Cover Image: The Enlightenment of Bees

The Enlightenment of Bees

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Member Reviews

Thank you for the opportunity to read this. I will be posting a full review to Goodreads, Amazon, and Instagram.
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The turnaround between Mia having her life upended and her flinging herself head first into helping others was my favourite aspect of this book. Everything was planned out and then everything crumbles. As someone who has gone through that, i can appreciate the wanting that she had to just get away and start over. 

Intense topics were not steered away from, and refugee camps are perfectly relevant today, sadly, to make this book perfect for this political climate. A wonderfully relevant and enticing read.
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The Enlightenment of Bees by Rachel Linden is one woman's quest to find herself as she travels across the globe to help others. This author is a favorite of mine and I was excited to pick up her latest book. While I enjoyed this novel and its themes, it is not my favorite by this author. It was a bit slower at the start but it picked up later on. I really loved the book's theme of finding the best use of your talents to help others. It is an important message and this is a fun read. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher with no obligations. These opinions are entirely my own.
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I have decided after reading all of Linden's books to date that her work always shows the following a.) a brilliantly authentic atmospheric trip to the settings she clearly knows wells and that feature so well under her competent pen, b.) a heart for adventures that take us beyond our comfort zones and open our hearts and challenge us to step out of our worlds, c.) clear and alluring prose that frames stories that foster two types of romance: that of the characters and the new worlds and settings around them, and a sly, wonderful romance that slowly blooms against beautiful descriptions.

In The Enlightenment of Bees, Linden ensures that her wonderful scenery that sweeps the reader is countered by the social justice issues a now hallmark undercurrent that strengthens and grounds her fiction.

This is the perfect book to lose yourself in and add to your literary passport.

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Bees are reading weakness of mine. It might be odd and random but I usually find myself gravitating to stories where bees play a role. Most of the time including those little fuzzy bugs means a home run. While The Enlightenment of Bees certainly was an enjoyable enough story, it lacked something big for me. And I think what it lacked was depth. There are some heavier topics and subject matters handled but there was no depth to back it up. I’ll get into it heavier shortly.

Mia is a woman whose been in a relationship for the last six year. Ethan is a dream boat who has it all going on. She is expecting him to finally pop the question that he has been dragging his feet on. But life isn’t always as we plan and hope. Mia had to learn that the hard way. While Ethan takes time, Mia uses her time to bake. That is until an opportunity to make a difference come forth. She packs up her bag and takes a shot at exploring the world and offering what help she can to make a difference.

In all honesty, this story is hardly original. This plot has been said and done many times. And I don’t expect all novels to be a brilliant idea that has never been touched. It simply is not realistic. But if you are going to write a novel with a plot that has been read before you have to set yourself apart somehow. There needs to be a profound variation or big twist that has not been done before. Unfortunately, I just didn’t get that from this novel.

I can appreciate what Linden was trying to accomplish. But I have to admit, I didn’t really have the emotional connection to this story that took my caring to the next level. I simply did not have a reader-character relationship with Mia that made me truly care about what happens. In reality, I felt like Mia had a very insular view on life as did the other characters. There were elements of an over the top party and extravagant arrangements before going on their journey. There was also an incident where Mia’s friend received a gift of outrageous proportions while trying to help refugees. Again, I understand what she was trying to do. How she was attempting to show readers growth but I just didn’t receive it well.

Also, Mia’s problems seemed damn ridiculous. You are dealing with refugees and homelessness. People who have experienced war torn countries and Mia’s over here worried about her ex-boyfriend. I feel as if Linden was trying to make light of an incredibly tough situation but it kind of missed the mark. Maybe I am being a harsh reviewer based on other novels that deal with the refugee crisis. But they possessed the proper elements. These authors were deep, emotional, painting reader’s a very real picture that made you uncomfortable. I can’t help but feel like Linden tried to coddle readers when the rawness is what is needed with a refugee story line. Overall, I think this novel was okay. But I think it lacked something essential.

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Fiction for a copy of this novel.

Please note: I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF BEES is a story of self discovery as the heroine finds that the life she had planned on has disappeared. She takes a chance to chase a dream, and finds that dreams can change. It's a heartfelt story of facing hard things and finding yourself and love through them. Recommended to women's fiction fans.

