ChickLit or Contemporary

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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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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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!

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Amazing book – I could not put it down, but then reminded myself that I did not want to end up needing a tech detox (like the hero) and finished it on day 2 ! 🙂 Hilarious, satirical and absolutely adorable! The author has taken a contemporary topic like tech addiction and brought a very fresh look at surviving in the 21st century without the help of modern tech. The romantic angle is delightful without seeming forced!

Highly recommend!

  • Title – Logging Off
  • Author – Nick Spalding

REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****

This is another ARC thanks to #NetGalley. I requested the book without even realizing that the author was a bestseller. Happy to report that I went in with minimal expectations, but the book proves why Nick Spalding is so popular!

I will certainly be buying his other books to read in the future! 🙂

As a digital native myself, I totally relate to the panicky feeling at the thought of being completely cut off and having to rely on my “rusty brain” and personal judgement to navigate the world. We’ve almost forgotten the simple joys of life – like taking a joyride to nowhere, sitting in silence without a meditation app or taking a walk in the park to delight in the sounds of nature. This book reminded me to try those more often.

The book is set in the UK, but readers from any country will find it appealing. Giving too much importance to online “influencers” without vetting them, over-reliance on online reviews, GPS map, preferring meetups to talking to plain old friends, etc. The author weaves all these topics into a coherent and entertaining chronicle. Yet, there are scenes to show that technology and hyper-connectivity can have positive outcomes. I appreciate that the author does not take sides in demonizing technology or glorifying it!

Similar Works:

  • Books – “Notes from a Big Country” by Bill Bryson. Other books by Nick Spalding – start with “Checking Out” or “Dumped Actually”.
  • Movies – Late Nights.
  • TV Series – Stand up series by Jim Gaffigan or Amit Tandon.
  • Genres – Humor and Satire, Romantic Comedy, British Humor.

Until the next book, Happy Reading!

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Fun read just perfect for a rainy day, a beach vacation or a lazy weekend (me!) I’ve been to Key West islands, where this story is set. Hence, I totally agree that this gorgeous location is the perfect backdrop for a sudden romance! The story was amazing too, presenting a family drama without making it too sordid or glum. The primary characters were believable, and even the secondary plots between the heroine and her siblings were interesting enough (something I don’t often see in romance novels), that I read the book from cover to cover.

  • Title – Island Affair
  • Author – Priscilla Olivers

REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****

This is another ARC thanks to #NetGalley. I requested the book because the cover just called to me, and who doesn’t love an exotic island? Here are some pix from my trip to KeyWest. With such gorgeous vistas, romance is simply humming in the air! 😊

Raw, natural pix – the stunning views in KeyWest.

Beaches, greenery and poetic sunrises! Glad the author mentions all these in her book! 🙂

Again, the story was marvelous, and I like that the author put in topics like food disorders, parental pressure and sibling rivalry in the mix. Some books feel like there are too many subplots, but this book had just the right balance and happy endings for all the loose ends.

Lastly, with all the fears and uncertainty from the corona virus pandemic, honestly, we need more books like this which allow readers to escape from our real-life chaos.

Similar Works:

  • Books – “Head over High Heels” by Lila monroe. “The Stylist takes Manhattan” by Rosie Nixon, “Blitzed” by Alexa Martin. Any Betty Neels book.
  • Movies – Legally blonde, Beautician and the Beast, Nights at Rodanthe, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle.
  • Genres – Contemporary Romance, Multicultural Romance, Beach Reads, Holiday Romance.

Until next time, Happy Reading! 🙂

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