Fiction Books

Welcome to Day 04 of #BookReviewBlogChallenge. Today’s prompt is “Family”. Any book that reminds you of strong family ties will suffice for today’s challenge.

Let me start with a hat tip to Isabella of “Welcome to She Reads” for choosing the book “The Great Gatsby” for the previous prompt on Golden Classics. All the entries were amazing, which just shows how many authors write evergreen content that lasts for centuries! However, this particular book was by far the oldest one, published way back in 1925! Would like to add that Gatsby has been made into a movie multiple times, the last one in 2013 starring Leonardo di Caprio. The 2013 movie grossed over $353 million worldwide and won two Academy awards, besides being nominated for eight categories.

Today’s prompt

Coming back to today’s prompt – This was a tough choice as there are so many titles and authors to choose from. Finally decided to go with this old Barbara Cartland book I read as a young girl.

  • Title – The Husband Hunters
  • Author – (Dame) Barbara Cartland

The story revolves around 3 sisters who come to London to find a husband and their interaction with each other. Plus, this was a book that we brought home from the local library and my entire family took turns reading it. This includes me, my twin sister, my mom and my grandmother! Yes, we are a family of bibliophiles! Addiction to good books runs in my blood! 😊

Anyway, this book reminds me of the fun times of my happy childhood, so it felt perfect to use it for today’s prompt.

REVIEW SCORE = 4.5/5 *****

Why I love this book

I love Barbara Cartland (BC) books for many reasons. First, have you seen the covers? This was an age before Photoshop and image editors, so the quality of the hand painted illustrations always dazzles me. All BC romances have such brilliant covers.

Second, have you read the biography on the author? She was awarded a knighthood (Dame of England) for her prolific writing skills, she was a writer for the Society (read gossip) column for the biggest newspaper and she was known to throw the most amazing balls and parties. Her sense of style also made her cult icon of her times! I always assumed she used her personal experiences to portray the minute details in the dresses and balls she wrote in her books.

Did you know Dame Cartland is a relation to Princess Diana? Look it up!

Third, the story is always a Victorian historical romance, so it is filled with ballrooms, haute couture, political intrigue (sometimes) and vivid characters. Some readers might find the female characters too weak or submissive, typically not the lead heroine though. However, this was an era where women were treated like chattel, so the logic is contemporary by those standards.

Unlike many historical romances, BC books are “clean” romances. With hindsight, I assume that is why my grandma allowed 10-year old girls to read these books in the first place! 😉 As an adult, I find it remarkable that the author wrote hundreds of books without having to resort to steamy scenes to keep readers engaged!

This book stands out because the sisters arrive at London with an extremely specific image of their potential husbands but who they ultimately choose is not what they expected. The final twist to show the true character of the stern, almost Draconian Duke, their sponsor, is revealed cleverly at the end.

If anyone wants to read a clean romance, or just a lighthearted reading for pure entertainment and good writing, then pick this one or any of the other titles by this author. You will not regret it at all!

Similar Works

  • Books – Any other historical romance by this author (Barbara Cartland). Julia Quinn and Emma Leech are similar.
  • Movies – Pride and Prejudice. Many of BC books have been turned into movies. Notable among them are “Hazard of Hearts” and “A Ghost in Monte Carlo”.
  • Genres – Historical Romance, Clean Romance.

Until next time, Adieu and Happy Reading!

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If you like Agatha Christie books or TV series “Monk” or relish CSI Miami without the gore, then you will love this series!

Sapphire Beach Cozy Mystery Collection Volume 1 (Books 1 to 3)
Sapphire Beach Cozy Mystery Collection
  • Title – Sapphire Beach Cozy Mystery Collection [Volume 1]
  • Author – Angela Ryan
  • Books – 1) Condos & Corpses, (2) Surf, Sand and Skeletons, (3) Piers, Pliers and Problems.

I bought this series bundle during a deal from BargainBooksy. I wanted a change from my normal self help and romance novels. I am huge Agatha Christie fan but haven’t seen many authors write that type of genre in recent times. I enjoy thrillers (Daniel Silva, Robert Ludlum) but sometimes you just need a simple whodunit, without too much gore or ramifications for world chaos!

REVIEW SCORE: 5/5 *****

So glad I found this author. I loved the volume so much that I went ahead and pre-ordered the next few in the series!

The set I read has 3 consecutive books, but all the three can be read as standalone books. Think Nancy Drew or Monk TV series. A few ancillary story threads propagate forward, but you can get the context without having to read the previous books. In this case, the underlying threads are the budding romance between the heroine and a detective, as well as the heroine’s Fair Trade jewelry store.

Personally I loved that the books are set in Florida. Sun, sand and mystery – what else could a girl want on a gloomy day of quarantine! 🙂 Here is an image I took on a vacation to Miami and the Florida Keys, to pique your interest further!

Florida beaches

Overall, I think its a great series for mystery lovers of all ages, young and old!

Similar Works:

  • Books – Any book by Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew, Dick Francis.
  • Movies – Murder on the Orient Express, Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit, Shattered Glass.
  • TV Series – Monk. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Murder, She Wrote. Sherlock Holmes, CSI Miami without the grim violence!
  • Genres – Mystery, Mystery Anthologies, Action & Adventure

Until next time, Adieu & 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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This is the third book in the Cynster sisters trilogy and in my personal opinion, the best of them! It helps (a few scattered references) if you have read the other two, but no way diminishes the reading experience if you are a total newbie to the Cynster family tree.

Like all books by Stephanie Laurens, the heroine is a strong-willed character, smart resourceful and beautiful. In this story, the heroine Angela is only 21, yet thankfully not portrayed as dumb, naive or starry eyed idealist. I myself was stubborn, ambitious and super-focused at 18, so I totally related to the heroine! Cheeky disclaimer, I married a large, dark-haired hunk and knew he was Mr.Right the moment I saw him, so I might be a little biased in my judgement! 😛

  • Title – Capture of the Earl of Glencrae
  • Author – Stephanie Laurens
  • Series – Cynster family series, Cynster sisters trilogy

REVIEW SCORE = 4.5/5 *****

Some reasons why I loved this book:

1] Set in the gorgeous mountains of Scotland (Woohoo!)

2] Hero = Kidnapper! Definitely, not the usual romance plot. When I read the blurb, I had so many Qs – Why? What!!!! that doesn’t sound right? How does the situation change? Is this a case of Stockholm syndrome? Read the book to find out. I will say the author uses these questions to build up the suspense (and chemistry). Most of her stories involve some sort of drama or mystery, but this was the most intriguing among all.

3] The usual charm of Victorian romance – balls, gowns, castles and a villain.

4] The love scenes were tasteful, but she does tend to get repetitive. If you’ve read one, you’ve read them all. Won’t recommend this author to anyone under 16, but I admit I am a bit orthodox in many ways!

Overall, a great read, especially on winter days when you just want to curl up in bed with a steaming mug of hot chocolate and an exciting book.

Similar Works

  • Books – Other books by Stephanie Laurens. Similar authors with historical romance series include Elizabeth Rolls, Emma Leech & Julia Quinn.
  • Movies – Pride & Prejudice.
  • TV Series – The Tudors without the extreme violence
  • Genres – Historical Romance
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