Here are my reading stats for the month of May.

I did re-read some books for my #BookReviewBlogChallenge. If you have not looked at the winners yet, please see this post. Thanks to some of the stellar recommendations, my TBR pile is sky-high! 😊

Monthly Reading Stats

  • Audiobooks: Not much in this segment, a mere 35 minutes but spent with my husband who redeemed an Audible credit.
  • Ebooks: 9 books, no completed ARCs. ☹ However, one was a pre-order from Emma Leech which I gleefully read up the very day it was released! Hurrah!
  • Books: 3 books totaling 1,577 pages. The page count is high thanks to 2 really fat books.
  • Avg. Rating: 3.88*

Audiobooks

Even though I am only 25% through the book, I do want to rate it at a 4 on 5, due to the excellent beginning.

  • You are a Writer. Jeff Goins. 4/5. 00:35 hr.

Ebooks

  • To Ride with the Knight. Emma V Leech. 4.5*
  • The Overdue Life of Amy Byler. Kelly Harms. 5*
  • Finding Home. Jackie Weger. 3*
  • A Little Bit Cupid. Box set, multiple authors. 3*
  • You are a Badass. Jen Sincero. 4*
  • Next Door to a Star. Krysten Hager. 4*
  • Supreme Leadership Mentors. Alinka Rutkowska. 4*
  • Write and Grow Rich. Alinka Rukowska, Adam Houge & Alexa Bigwarfe. 5*
  • Rebel Talent. Francesca Gino. 4*.

Physical Books

  • 365 Days of Fibbing. Nirupama PRV. 5*. 434p.
  • Tribe of Mentors. Tim Ferris. 4*. 627p.
  • Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. 2nd Ed. 5*. 520p.

Until next time, Adieu and Happy Reading!

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First of all, a big shout out to all the challenge participants. 🙂 Thank you so much for actively participating. I had a great time reading your entries, exploring new authors and finding more about new genres.

There were 5 participants with a perfect score [200 points], so I did have to apply the tie-breaker timestamp rule. For those who just missed the e-card prize, please know that I hate that I had to choose. I feel for the ones who just missed, and understand that timezones and sheer luck might have been the cause. Still, rules are rules!

With that aside, here are the winners:

First Prize Winner:

Finitha Jose – http://finithajose.blogspot.com/ . Perfect score and first to post on most prompt days.
Prize = $50 e-card prize & digital certificate

Second Prize Winner:

Miss Camilla – https://misscamilasblog.com/. Perfect score and a few points behind on account to the time stamps.
Prize = $20 e-card prize & digital certificate

Honorary Mentions:

All of you had a perfect score, too but missed out due to time stamp rules. Still, it is my privilege to send you the “Honorary Mention Winner” digital certificate! You are all winners in your own right.

Delia – https://wolfmajick.blogspot.com/
Isabella – https://isabellareviewsonline.wordpress.com/
Niru – https://nirupamaprv.wordpress.com/

Other Mentions:

There were 2 other participants I do want to call out for special reasons:
Unidragonfraghttps://unidragonfrag.blogspot.com/
She missed Day07 post, else she was a leading contender.

Sveta Lihttp://sveta-randomblog.blogspot.com/
She started late but picked up quickly, even ratcheting the early bird points for the last 3 prompts.

Claiming the Prize:

To claim your prize, please send me an email at ann_venkat@greatnewreads.com with the following information before May 28th 10 pm EST.

  • Name & Website link (to be used on the digital certificate)
  • Amazon site (US/India/UK/other) – the correct region for the giftcard.
  • Email – preferred if you use the email associated with your amazon account, but not mandatory.

Once again, thank you so much for your active participation. Until next time, Adieu and Happy Reading!

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Family Relationships Reads – Poignant, funny, relatable!

Todays’ review is a book about a single mom with 2 teenagers working as a librarian in a private school. When her estranged husband shows up after being AWOL for 3+ years, she gets a chance to spend an entire week in New York city alone to allow her kids to “bond” with their father.

