Fiction Books

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!

Read more

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!

Read more

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! 🙂

Read more

Delighted to add my review of the latest book in the “Girls Who Dare” series by Emma Leech. I have read 7 books in this series, including this one. I am amazed that the author churns out such compelling stories one after the other, with remarkable consistency.

This book was a pre-order copy, and I literally woke up early that morning (5 am) just to read this! Yes, the series is simply mesmerizing!

  • Title – To Bed the Baron. [Book 9]
  • Series – Girls Who Dare
  • Author – Emma V Leech

Jemima’s story was refreshingly different from the rest since she has just accepted an assignment to join the demimonde. Will she find love like the rest of the gals in the Peculiar Girls Book Club? Will she ever be able to return to polite high society? That is the crux of the story?

REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****

What I love about the Book

Like all the other stories in this series, this one is also set in Victorian England. Penniless, orphaned and near-starvation, Jemima does not have any choices and does not want to be a burden on her rich friends. Who is this mysterious protector?

Apart from this quirky storyline, this book was extra special because the author has portrayed human emotions and conflicts so beautifully. Jemima and Solomon are the main characters in the book, but a lot of the supporting characters were fleshed out so well. In a way, this book reminded me of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple mysteries or Harley Quin. Few other authors are able to bring out real human psychology with such keen acuity.

Jemima – conflicted at having to step down into the dark fringes of noble society but realizing she has run out of options.

Violet, the companion. Terribly practical, her blunt advice is something you would hear from a wise grandmother, experienced in the ways of the world. Life, then and now, is cruel and unfair, specially tom women. Sometimes we must learn to make lemonade if we only have lemons in our fate.

Solomon, an ex-military officer with demons of his own. Very few romance novels explore the emotional trauma, physical pain, and survivor’s guilt that war veterans face.

Helena, surprisingly perceptive about how men react. She knows that Solomon is a good man at heart. But when confronted with an unpleasant truth about being played the fool, his first reaction will be to lash out at the messenger. Men often react irrationally when their pride is attacked and are unable to stop even if they know in their hearts that they are behaving badly.

Matilda, unwilling to trust her own judgement after the debacle with Mr. Burton. Seriously, I have become embroiled in the saga of Montagu-Matilda, aka M&M madness! Confession, I pre-ordered the book despite its July 10th release, fulling knowing my long list of deadlines and a very faint chance that I will get any time to read! Still one lives in hope! 😉

You do not have to read the full series to enjoy any single book. They are all equally fabulous. If anything, I almost want to complain: Emma Leech, why do you write so well?

Similar Works

  • Books – any other historical romance by Emma Leech, Julia Quinn, or Barbara Cartland. If you want an extended list, then look at this list of irresistible Romance authors.
  • Movies – Titanic, Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Kate and Leopold, Pride and Prejudice.
  • Genres – Romance, Historical Romance.

Until next time, Adieu & Happy Reading!

Read more

Welcome to Day 07 of the #BookReviewBlogChallenge. It is amazing how fast time flew and we are almost at the end of the competition! So, the theme “Time” for today’s challenge ties in quite nicely! 😊

Last week’s prompt was any book with 400+ pages and Unidragonfrag won it hands down with her entry of “Worm” – an ebook serial spanning ~7000 pages! Whew! That is longer than the Harry Potter series combined!

365 Days of FB

My entry for today’s theme is “365 Days of F(i)B-Bing” by Nirupama PRV. It is the story of a young techie, Avantika, who dreams of being perceived as cool and successful. To achieve this, she decides to post every day on Facebook, hoping to boost her popularity and create an illusion of fame and acclaim. What happens next is a series of hilarious and interesting twists.

As the fine line between real and virtual blur, her past fabrications close in on Avantika. Can she keep up or lose it all? Do her Facebook frolics triumph or backfire? That is the crux of the story.

  • Title – 365 Days of Fibbing.
  • Author – Nirupama PRV

REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****

Challenge Theme

Time = Days! That is the connection I am using to tie between the theme and this book. Often individual days are slow and boring, but time (years and even a lifetime) often just speeds past!

Some of the individual entries in the book, written as a sort of hybrid diary, may not feel catchy, but the overall book is brilliant! By the time you finish this book, you will be motivated to start writing everyday or posting selfies on Instagram just to test out the theory! 😉

What I Loved about the Book:

First, the author is a phenomenal storyteller! I could see parts of me in Avantika. The way she reacts is exactly how any 22-year-old would! Isn’t that the goal of every fictional book – to make the reader immerse so deep in the book, they forget it is a mythical world?

Even if you have never worked for the software industry, you will still relate to many scenes in the book, like the interactions between Avantika and her friends, the confusions and aspirations every one has from their first job. If you come from a large family and especially if you are of Asian or Mediterranean origin, the scenes between Avantika and her cousins/family/wedding scenes will feel 100% real.

Also, love the cover!

If you like witty writing or standup comedy, you will love this book. The book is funny without being a comedy or satire. An excellent read if you just want something to perk yourself up. In many ways, this book reminded me bestselling author Nick Spalding, who wrote hits like “Logging off” and “Dumped Actually”. Or a classier, more confident version of “Bridget Jones Diary”!

One special note, this book is not necessarily from the YA (young adults) genre but can be read by teens as well, since the book does not have any censored topics or steamy scenes. It will probably make an excellent Graduation Day gift. Lord knows, with the chaos of the Covid19 pandemic, the class of 2020 could use something to lift their spirits and take their mind off all the mental stress!

Similar Works

  • Books – “Dumped Actually” by Nick Spalding, “Bridget Jones Diary” by Helen Fielding, “Just a Name” by Becky Monson, “Stylist Takes Manhattan” by Rosie Nixon.
  • Movies – Confessions of a Shopaholic,  
  • TV Series – Never Have I ever.
  • Genres – Women’s Humorous Fiction, Urban, Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Coming of Age Fiction, Women & Relationships Humor, Literary Satire, YA Books

Until next time, Adieu and Happy Reading!

Read more