Thursday, April 29, 2021

Book Review: Foes and Cons by Carrie Aarons


Sawyer Roarke was my best friend.

Growing up, our families were inseparable. We spent summers vacationing at the beach. In the schoolyard, it was us against the world. Then puberty hit, and we skated the thin line of staying buddies or becoming more.

Until I accidentally found the pros and cons list he made about whether or not to date me. And there were definitely more bullet points on the no side. Acting out of rage and hurt, I embarrassed him in the most public way possible. Now, we’re enemies.

We’ve spent the last two years tearing each other to pieces. Everyone knows that Blair and Sawyer hate the ground the other walks on, and unfortunately, I got the unpopular end of the stick while he became Mr. Prom King.

Until senior year starts, and I’m tired of running scared. For the first time ever, I stand up to the golden boy with the whip-smart tongue. As the challenges and dares pick up speed, hearts start to fall and feelings get entangled. Despite my initial discovery, I wonder if being caught by each other wouldn’t be so bad.

Except Sawyer has no idea what I found all those years ago. And if the truth comes out about why I pitted us against each other, not only will he add one more con to his list … but he can add my broken heart as well.


Have you heard the old saying that there is a thin line between love and war? Well, author Carrie Aarons took that saying and ran with it. I have never read one of Aarons's books, and rarely do I read YA, but her new book Foes and Cons, which is a YA romance was an addicting read. 

Blair Oden and Sawyer Roarke began life doing everything together as best friends. Their families are friends, their fathers in business together. That all changed when they were Sophomores in high school when each of them made mistakes and tore their relationship apart, making them enemies from then on out.

Jump forward to their senior year in high school and Blair arrives back at school looking all hot and changed from spending a summer volunteering in Haiti. Sawyer makes sure she knows that he is still our to make her life a living hell, and she is ready to take him on.

This book does take the enemies to lovers seriously, and at times some of Sawyers's actions are right out bullying, so if something like this does bother you, Foes and Cons may not be the book for you. Reading things like this does not usually bother me, but I will admit that even I cringed at times.

Emotions. Oh how they run high in this story, it is a rollercoaster ride through both Sawyers and Blair's feelings as they navigate the halls of their high school. Heartbreak is heavy throughout with the push and pulls of their hearts. You feel it. I love a book that can put me right in the scene, and I have all the feelings of the characters. You are there when they realize they have feelings for each other and then when they push back again in anger. They walk that thin line very well.

Foes and Cons is a quick, well-written read, it has all the things you’d want in an enemy to lover story…angst, love, and of course hate. Carrie Aarons had the power to keep me entertained in a YA romance and I wasn’t sure that was possible.  

Monday, April 19, 2021

Book Review: The Perfect Daughter by DJ Palmer


Grace never dreamt she’d visit her teenage daughter Penny in the locked ward of a decaying state psychiatric hospital, charged with the murder of a stranger. There was not much question of her daughter’s guilt. Police had her fingerprints on the murder weapon and the victim’s blood on her body and clothes. But they didn’t have a motive.

Grace blames herself because that’s what mothers do—they look at their choices and wonder, what if? But hindsight offers little more than the chance for regret.

None of this was conceivable the day Penny came into her life. Then, it seemed like a miracle. Penny was found abandoned, with a mysterious past, and it felt like fate brought Penny to her, and her husband Arthur. But as she grew, Penny's actions grew more disturbing, and different "personalities" emerged.

Arthur and Grace took Penny to different psychiatrists, many of whom believed she was putting on a show to help manage her trauma. But Grace didn’t buy it. The personas were too real, too consistent. It had to be a severe multiple personality disorder. One determined psychiatrist, Dr. Mitch McHugh, helped discover someone new inside Penny—a young girl named Abigail. Is this the nameless girl who was abandoned in the park years ago? Mitch thinks Abigail is the key to Penny’s past and to the murder. But as Grace and Mitch dig deeper, they uncover dark and shocking secrets that put all their lives in grave danger. 


Wow….that is all I have to say about The Perfect Daughter by DJ Palmer..just wow…the ending. I did NOT see that coming at all… I could end it there but that would be a shite review, wouldn’t it?

Penny has DID which is short for Disassociative Identity Disorder or what use to be called Multiple Personality Disorder, and she has been found covered in blood, holding a knife kneeling down next to her birth mother's brutally murdered body. She is sent to an institute for the criminally insane until her trial. Her mother, is hell-bent on proving that Penny did not kill Rachel ( her birth mother ) But did she?

