seem.

The Giveaway:

Two bundles of Mary Wine’s Highland Weddings series!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Blog Tour Review: Dragon Burn by Donna Grant

Welcome to the review and excerpt tour for Dragon Burn by Donna Grant! I have read this novella and I can confirm that it is fiery hot. (See what I did there??? Ha! I'll see myself out.) :D Below I have my review, and there is an excerpt. Enjoy!

My Review: 

Dragon Burn by Donna Grant
Book 11.5 of the Dark King series
Publisher: Evil Eye Concepts
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC provided by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

In this scorching Dark Kings novella, New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant brings together a determined Dragon King used to getting what he wants and an Ice Queen who thaws for no one.

Marked by passion.

A promise made eons ago sends Sebastian to Italy on the hunt to find an enemy. His quarry proves difficult to locate, but there is someone who can point him in the right direction – a woman as frigid as the north. Using every seductive skill he’s acquired over his immortal life, his seduction begins. Until he discovers that the passion he stirs within her makes him burn for more…

Gianna Santini has one love in her life – work. A disastrous failed marriage was evidence enough to realize she was better off on her own. That is until a handsome Scot strolled into her life and literally swept her off her feet. She is unprepared for the blazing passion between them or the truth he exposes. But as her world begins to unravel, she realizes the only one she can depend on is the very one destroying everything – a Dragon King.

What I Liked:

I don't read too many novellas because they're often way too short, but I've read several from the 1,001 Dark Nights collections, and I've enjoyed all of them. The idea behind 1,001 Dark Nights is fantastic and I'm sure all of the novellas that have been published so far have been excellent. Dragon Burn is no exception! I adored Sebastian and Gianna's story. 

Sebastian, a powerful Dragon King, is in Venice to find information about a man who might be framing Ulrik (Sebastian's friend and fellow Dragon King) for terrible deeds. Ulrik hasn't been found in a long time, and the man in Venice is as mysterious as they come. Sebastian is fairly certain he has located the man, and he is going to get close to the man's personal assistant to find out. But seducing Gianna backfires when Sebastian realizes that he doesn't want to use her - he simply wants her, no matter his reasons for being in Venice. When his search puts her life in danger, Sebastian must choose what is more important to him - justice for Ulrik, or the fiery woman who is definitely his Ice Queen. But what if he can have both?

I'm kind of a sucker for paranormal/fantasy romance novels involving a non-human male and a human female. It's not quite the same for me when the roles are reversed, for some reason. I love the dynamic that the non-human male/human female trope has on a story. And it works so well, in Dragon Burn. Sebastian is a powerful immortal Dragon King, thrown off his game by a mortal human he set out to seduce. Gianna is a tough workaholic whose ex-husband described as boring. The two of them fit together so well.

Sebastian has to make some top ten book boyfriend lists. He is so dreamy! He's Scottish and he's a sweetheart with nice manners. Did I mention how much I love powerful non-human males in paranormal romance? Especially an alpha? Sebastian is a Dragon King, and he has been around for a while. He is clever and smart, charming and lethal. Did I also mention powerful and sexy? While I loved the length of this novella, I feel like there should be a full-length novel for Sebastian (and Gianna). I wouldn't mind seeing more of his story!

Gianna is perfect for Sebastian (just like he is perfect for her). She is a hard worker and a loyal woman. Not once was she ever afraid of Sebastian, even when she found out what he was. She trusted her instincts and followed her heart, but she also used her brain and didn't jump to conclusions or run before hearing explanations. Smart girl. I liked her a lot! 

The two of them together are straight fire. Grant cooks up such great chemistry. Gianna may think of herself as a cold workaholic, but being with Sebastian proves that she is just as passionate as he is. I loved watching them ignite. But it's not just lust and sexy times - they fall for each other with each passing page. It's adorable, really. He tries not to care for her because he doesn't want her involved. But their feelings couldn't be stopped!

Also worth mentioning - I've not read any of the books in this series, nor have I read any of Grant's other books. I was confused when "Ice Queen" was brought up. I thought Gianna was also a non-human, but she isn't. From what I understand, "Ice Queen" is the Dragon King's chosen mate, and Sebastian calls her that time after time. But she is human!

This novella didn't feel too short like most novellas do, which I appreciated. There is a lot of swoony and sexy romance, but there is plenty of action too. This book involves a lot of dragons, fae, and even a Druid. It's an exciting story, right up until the end. The ending itself is lovely. 

What I Did Not Like:

While this novella was a great length, of course I wouldn't have minded more! More sexy times too. But alas, therein lies the rub - this is a novella! Again, this novella didn't feel rushed or too short. But I would have loved more!