Mia has always felt that she wasn't quite enough or that her love of baking was enough. She wanted to sacrifice her time and travel helping those in need in some way that would change the world. I think many of us can relate to this. Few of us find that we can do that grand of a gesture, but most of us find small ways we can better the world. For Mia, she has to figure out for herself who she is and what she can do to make a positive impact in the world. I loved how easy it was to relate to those feelings and to her as a character. It was a tough for her to go through―to figure out what she may or may not be cut out for. All the while she faces some heartbreaking situations in the slums in India and the refugees streaming into Hungary. She is still so unsure of exactly what she will do and who she is, but eventually she figures it out.

I loved so many of the relationships in this story! There were old friendships and some newly formed. There was family. I especially loved Mia's brother, Henry, and the background noise and dialogue between him and his kids that just cracked me up and that I could relate to as a mother. I also adored her Nana Alice. What a dear, spunky lady. There was also a sweet romance that I felt didn't take over the story, but was a very enjoyable aspect of it. I liked that the story made me think and appreciate the good things in life. So many of us, particularly us women, feel like we need to be contributing in a meaningful way to the world and we don't always see our own roles as mothers or our own talents as doing that. This was a good reminder that we each have our own strengths and can find a way to use those in helping others.

There were a few very small things that I didn't feel quite fit the story. Maybe too many perfect endings to tie the story up, and a few other things that I wasn't completely okay with. However, these were minor.

There were quite a few poignant moments in this story and little nuggets of wisdom that I loved. Here are a few:

When I imagined this trip, imagined a life of service like Mother Teresa's, somehow I didn't factor in the people I would meet. I pictured how I would touch their lives, but I never thought about how they would touch mine.

"I think even small things can change the world for good."

"Remember, Mia, your place in this world is the space where your greatest passion meets the world's great pain. Go find your right place."

"Almost anything can change the world if it's done with love, if you use it to comfort, encourage, or strengthen someone."

In the end, was it what I wished for? I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! It's a story full of heart, finding the world is a hard place, and self discovery, with friendships, family, and romance. Definitely a book worth the read and one that would be a great pick for book clubs. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author!

Content: References to drug use, heavy drinking, and some violence.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through JustReadTours, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.
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I really had a hard time getting into this book. The premise made me want to read it but it became a do not finish for me. I was very sad because I love the cover and really wanted to enjoy it.
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How to find romance on a humanitarian mission? That's somehow what this book should be named. 

Somehow I expected more depth, especially about the humanitarian trip. 

The writing was good, but couldn't make up for the shallow plot.
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Unfortunately this was a DNF for me. I could not connect with the characters. I will day that the writing was very strong and the setting felt vivid and real. I think it will appeal to other readers, however, which is why I still will give it three stars. I would be interested in checking out other books by this author.
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Thank you Netgalley and Publishers for granting me early access to "The Enlightenment of Bees".

I'm currently in the middle of a major move, and will definitely come back at a later time and write out a full review and rating. 

Thank you so much!
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Mia is at loose ends when her long-time boyfriend, Ethan, pulls out a ring and then puts it back in his pocket, telling her he just can't go through with it. Her baking internship ends abruptly and she is adrift. She has a great relationship with her grandmother, Alice, and is encouraged to take a chance and maybe change her life.
Rosie, Mia's friend, suggests that Mia apply for a mission/humanitarian aid program. To her great surprise, Mia is chosen and goes off on a big adventure. Teammates have a range of personalities, though Mia is drawn to Kai. Each person in the program is supposed to have a "how to help people" platform. Mia has applied with a lie of wanting to work in the medical field. When pushed into that at a refugee camp, it becomes apparent to everyone that medicine is not her thing. 
Mia is a baker at heart and needs to learn to embrace it.
I greatly enjoyed this story!
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5 Stars!

I just finished The Enlightenment of Bees shortly after midnight last night. I found it refreshing, engulfing, and moving. It was different than most things that I read, and it took me a little longer than usual to finish it. I was pulled in to Rachel Linden's descriptions and paintings with words after only a handful of pages.

This book was the perfect recipe for me. There are so many threads in this book that I think most readers would be able to pick it up and identify with it. I was mostly interested in the humanitarian theme in the book, and Mia's stirring to create a new life for herself after her plans crumbled (pun intended).

Mia loves to bake the way I love to read. However, growing up she felt that baking wasn't grandiose enough to make a difference in the world. The book carries her overseas where many times her life is in danger and she finds herself wondering just how in the world she will ever find her path. The ending is wrapped up nicely with a bow, and the journey from the beginning to end is so meaningful and thought-provoking for me as an RN turned Industry Consultant.

