Friday, April 9, 2021

Book Review: The Bookstore On The Beach by Brenda Novak


Eighteen months ago, Autumn Divac’s husband went missing. Her desperate search has yielded no answers, and she can’t imagine moving forward without him. But for the sake of their two teenage children, she has to try.

Autumn takes her kids home for the summer to the charming beachside town where she was raised. She seeks comfort working alongside her mother and aunt at their bookshop, only to learn that her daughter is facing a huge life change and her mother has been hiding a terrible secret for years. And when she runs into the boy who stole her heart in high school, old feelings start to bubble up again. Is she free to love him, or should she hold out hope for her husband’s return? She can only trust her heart…and hope it won’t lead her astray.


The Bookstore on The Beach by Brenda Novak isn’t your typical light beauty read, there is a lot going on in it. It is the story of three generations of women, each troubled and each carrying secrets. The book contains several stories, a husband who has gone missing, kidnapping, teen pregnancy, abuse, and a lover from the past.

It is a rollercoaster of a read with many ups and downs, you will smile and you will cry, it is a very emotional read and for some, it may even have a triggering effect. The storylines are easy to read and keep up with despite the number, however, some of them I quickly grew tired of, for me, I think it was trying to keep everything straight. I am very basic-minded, and while I can keep up with one or two major stories in a book, any more seems to lose me. 

Brenda Novak has never disappointed me with her writing, and The Bookstore n The Beach is no exception, her writing was descriptive and entertaining. Her characters felt real and they were flawed, which I appreciate, I do not like characters in a book that feels perfect. I like the majority of characters in the book, and ones I didn’t give me a good reason not to.

My biggest problem with the book…the ending, I am still not sure how I feel about it, I felt a lot was left hanging, and maybe an epilogue or one last chapter would have made it better for me. 

Overall The Bookstore On The Beach was a great read, with great family dynamics, but I would have enjoyed a bit more time in the bookstore! 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Book Review: The Music Of Bees by Eileen Garvin


Forty-four-year-old Alice Holtzman is stuck in a dead-end job, bereft of family, and now reeling from the unexpected death of her husband. Alice has begun having panic attacks whenever she thinks about how her life hasn't turned out the way she dreamed. Even the beloved honeybees she raises in her spare time aren't helping her feel better these days.

In the grip of a panic attack, she nearly collides with Jake--a troubled, paraplegic teenager with the tallest mohawk in Hood River County--while carrying 120,000 honeybees in the back of her pickup truck. Charmed by Jake's sincere interest in her bees and seeking to rescue him from his toxic home life, Alice surprises herself by inviting Jake to her farm.

And then there's Harry, a twenty-four-year-old with debilitating social anxiety who is desperate for work. When he applies to Alice's ad for part-time farm help, he's shocked to find himself hired. As unexpected friendship blossoms among Alice, Jake, and Harry, a nefarious pesticide company moves to town, threatening the local honeybee population and illuminating deep-seated corruption in the community. The unlikely trio must unite for the sake of the bees--and in the process, they just might forge a new future for themselves.

Beautifully moving, warm, and uplifting, The Music of Bees is about the power of friendship, compassion in the face of loss, and finding the courage to start over (at any age) when things don't turn out the way you expect


The Music Of Bee’s is the debut novel by Eileen Garvin and deals with three people …

Alice is a beekeeper, a widow who struggles with panic attacks and feels trapped in her desk job. 

Jake is an angry ex-skateboarder who because of a prank that went bad is now confined to a wheelchair

Harry who is full of worry and indecision, he lives with this uncle in a trailer that has been condemned.

All three of them come together at a local bee farm.

Garvin does a great job writing the three characters who are all lost and broken, who all come together on the Oregon Bee Farm where they are able to forge out a friendship with each other and finally find healing. It can be a bit difficult to read when you get into the backstories of the main characters. The journey that each one takes is hard and emotionally difficult to read at times. Each character is rich in personality and struggles. However it is the bee farm that helps lighten up the story, and it is one of the reasons I was so attracted to the book. Gavin brought the farm to life with respect to the bees and the keepers and gave me a bit of in-depth education on the keeping of bees, which I really enjoyed.