Would I Recommend It:

Any fan of Donna Grant should read this novella - it is definitely worth it. I often think that novellas are a waste of time because they are so short and might not add much to the series - but this novella is a standalone story and it is so fantastic. Adult PNR fans, this novella is wonderful! I might go as far as to recommend the series in general, but this is the only story of the series that I've read. But I may check them out! At the very least, the other two 1,001 Dark Nights novellas Grant has written.


4.5 stars. I loved Sebastian and Gianna's story, and I definitely want more! I'm going to check out the series. Maybe future books, in hopes of catching a glimpse of Sebastian/Gianna cameos. It would be nice!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

About the Author:

Donna Grant is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the sizzling Dark King series featuring dragons, immortal Highlanders, and the Fae.

She was born and raised in Texas but loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her throughout the United States as well as to Jamaica, Mexico, and Scotland. Growing up on the Texas/Louisiana border, Donna’s Cajun side of the family taught her the “spicy” side of life while her Texas roots gave her two-steppin’ and bareback riding.

Despite deadlines and voracious reading, Donna still manages to keep up with her two children, four cats, and one long haired Chihuahua.

The Trailer:

The Excerpt:

She lifted her hand from the water, raising her arm to watch the droplets run down her limb. “I wish I could stop time.”

“I know,” he murmured and kissed the side of her face. “I do as well.”

“The day flew past. And why do I feel like everything is ending?”

Because it was, though he wouldn’t tell her that. “It’s no’ over yet.”

She reached back and wrapped her arms around him, a moan rumbling in her chest. “My body is no longer mine. You’ve touched every inch. I can feel you on my skin and deep inside me.”

He brought her arms down before running his hand along her arm and intertwining their fingers. His mouth moved to her ear where he whispered, “I can still feel your fire.”

“It’ll always be yours.”

They remained until the water began to cool. It was the only thing that drove them from their silence. Sebastian glanced out the window and saw the darkness. He knew before Gianna finished drying off that she was leaving.

His mind raced with ideas of how he could get her to stay. He started to reach for her, to kiss her and make love to her again, but it was only prolonging the inevitable. He had business he needed to take care of, and the farther away Gianna was from that, the better.

While she gathered her clothes in the trail they’d left, he grabbed a pair of jeans and a white tee. When he went downstairs barefoot, he found her sitting on the sofa putting on her shoes.

His boat had been returned last night, thanks to his careful planning and the huge amount of money he’d paid. He could drive her home, but Sebastian knew he wouldn’t leave her if he did. The best thing would be to let her go now. Though it was killing him.

She drew in a deep breath and released it as she came to her feet. “This is good-bye, isn’t it?”

“It is.”

Her eyes moved to look out the windows over the Grand Canal. “But you’ll return one day.”

“Sure,” he lied. He didn’t have the courage to give her the entire truth—that as long as she was alive, he’d never return to Venice.

Because if he did, he’d go to her.

He’d search until he found her—and then he’d never let her go again.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Review: Highland Flame by Mary Wine

Highland Flame by Mary Wine
Book Four of the Highland Weddings series
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Laird Diocail Gordon has just come into his title and inherited his father’s run down castle and rag-tag clan. He knows the sorry sight of the castle would send any woman running, but is determined to find a wife to help return his home to its former glory.

Widow Jane Stafford is on a mission—return to England even if it means trudging through the Scottish Highlands on foot. Her travels lead her straight to the path of danger until a mysterious, brawny man comes out of nowhere and saves her—and the spark between them is immediate. With a target on Jane’s back, she knows the only way to stay safe is to go with Diocail. But the real trouble will be guarding her heart from her newly ignited Highland flame…

What I Liked:

As soon as Diocail showed up in this series (which, if I remember correctly, was during Highland Hellion), I knew I wanted to see more of him and his story. He was the perfect combination of stern, authoritative leader and fair, good man. Reading this book was a delight and I was so happy to see him get a happy ending that suited him. 

In the previous book, Diocail inherited the title as chief of the Gordon clan. He has returned to the castle, which is in a disarray. It needs repairs and a good semblance of order, especially with the clan unsure of Diocail's leadership. The last thing Diocail needs is an English widow crossing his lands wearing nothing but a shift. Jane Stanley's husband has died, and his gambling deaths have cost her. She was fleeing to England to return to her father's household, and she was not faring well when the Gordons find her. Diocail promises her that she will not be harmed by anyone in the clan, and he shows her much more kindness than she expected of anyone. Relying on Diocail becomes easy... as does falling in love with him. 

