Our Mother who are in labor
Hallowed by they womb
Thy Marriage Done
Thy Queendom come
And then the life everafter
~ Prayer to The Queen Bee
Last month, my book club read a book entitled The Bees by Laline Paul. I’ve heard of The Bees given that there’s been plenty of of buzz about this book as of late (Get it? Buzz! Buzz!) but it wasn’t on my TBR list. Now one of the reasons I belong to my book club (other than getting out of the house) is that so I read books that I normally wouldn’t pick up – to make me step outside of my comfort zone. The Bees definitely did that.
What I Didn’t Expect
First off, The Bees is a fiction book – it is not a study about the life of bees, though the reader does learn plenty about the life of bees and the hive hierarchy.
The book opens with people talking about a beehive in the back yard. Then, the book completely switches gears. The rest of the story is told from the point of view of an overly large – and exceptionally talented – sanitation worker bee named Flora 717. I waited, expecting that the point of view would switch back to the humans. It did not until the final closing scene of the book. As I began reading, a realization struck me: This book is not going to be about humans. There aren’t going to be any humans in this storyline at all. It’s going to be about bees, told from the point of view of a bee.
How Interesting Is The Life of a Bee?
I will say that initially, I was skeptical. I mean, how interesting could the life a worker bee be? Buzz Buzz. You’d be surprised! And I was – surprised and pleased that instead of a boring read about bee, I found an original, rich, engrossing book – and even an enjoyable book – in The Bees.
So What’s It Really About?
The novel investigates the life of a beehive and in so doing, unravels the following themes: politics, religion, freedom, independence, fanaticism, conformity, power, environmental influences, big government, defying authority, police brutality and more. There’s even an attempted coup at the end. Sounds riveting, no? It was!
Accept, Obey, Serve
Above all else, there were three rules to live by in the hive mind: Accept, Obey, Serve and we hear this mantra repeated over and over until it becomes deeply ingrained in each bee’s psyche. This kind of made me think of a dystopian society ruled by one ruler for they often use such matras to control their followers (subjects). The Capital in the Hunger Games comes to mind.
There was also another rule, one that must never be broken under the penalty of immediate death: Only the Queen may lay. Guess which rule gets broken?
If you don’t particularly care for books that anthropomorphize critters, then this book may not be for you. However, if you enjoy dystopian books or think you might enjoy a read about the inner workings and drama of a beehive told from the point of view of a special, headstrong, independent bee, then it’s definitely worth a read. From what I know about bees, it’s obvious that the author definitely did her homework in portraying the intricacies of hive life.
I enjoyed this fascinating, well-written characterization of honey bees and am glad I read it. I found it innovative, intriguing, suspenseful, original and at times, humorous and page-turning. Who knew that a novel about the life cycle of bees could be so interesting? And who knew that I would enjoy reading such a book? I know that I’ll never look at a bee in quite the same way. I would have loved to have seen a map of the hive as an attachment to the book. I must say that now, I’m a bit intrigued.
I give it five buzzing stars out of five!
Want to find out what all the buzz is about? Check it out
This month, my Goodread’s book club featured book of the month was a delightful story entitled One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva and I found it to be not only a refreshing tale of young romance, but so much more.
The blurb is as follows:
Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Why bother, when their home cooking is far superior to anything “these Americans” could come up with? Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshmen year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.
Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. When Ethan gets Alek to cut school and go to a Rufus Wainwright concert in New York City’s Central Park, Alek embarks on his first adventure outside the confines of his suburban New Jersey existence. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again. Michael Barakiva’s One Man Guy is a romantic, moving, laugh-out-loud-funny story about what happens when one person cracks open your world and helps you see everything—and, most of all, yourself–like you never have before.
Thinking on how I would classify this beautiful story, I’d probably say it was along the lines of a young adult gay romanic comedy, for there are more than one scenes that made me laugh out loud. Each page of this novel made me want more and beckoned me to keep reading. I was in fact surprised at how quickly I tore through this book, anxiously awaiting to see how the tender new relationship between Alec and Ethan would develop.
Speaking of develop, the author gives us extremely well-developed main characters and by the end of the novel, I felt as though I were saying goodbye to old friends. These vivid, well-drawn characters come to life on the pages of this book and stay with you well after the book is finished. The supporting cast of colorful characters are also memorable and entertaining: Becky – Alek’s rollerblading, old-movie obsessed, say-it-the-way-it-is BFF is a welcome addition to the story, as was Alek’s fussy, nitpicking mother and his older brother Nik, the “dutiful son” who embarks on voyage of self-discovery himself.
I love a slow romance (rather than a “love and first sight, marry me now kind of romance) and One Man Guy didn’t disappoint. It was a delight to watch Alec’s journey of self-discovery, especially the witty manner in which he managed to overcome the roadblocks to his and Ethan’s relationship and I was relieved to see that the author kept the heavy angst to a bare minimum. I tend not to be a fan of angsty novels. It was also fun to see the orderly, by-the-book world of Alec turned upside down by this enigmatic new boy who came into his life.
