Honey and Venom: Confessions of an Urban Beekeeper by Andrew Cote (2021)
Honey and Venom is touted as a year in the life of NYC beekeeper Andrew Cote. While it was not quite what I expected, it was still an enjoyable and informative read! Cote is a fourth generation beekeeper (or "beek" as they sometimes call themselves) who clearly has a passion for the art. Each chapter represents a month of the year and he briefly describes the type of work that he will typically do in that month, while also recounting stories from his life that also took place during that time of year. His beehives grace the rooftops of some of New York City's most famous buildings, but his career has taken him all over the world as he educates others. Cote also gives the reader lessons in honey bee anatomy and behavior. His writing style is very readable and approachable, and he made the more scientific parts easy to understand. Although it was a bit uncomfortable when he called out other people's bad behavior, many of his stories were fun and interesting. 4 stars
The Beekeeper's Promise by Fiona Valpy (2018)
A dual timeline story about a woman in the present day who works at the Chateau Bellevue in France and another woman who lives and works as a beekeeper on the property during World War II and finds herself working for the Resistance. On paper, this book should have been perfect for me - dual timelines, WWII time period, chateau setting in France, loads of good reviews and a 4.3 average rating on Goodreads. Unfortunately, it was anything but. The current day storyline was completely unnecessary. Although I felt for Abi and how she was trying to recover from an abusive relationship and terrible accident, it just didn't work compared to the hardships Eliane was facing during WWII. The connection between the two timelines was forced and didn't make a lot of sense. As for the historical timeline, I think the rural French setting was interesting, but the story added nothing new to the WWII historical fiction genre. It felt like it was just ticking off boxes of things that "should" be included in such a story. It was too surface level, and a lot of things happened off page. The writing was simplistic; perhaps if there had been more nuance, description, and character development, it could have elevated the story. However, like I said, this book has really high reviews on Goodreads, so this could just be a "me" issue. 2 stars
* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.