I just want to gush about Diocail, is that bad? He's such a good man, possibly one of my favorite HR heroes. He's so honorable and sweet, yet commanding and unyielding. It's an irresistible combination, and it works so well with this character. I adored him since "meeting" him earlier in the series, and I adored him even more in this book. He is so patient and kind with Jane, and yet he goes after what he wants. He is stubborn and proud, and sometimes those traits get him into a little trouble with Jane, but she loves those parts of him.

Jane is a tough heroine, which is no less expected given how feisty the other heroines are, in the previous books. With her husband dead and no belongings, she has nothing to lose. She doesn't like depending on the kindness of Diocail, though she is grateful for it. I love that she was more than willing to help the Gordon men, whether it came to mending shirts, or owning up to a mistake that would have cost Diocail all of the hard work he had done to make the clan more unified. Jane is a good match for Diocail, and Diocail is a good match for her.

The two of them are so fiery together! There is a lot of chemistry between them. Jane is no timid English lady, and Diocail is definitely not a shy man. He's a leader and a born alpha, and she is a woman with a bit of a temper. Both of them are stubborn, both of them are passionate, and both of them don't deny their attraction to each other. There are some really steamy scenes in this book - it's easily the sexiest of the four! Diocail is a strong guy, and Jane loves his strength.

As with all of the books in this series, there is a wedding fairly early on (maybe halfway through), and then there is the rest of the story which involves the hero wooing the heroine. I didn't mind this setup in this book at all, because Diocail and Jane were somewhat forced to marry. Diocail wanted to marry someone who chose him, and he wants Jane to choose him, even though they are already married. It was sweet (and funny) to see him refuse her because of this. They are so good together, but he wanted someone to love him and want him. She never wanted to get married again. The two of them have to work at their relationship. Falling in love wasn't easy, but they stood no chance. 

This story was a joy to read, and I breezed through it very quickly. It is a fantastic addition to the series, and an excellent Scottish romance novel in general. I do hope there will be at least one or two more books in the series!

What I Did Not Like:

I can't think of anything that I didn't specifically like or had issues with. This book was lovely!

Would I Recommend It:

I recommend this book if you enjoy Scottish romance novels. This author has become a go-to author when I am looking for books set in the Highlands. The heroes are sexy alphas, the heroines are bold, fierce ladies, and the romances are steamy and sweet. Plus there is always a good dose of humor and fun!


4 stars. I said this earlier but I really hope there is another book to this series, or maybe two! The ending of this book, in terms of some of the secondary characters, certainly left the possibility open, so I'm crossing my fingers. I would welcome it!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Stacking the Shelves (#244)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, August 20th to Saturday, August 26th?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:

Entangled blogger package, featuring Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

I love everything about this package! It was a surprise and so very much appreciated. I started reading Black Bird of the Gallows almost immediately, and I loved it. My review is HERE! If you're in the USA, you can win a copy of the book. =)

Review copies from this week - all unsolicited but definitely appreciated! I hate that I probably won't read any of these, but I'll do my best to try, or at least send them to good homes. It's a great mix!

Button-y swag!

A trade with Nikole, who is awesome. I have more buttons than a person ever should, but you don't hear me complaining. One day I'll post a picture of me swimming in my buttons. For now though, I'll keep collecting more. :D

Another swag trade!

Thanks, Raisa! I love trading mostly because I get rid of books productively and I don't mind receiving swag (as opposed to more books), most of the time. It's a win-win situation!

Ember/Torch cuff

GUYSSSSSS! I've been looking for this for ages, hoping someone would post it on #booksfortrade or give it away or something. It was part of the amazing mailing for A Torch Against the Night last year. I didn't receive that mailing (sadness!) but I ended up getting the armlet cuff, which is awesome! Thanks so much to Dahlia for making this happen!

From Edelweiss:


Harper dumped a ton of YA books on Edelweiss, but I only downloaded one. I didn't realize that Beautiful Lawman was uploaded (for a while now!) so I got that one too. I have been dying to read it, ever since I saw the announcement about it!

Reviews from this week:

(Click on the covers to go to my reviews!)

Favorite Instagram post from this week:

Not a bad week! It went by so quickly - I can't believe it is Saturday already. And September is only a few days away! It's baffling. 

I barely saw the eclipse here in Baltimore, on Monday! It rained in parts of the city, so the overcast didn't really help. But it was cool. I hope my Texan friends and followers will be safe and well during this hurricane!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Review: Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

I'd been looking forward to reading this book for quite some time, ever since a description was released. It has been a high-priority read for me, and a high-priority publication for Entangled. I had hoped that my expectations were not too high and I wouldn't be disappointed. I had nothing to worry about. This stunning debut is dark, imaginative, and enthralling, worth every bit of attention and hype it has received.