The Music of Bees is a beautifully written debut, about friendship, hardships, and beating the odds.

Book Review: Love By Design by Effie Kammenou


Mia Andarakis just landed her dream job at a luxury magazine. And even better, her boss is the handsome and enigmatic Nicholas Aristedis, a man she has crushed on from afar. But Nicholas isn’t who she imagined. Irascible and mercurial, his instant dislike for Mia makes it almost impossible for her to work with him.

Nicholas has faced many losses and heartaches in his thirty-two years. Determined to avoid heartbreak, he has closed his heart to love. But Mia awakens feelings in him he had long since denied. And soon he discovers their connection is deeper than he realized.

Mia and Nicolas embark on an adventure across picturesque locations as they launch a new publication and uncover the mystery behind her grandfather’s disappearance. But perhaps the greatest challenge is in learning to set aside their insecurities and fears. Can the two forget the traumas of their past? And will they ever learn to trust in the possibility of love?


I was so excited to be able to revisit the Andarakis family once again in the new book Love By Design by Effie Kammenou, which is the second book in the Meraki Series.

Love By Design is all about Mia, the sister of Kally who was in the first book Love Is What You Bake Of It. Mia the middle sister has just landed her dream job with the new luxury travel magazine Opul as the Associated Art Director. When she meets her new boss Nicholas Aristedis for the first time, sparks fly, but they are not the type either expected, they seem to bring out the worse in each other each time they have to be around the other.

Enemies to Lovers is one of my favorite tropes and Kammenou writes it so well. The tension between Mia and Nicholas is great, you will find yourself cringing along with Mia as Nicholas comes off short with Mia about things she is doing. However, the pair are thrown together thanks to Penelope, Nicholas’s sister who with him owns and runs the magazine. She sends them on a trip to Greece, the first location that the magazine is featuring, to scope out the places they are focusing on. 

Just like Kally’s story Love by Design is a quick read, mostly because once you start reading, you won't want to stop. The characters are real and heartwarming. They struggle, they love, and they hurt. The Andarakis family, which is a major secondary character in itself, especially YiaYia the grandmother that lives with the family. The sub-story of her and her long-missing husband Panos is absolutely one of my favorites and could stand on its own as a book. I love the way that Effie has worked it in the books, teasing us with a little bit more info in Love By Design. 

We also meet Nicholas’s family, which only includes his sister Penelope, who is so likable, especially the way she shows her concern and love for her little brother Nicholas. I found their grandfather Pavlos hard to warm up to, but I also felt he was written as he should have been,  a real man with real concerns about his grandson. 

I really enjoyed both the main characters, Mia and Nicholas. Mia is strong, but she is also sensitive and sometimes wears her heart on her sleeve. Nicolas is a troubled sort and there were times I wanted to scream at him for his unwillingness to admit his feelings, yet moments later my heart broke for him. I was especially surprised by the sweet little twist that Effie puts into Mia and Nicholas’s relationship, it is one of my favorite moments in the book and definitely sweet and swoon-worthy.

I can not say it enough, Effie Kammenous's writing is spectacular. She makes you a part of this big loving and lively Greek family. I know that there is a third book that features the youngest sister Krystina and I hope Loukas. I won’t lie however, I am looking forward to learning the truth about what happened to Panos. And if I am honest I wouldn’t be opposed to a fourth book that deals with brother Theo. It would be great to read about a lead male character and I know Effie would do it justice. 

If you love romance, learning about other cultures, and maybe a bit of mystery, I highly recommend  Love By Design, and while you can read it as a stand-alone, you’d be missing so much of the families dynamics by not reading Love Is What You Bake Of It before it!

**Thank You  Effie Kammenou and Kate Rock Tours for the gifted copy **