This mom’s emotional conflicts and experiences in NYC form the crux of the story? Will she forgive her husband and get back with him? Will she find NEW love? How will the kids cope? At times poignant, at times hilarious; the book is a mass of emotions, prejudices, insecurities, and a messy soup of drama, just like real life!

  • Title – The Long Overdue Life of Amy Byler
  • Author – Kelly Harms

Side note, I had seen the cover on NetGalley and saw this book mentioned by some of my bookstagrammer friends. Only after reading the book, when I logged in to review the book on Amazon did I also realize that this book is a bestseller on Amazon Charts AND the Washington Post as well as a GoodReads Choice Award finalist!

REVIEW SCORE = 4.5/5

Thoughts on the Book:

Honestly, the book portrays human emotions extremely well. Think Jane Austen style understanding of how people behave, just modified for the 21st century social media era! Additionally, concepts like #Momspringa and “flexthology” and “mom-figure” are quite intriguing. I wish they could be implemented for real, too!

The characters are the strength of the book. I love how well the author can write from so many different perspectives!

  • The heroine of the story, Amy – She has every right to feel resentful towards the husband who abandoned her and left her without money, job and 2 kids to feed. However, does she have the right to hold the grudge forever, especially when he is doing everything possible to correct his mistakes and improve their lives?
  • The husband – flawed, genuinely remorseful, painted in shades of gray, instead of 100% black and evil. You realize that bad husbands can be excellent dads, the two are not mutually exclusive.
  • Talia and Lena, Amy’s friends – They act partly as alter egos for Amy, sometimes as voices of reasons, sometime even as her guardian angels! How? Read the book, dear reader! 😊
  • Cori, Amy’s daughter – sweet, opportunistic, insecure, competitive, confused – a complex dichotomy of emotions like any normal teenager.

Overall, I loved the book and the storyline.

A couple of concepts did put me off though. Amy is portrayed to be a regular nerdy mom with a rounded figure, yet she is suddenly able to look stunning via a makeover and lands some gorgeous dates! Seriously? Yes, it is a fictional book, but this part jarred a bit.

The husband is ready to pay child support and pay for expensive tuitions and child camp, but never thought to send any for 3 years. The author weaved this well into the story, but my logical brain could not fully accept it. I am deducting a half point for the tiny gaps in the story, with the disclaimer that these do not detract from the book or the reading experience.

Still, the book was amazing – well worth the money! Excellent book.

Similar Works

  • Books – “The Marriage Clock” by Zara Raheem, “America for Beginners” by Leah Franqui, “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks.
  • Movies – Mrs DoubtFire, I Don’t Know How She Does it, The Intern.
  • Genres – Women’s Humorous Fiction, Family Life Fiction, Urban Romance

Until next time, Adieu and Happy Reading!

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Today’ review is long overdue – about Jen Sincero’s first book of the “You are a Badass” series.

  • Title – You Are a Badass
  • SubTitle – How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
  • Author – Jen Sincero

A refreshingly honest self-help book that claims to help people who desperately want to improve their lives but do not want to kill themselves doing it! The book has 27 short chapters with anecdotes, easy exercises, and (occasionally swear words) aimed to help you correct your self-sabotaging beliefs and start on the journey to create a life you love!

REVIEW SCORE = 4.0/5

Thoughts on the Book:

Honestly, when I read the blurb, I felt the premise was a bit misleading. Success is never easy – you can leverage some skills/ platforms/ contacts to reduce the work. However, hard work and hustle is still needed! Felt some readers might be unintentionally deceived into thinking life will be a piece of cake!

That said, the book does offer tons of solid advice! I personally have read too many self-help books, so part 1 was boring to me (Yawn!) However, part 3 and 4 were amazing – unbelievably useful!

Thoughts listed in this book that totally resonate with me:

  • Vision boards
  • Try it out! Do not wait for the stars to align.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Don’t treat money as evil.
  • Own your Ugly! [Sounds weird, but if you reflect upon it, it is quite pithy!]
  • Your faith in the Universe must be stronger than your fear of failure.