In this story, Angie Dovage's world is turned to chaos, and it starts with crows. It has been years since anyone bought the neighboring house, but one day, a family moves in. Angie's new neighbors are a little strange, especially the teenage boy who is in many of her classes. What's even stranger is the arrival of many crows - and bees. There is more to Reece Fernandez, there is more to the crows who follow him - and Angie - and there is more to the bees. Angie finds herself in the midst of a supernatural war between the cursed Beekeeper and the harbingers of death. The town of Cadence is marked, and there can only be one outcome: death.

From the start, I was hooked and I couldn't stop reading. There was no chance of me putting down the book until I finished. Kassel's writing and the flow of the story made it easy to get sucked into the story and lose track of time. I was never bored, so there was no worry about DNFing.

I was a little surprised when I connected with Angie almost right away! She is a bit of a social outcast in her high school, due to something in her past surrounding her mother. But she is very gifted with music, and is a DJ at a club on weekends. She is smart and talented and a hard worker. She is also so strong and resilient, especially with everything she went through with her mother.

I liked how that was revealed incrementally (what happened with Angie's mother). The first time you realize something is different about Angie's parental life, it's just this one phrase, a few words. The author slowly reveals parts of Angie's past. I love how the author ties it all together by the end. 

Reece is the male protagonist and I absolutely adored him. He is more than a swoony love interest (though he definitely is that). He's sweet and thoughtful, and occasionally he has broody moments, and protective moments, and a whole bunch of selfless moments. Reece is by no means a perfect guy, but he is very smart and full of worldly knowledge, so he understands certain things better than most. I liked him a lot and I thought he was a great character opposite Angie.

There were many lovely secondary characters worth mentioning. Angie's dad is such a cool guy; he is fairly well-off, after a lot of hard work. He loves Angie so much and has a great relationship with her. He's a single dad, but he is really slaying the parenting thing. Here is an excellent example of a healthy parent-child relationship in YA lit - he is there, in his kid's life, and he isn't oblivious or always working. 

And then there are Angie's friends, Deno and Lacy. They are wonderful friends, so supportive and loyal. I also love that they each have a thing for each other - such a cute slow-burn almost-romance happening there. But mostly I was happy to see a great friendship between the three of them. 

Reece's family isn't as present as the other characters (and with good reason), but they are a wonderful family as well. I especially liked Reece's mom and really wished something could have happened between Reece's mom and Angie's dad!

I loooooved the romance between Reece and Angie. They meet and the attraction begins, but it takes more than that for them to fall for each other. The interest is there, but the feelings start to build as the story goes. Kassel packs this book with plenty of Reece/Angie interactions, and there are a number of yummy swoons too. The romance progressed at a good pace, not too insta-love-y but not too slow either. I loved watching these two interact!

The story is very action-packed and fast-paced, though not in an overwhelming way. The beginning of the book is more focused on Angie trying to figure out what is going on with the crows, the bees, Reece, and this creepy guy (who is revealed to be the villain). Then, when things are revealed to her, the real danger begins. The creepy buy - the Beekeeper - is intent on hurting Reece, and he'll go through Angie to do so. The "why's" and the "how's" are explained!

The ending is very exciting and it wraps up well. There is a HEA. I believe this book is a standalone and I'm all for it - the story ends in a great place. But I also wouldn't hate seeing another book to follow, though it would be cool for this book to remain as it is. I loved the story and will probably being saying this a lot in the future!

What I Did Not Like:

There isn't anything specific that I didn't like. However, I would have loved to understand a little better what happened to Angie at the very end, in terms of this one thing. I didn't have a great grasp of this one aspect - the story went from one chapter to the next, one scene to the next. I can't say more without being specific and spoilery but there is something about the ending that could have used a little more explanation.

Also, I wouldn't have minded more from Reece and Angie in terms of their relationship! They were incredibly cute and lovely together.

Would I Recommend It:

Fans of YA paranormal romance, this is a book for you! I love this kind of story. I love this kind of romance. I would definitely reread this again and I highly recommend it. It is appropriate for younger teens and up, as it is low on "inappropriate" language, sex, and violence. Well, there is violence, but it isn't too graphic or gruesome. In any case, this book would be a great addition to any YA reader's shelf!


4.5 stars. My default is to round down but this is most likely going to end up on at least 2017 favorites list of mine, regardless of the rating. I'll be looking out for more by this author for sure. This book is a one-of-a-kind debut that should be on everyone's radars!

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