Now that is not to say that this novel is simply a sweet little romance. While it is that, it is also more. It’s a study of two cultures coming together and the clashes that can sometimes result of that coming together. It’s about the hurdles of family drama, of embracing your heritage and accepting who you are while maintaining your connection to your roots. Moreover, it’s about the need to understand that sometimes, it’s okay to break the rules – just as long as you know when it’s NOT okay to break them.
While the book is geared toward young adults (high school age) I feel it’s a book that all ages can enjoy and I find this romantic and humorous coming of age tale to be a remarkable addition to the YA/LGBT genre. It’s a charming, captivating and entertaining tale with likable and memorable characters, with just the right amount of romance peppered throughout. What more could you ask of book?
You can check out One Man Guy HERE
Just a quick post to let you all know what’s going on with the Ghost Oracle series (you can read the first book in the series HERE). The next novel in the series, “Anaconda” is now with my beta readers for a final run-through. I hope to have it available by the end of this month. The book cover should be finished fairly soon so I’ll post it when it’s ready.
In Anaconda, our friendly ghost-seeing, tarot card reading high school student Nick Michelson encounters the ghost of a long-dead soldier, who comes to Nick for help. Meanwhile, Nick is having premonitions of someone shooting up his high school. Does this ghost have anything to do with Nick’s premonitions? In a race against time, Nick attempts to stop an unknown serial killer from carrying out his deadly plan.
I’m currently revising the third novel in the series which features magicians, an extremely angry ghost and real-life villains. Nick runs into some major trouble in this story. Not sure if I’ll have it by the end of the year but that’s my goal at the moment.
I’m a sucker for time-travel novels (I even wrote one) so my interest was peaked when I stumbled across an interview with author Rysa Walker during which she discussed her book Timebound, the first book in the Chronos Files series. I was so intrigued that I bought it….and after having finished it, I think I have found myself a new favorite series.
The story begins when 16 year old Kate Keller’s sickly grandmother (also named Kate) tells her granddaughter that she has genetically inherited a supernatural ability to travel through time. She gives Kate a blue glowing medallion and explains that it is the medallion that enables those of their bloodline to time travel; however only those with the right gene can use the device. Her grandmother promises to begin training Kate on how to use the device.
But shortly thereafter, everything instantly changes in Kate’s world. A murder in the past combined with a sinister plot has changed Kate’s timeline and her reality. The present and past that she knew now never took place. With a blink of an eye, Kate suddenly finds her herself in a classroom with a strange teacher and fellow students she doesn’t recognize. People she loved are gone and friends no longer know her – and she learns that if she so much as removes the medallion from her neck even for a moment, she will instantly blink out of existence.
To fix the timeline and restore things back to the way they were, Kate must tear herself away from those she loves and travel back in time to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair where she is to face more than one known murderer. Once Kate returns to the past, she engages in a struggle for survival in a race against time as she tries to prevent a terrible chain of events from taking place and altering the past – or should I say, one of the “pasts”. While in 1893 she uncovers a sinister plot which will devestate the entire world, which makes her success even more crucial.
It’s difficult to talk about this book without giving out spoilers. Suffice it to say that this is an exquisite addition to the YA genre and this exciting novel left me satisfied yet wanting more. The fast-paced story combines mystery, young romance, multiple timelines, power, murder, action, politics, real-life villains and religious zealots – all with an intriguing plot line that kept me turning the page.
I’ve read my share of time travel books whose timelines were so confusing and convoluted that it was difficult to keep track of what was going on and why. This was not the case with Timebound. I felt that the timelines and the intricate web that the author weaved were clearly presented – although it does require the reader to pay attention while reading. There are times when even the main characters are momentarily confused by the various timelines.
The characterizations are excellent. The author brings Kate, her grandmother and all the other supporting characters (including her two love interests from two different timelines) vividly to life in this mind-boggling, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants romp. Think Doctor Who meets Marty McFly but with a tinge of sweet romance thrown in. The author expertly handled the different settings which at times were so vibrant and vivid that they played out like a movie. While Timebound is technically classified as a Young Adult novel, I feel that the intricate and well-crafted plot as well as the riveting storyline will appeal to a much wider audience regardless of age.
From what I could gather, this is the Walker’s first full-length novel and I felt that she shows notable talent in her believable plot development, careful attention to detail and well thought-out characters. Walker intelligently gives us an exciting YA adventure with twists and turns, where answers are elusive and love is mind-bogglingly complicated and impossible – but no matter how complicated, Kate finds that the only impossible thing is to walk away.
This is the beginning of an new exciting series and I can’t wait to read the recently released second book, Time’s Edge. Recommended!!
You can check out Timebound HERE.