Like Tim Ferris book “Tools of the Titans” or “Tribe of Mentors” you will want to savor this book. Do not feel compelled to read the book cover to cover. Instead here are some snippets and chapters you MUST read:

  • Decide you would rather be happy than right! (pg125)
  • You will not even remember this in the future. (pg127)
  • When we say we are unqualified; it usually means we are too scared to try it! (pg 151)
  • Procrastination is the most popular form of self-sabotage. (pg152)
  • Love yourself. Repeated ad nauseum throughout the book, but we all need to hear this!  

Another parting thought – some sections in this book sound similar to Rhonda Bryne’s book “The Law of Attraction”, but this one is a lot more practical.

Similar Works

  • Books – “Girl, Wash your Face” by Rachel Hollis, Iris Apfel, Tools of the Titans by Tim Ferris.
  • Movies – Joy. Legally Blonde.
  • Genres – Self-Help, Personal Success, Business, Motivational, Personal Transformation.

Until next time, Adieu & Happy Reading!

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Welcome to Day 08 of the #BookReviewBlogChallenge, and the LAST challenge prompt!

Big shout out to all the participants – I had an amazing time reading all your entries and found some brilliant authors to add to my TBR pile. My eyes are shining up like stars just thinking about the new books I plan to read! Irrespective of who wins, you are all “STARS”.

And this brings me nicely to today’s theme – “STAR”.

Blog Challenge Day 08 entry

My entry is a YA book titled “Next door to a Star”. This is not my normal genre, at least not since my teen years. However, I decided to give it a try since the cover and blurb looked intriguing, and a friend recommended it. I was hoping this would be a good author/book to gift to my nieces and young cousins, but the jury is still out on it!

  • Title – Next Door to a Star
  • Author – Krysten Lindsay Hager.

The story is about a young girl (Hadley) staying with her grandparents for a vacation, where she meets and befriends a teen TV mega-star. Later, Hadley gets to move in with her grandparents and go to the same school where the star attends. Hadley gets caught up in the dramas that follow a shy teenager at a new school, compounded by the glitzy world of being in cahoots with a teen heartthrob. Will Hadley remain calm and sensible, will she get disillusioned or worse mesmerized by superficial lives ephemeral fame?

REVIEW SCORE = 4.0/5

Thoughts on the Book:

First, I must admit the author writes extremely well from a teenager’s perspective. Puberty and teenage can be hard, especially on young girls as they try to balance school, hormones, cliques, and a keen desire to be perceived as “cool” and “popular”. Everything is a “drama” and blown out of proportion! The author fleshes all those emotions quite realistically, and readers will remember their own school years. Or recognize classmates, kids, and nieces/nephews in some or all the characters.

Second, the book is written from an age-appropriate standpoint, no steamy scenes or violence or foul language. If you are a parent or (aunt like me) who wants to vet a book before kids read it, then I do not see any major red flags for this book. The book feels akin to the movie “Mean girls” – you want to roll your eyes at times, but the story is relatable to teens and tweens.

However, as an adult I do have some concerns that the book might send the wrong signal to some kids. Trying to fit in is normal, but how far do you want your kids to take it? Being introverted is not a gate pass to be deferential or act a doormat! I just want to shake Hadley at times, but all parents feel that way, so perhaps the author is correct at portraying things as they truly occur in real life! I did feel I was over-analyzing the book at times. Plus, some of the girls are too silly for words.

For these reasons, I did not go with a rating higher than 4.0. However, if your teen just wants a quick read. If your child or YA relative normally reads classic books, or will not be overly influenced by fictional characters, then you might consider giving this as a change in tastes!

Similar Works

  • Books – “Nancy Drew”, Babysitters club books (series), Sweet Valley High School books (series)
  • Movies – Mean Girls, Bring it On, Ice Princess.
  • TV Series – That’s so Raven (Nickelodeon), Never Have I ever (Netflix).
  • Genres – Teen & Young Adult, Young Adult Contemporary Romance, YA.

Hope you all found this blog challenge as engaging as me!

Until next time, Adieu and happy reading! 🙂

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