The book is a great psychological thriller with its horrific murder, and characters that were unpredictable and unreliable. The characters are all well developed, and the scenes with Penny or one of her alters ( the other personalities, Eve, Chloe, and Ruth ) are chilling to read. Palmer seemed to have really done his research on the disorder, and I really liked these moments in the book, learning a bit about the disorder with each scene.

The writing was brilliant and addictive and kept me reading late into the night. Palmer knows how to take the reader on a wild ride of twists and turns, throwing in plenty of roadblocks that will have you guessing if the path you were on was right.

The courtroom scene, which finally reveals the truth, is TV-worthy and will leave you re-reading to make sure you really read what you read. It is definitely a WTF moment.

Tense moments and certainly suspenseful, The Perfect Daughter will not disappoint the thriller fans.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau


Book Summary

Seventeen-year-old Mia, an American girl at an elite summer ballet program, has six weeks to achieve her dreams: to snag an audition with one of the world’s best ballet companies. But there’s more to Paris than ballet—especially when a charming French boy, Louis, wants to be her tour guide—and the pair discover the city has a few mysteries up its sleeve.

In the vein of romances like Love and Gelato, this is the perfect summer adventure for anyone looking to get swept away in the City of Love.

Flo's Review

This was such fun! Through and through, it was a love story to Paris. I loved seeing the city through Mia's eyes. It was so romantic, so beautiful, so exciting, so fresh, so unique. She loved it and I think it would be hard for the reader of this book not to love it as well. Next to the Paris love, my favorite thing about the book was the fun, happy tone. It wasn't a big, dramatic all this stuff happens, there's drama between ruthless girls and backstabbing and melodrama -- none of that. Mia's friends were fun and supportive and I loved reading the friendships. Toward the end I couldn't put it down, but then the climax...I don't know...didn't sit well with me? I definitely understand why it happened as far as the story, but I also feel like it didn't quite fit in with the light, happy tone that the rest of the book had. But that was my only complaint. All in all, this book was a perfect escape. I truly enjoyed getting to spend time with Mia falling in love with Paris and in Paris, and I can't wait to see what else Anne-Sophie writes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Book Review: Elizabeth & Margaret the Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters by Andrew Morton


This biography from a New York Times bestselling author follows Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Margaret as they navigate life in the royal spotlight. They were the closest of sisters and the best of friends. But when, in a quixotic twist of fate, their uncle Edward Vlll abdicated the throne, the dynamic between Elizabeth and Margaret was dramatically altered. Forevermore Margaret would have to curtsey to the sister she called 'Lillibet.' And bow to her wishes. Margaret's struggle to find a place and position inside the royal system—and her fraught relationship with its expectations—was often a source of tension.. This book explores their relationship over the years.


One of the very first biographies I ever read was Andrew Morton's biography on Diana, Princess of Wales. At the time it was one of the most read books at the library, and after weeks of waiting, I finally went out and bought my own copy. I think I read it in a day. He gave us all a look into the Royal Family with that book and now he is back with yet another book on the famous family, this time with Elizabeth and Margaret.

Though written with respect to the Queen and family, he gave us a thorough history Of Elizabeth and her younger sister Margaret, beginning with their childhood and continuing until Margaret's death in 2002.

He shows us how the decision of their Uncle David who became Edward VIII gave up his title and throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, altered Elizabeth, and Margaret's future greatly. It thrust the girls and their parents into a limelight none really wanted when their father then became King. This put Elizabeth next in line for the throne ( even though I am pretty sure she was anyway, because David was in his 40s and still not married when he took the throne ). This also made Margaret pretty much just the heir's sister, later the Queen's sister, and caused her a bit of jealousy. You will follow them through disagreements, love affairs, marriages, family deaths, and childbirth, and of course how they dealt with each other, Margaret a loyal servant to her sister and the crown until the day she died, and Elizabeth the loving sister to Margaret.

The two sisters differed greatly in personality and temperament, Elizabeth was shy and obedient, while Margaret was the life of the party, an attention seeker, very outgoing. He writes about Elizabeth and Margaret as sisters , and as individuals, giving us an insight into their relationship with each other, with lovers, and with family. He does spend a bit more time with Margaret which I enjoyed, as there are already so many biographies on just the Queen.

If you are a fan of the Netflix series The Crown, or just want a deeper look into the lives of these two women, or the Royal Family in general then you need to pick up Elizabeth and Margaret, you won't be disappointed.

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 **