My favorite quote from the book was probably the one that everyone loves. "Your place in this world is the space where your greatest passion meets the world's greatest pain." I found that I made more highlights on my kindle with this book than any other I've reviewed so far. And, it's probably one of those that needs a place on my physical shelf, as it took up a lot of space in my heart. Rachel's gift for description is unlike anything I've read in quite awhile. She uses familiar smells associated with home and warmth and sprinkles them throughout the book, anchoring the reader in a profound way. I LOVED IT!

Thank you @Netgalley #netgalley and @thomasnelson for the opportunity to read, review, and love this book! @rachellinden_writer I'm going to be a lifelong lover of your writing. I see you are just starting on a brand new one. I'm excited to read your previous works and am looking forward to the ones unwritten. #theenlightenmentofbees #loveabook #5stars #bookreviewer #mustread #greatbook #thomasnelson #movingbook
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This was cute and romantic, but a bit white savior like, even while it tried to address that issue it still was lacking.

The premise of an eccentric billionaire sending entirely unqualified people out in to world to try and help, felt a  tone deaf for our current reality. 

With that said its still a light enjoyable/up lit kind of read and the final message of listening to your own voice was lovely.
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Mia West has her life figured out. Although she’s 26, she knows that any day her college sweetheart will propose and they can start the ideal life they planned together. She as a pastry chef, he as an Internet start-up genius. They’ll live the perfect life together in Seattle in a Craftsman home near Greenlake. 

What happens instead shreds her plans. Ethan has the ring, the romantic spot, but not the commitment to pop the question. He claims he needs time away. Within the week, Mia finds life as she knew it crumbling like a week-old cookie. 

On a whim, she embarks on a humanitarian adventure with her roommate Rosie, who helps her create a little white lie during her interview. What she doesn’t bargain for is the power of the trip to shake up her world and make her reconsider her passions and how they fit into the bigger picture. Can a gal change the world as ‘just a pastry chef?’ 

While her heart slowly heals from Ethan, she finds herself attracted to Kai, one of her teammates on the adventure. As each adventure unfolds, Mia questions whether flipping pancakes in Mumbai will really make a difference. When their team gets called to Hungry to help out with the refugee crisis, Mia’s little white lie catches up to her and she finds herself assisting the refugee camp doctor.

She also doesn’t bargain for her grandma’s ability to use Twitter (nor the embarrassing tweets she sends out). Nor does she think her grand adventure would spark a change in her bee-farmer parents. 

By the end of the trip, Mia returns to Seattle with a plan she never imagined, but one that feeds her soul. 

Everyone from Millennials to those battling a mid-life crisis will enjoy the message of this book. Readers will also think long and heard about humanitarian efforts and our place as Christians in supporting them (or just dedicating ourselves to humanitarian endeavors at home).
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While this was a nice light romantic story it just didn’t really work for me. I had a hard believing some of the plot points and I didn’t like the main character for most of the book. There was some good character development that was redeeming but not fully. The writing was good, the cast of characters interesting and the settings all well done. Even with all of that I was bored throughout much it. A lot of people really loved it though so its still worth giving a shot if it sounds like a good fit for you.

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All opinions are my own.*
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I have to be honest and say that I'm still not sure about the title of this one. The bees seemed to be random add-ons in the book, and I couldn't tell how they fit into the story. 

The thing that kept me most hooked to this book was the fact that that the main character, Mia, and I had absolutely nothing in common. While she wanted to do greater things with her life than just to have a husband and a little home, that's my greatest aspiration in life. However, the story was really good, so I kept reading. I actually enjoyed the conclusion and Mia's realization about serving others using your skills and talents.

After Mia's boyfriend breaks up with her, she decides to leave on a six-week humanitarian mission. She'll travel around the world providing aid in three very different countries. However, just a few weeks into their trip, Mia's group gets sidetracked and sent to a Hungarian refugee camp, where she is faced with the reality of the refugee crisis.

As Mia's eyes are opened to the ways of the world, she must find her place. Is it the life she always thought she wanted? Or is there something greater than she ever knew waiting for her?

I think any time you start talking about issues like the refugee crisis the conversation can turn political. But Rachel did a great job of presenting the issue in a way I'd never seen before. 

I found this book to be so inspiring, and it really made me start thinking about my "sweet spot" in life. (Spoiler: you can still make a difference where you are!) I ended up loving this book--bee confusion notwithstanding.
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This may be one of the most round-about reviews of a book I’ve ever written, so please stay with me as I get to my full impression of this book:

This book took me on quite a reading journey.  I was intrigued by the first couple of pages and instantly liked the author’s writing style.  But as I read a couple of more chapters in the book, I almost decided to give up on it.  To read about a humanitarian team’s training including social drinking at an exclusive resort seemed shallow to me.  However, I could not even begin to figure out what was going to happen next with Mia, the main character in this book, so I kept reading.  About halfway through, there’s a section of this storyline that shows the team as they begin to serve in a refugee camp.  And that’s where I finally understood the author’s intentions of contrasting a shallow and artificial life as opposed to real world problems. From that point in the book, I was completely sold on the story.  The close relationship of Mia and her grandmother underscore everything that happens in this story, and the ending was heart-touching. So, yes, I ended up really liking this book.

Since I review mostly Christian fiction, I want to add this for those of you who read my reviews:  I know this book is published by Christian publisher.  But truthfully, I think it classifies more as “cross over” fiction or “women’s fiction” more than in the Christian fiction genre.  It’s clean book with no foul language or sultry scenes.  I love the author’s writing style.  The theme of the book of compassion and serving others is great.  But there’s not really an overriding theme of faith to it.  And I know that many readers of Christian fiction would have a problem with the social drinking aspect. Just making note of all of this for all of you who are thinking about reading the book.  Will I read another book by the author? Yes, I will.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.
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I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley. This book had me from the very beginning. I love that it kept me engaged the entire time. I couldn't wait to see how it ended. I would highly recommend to all my fellow readers. Thank you for the chance to review this book!
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Mia West is excited to see, Ethan.This was their 6th anniversary. She felt in her 26-year-old bones that today was the day he’d propose. Dreams of today filled her mind as she worked at The Butter Emporium bakery as an intern.

Things were going slow in the beginning of this predictable story. Then Mia’s whole world turns on end. Her roommate helps her get into a humanitarian trip around the world she is going on that is funded by a reclusive billionaire. Mia has a face time interview, then fills out paperwork, tells a fib or three and she’s off with her friend to travel the world. Mia eventually is confronted with the realities of life, love and relationships as she tries hard to not let her feelings run her life. 

Rosie and Mia get more than they bargained for on this trip. This is a coming of age novel and one of self-discovery that starts out in Seattle and moves along from the slums of Mumbai to a Hungarian border camp filled with refugee’s during the refugee crisis. 

 Mia quickly realizes the thing she has been dreaming about doing is not what she thought it would be; frankly Mia’s dreams of helping people around the world gets scary. Her eyes are wide open to the realities in life she’d only read about, now Mia was in the middle of a life-threatening crisis. It gets overwhelming.

This book goes into places I was surprised about and so was Mia. This is a slow paced story as Mia has some revelations on who she is, what makes a relationship work, and where she wants to go in life. She discovers that there is value in being yourself, helping others and it pays to tell the truth. I think this would make a good YA summer read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! 
The Book Club Network blog  
Book Fun Catalogue front page
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Mia West has her life planned out when the book opens. She is set on a career in baking, and after 6 years, she is convinced her boyfriend is about to propose. She loves living in the Pacific Northwest, where her parents run a lavender farm, and her Nana Alice, who taught Mia to love baking, lives close by, in a retirement home. On a picnic celebrating their 6th anniversary, her boyfriend prepared even with a ring, in the last second decides to end the relationship, and then, Mia's position in the bakery is cut. Mia's best friend, who is going on a Humanitarian Mission, mentions that one person backed out and there is one space open. Mia, who has always dreamed of doing her best to help the less fortunate, jumps at the opportunity to leave the cozy comfort of home to volunteer in India, Thailand and Mexico. Mia's trip is one full of discovery (especially, she discovers what life as a #refugee is like), and "enlightenment", and, along the way, her understanding of herself in the world changes.

Rachel Linden, author of the book, is an international Aid Worker, and has travelled to over 50 different countries. I appreciated the detailed descriptions of the places that Mia travelled to and the people that she met along the way. Linden grew up baking with her own Grandma (Sally), on whom Nana Alice from the book is based, and like Mia finds baking an activity that both, connects her to her past, and, allows her to connect with others. She took what she loves about life and put it all together in this wonderful book #theenlightenmentofbees. I loved it. Thank you #netgalley for giving me a digital copy for my personal review.
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