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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Welcome to Day 03 of #BookReviewBlogChallenge. Today’s prompt is “Golden Classics”. Any book published before 1995.

I chose Robert Cialdini’s evergreen bestseller “Influence” for today’s prompt. This book was published in 1984 but the evergreen content still holds true after all these decades!

Bestselling authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Tim Ferris suggest that everyone should read at least 3-4 books written 50-100 years ago. These books have stood the test of time, so the wisdom remains immortal across generations! Some other perennial classics are listed in the end of this blogpost.

  • Title – Influence
  • SubTitle – The Psychology of Persuasion
  • Author – Robert B. Cialdini, PhD

REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****

The book outlines six main principles of persuasion that you can use to influence others and be aware, so others do not take undue advantage of you! Must read for anyone looking to accelerate their career or business, not just marketing professionals or sales folks! If you work in product design, social media marketing or want to boost your personal branding, then please pick up a copy today!

The principles listed in this book have a very sound foundation in science and decades of research. But the book is never dry or boring and uses compelling examples to explain the topics. This book was a recommended reading for my organizational behavior and strategy class during my MBA program.

As a female immigrant, I sometimes encounter subtle prejudices and unconscious bias. I have used the principles of this book to great success to counter these effects.

One example of the effectiveness and ageless insights of this book is the principle of social proof. This book was written before the internet ever existed, but today we rely so heavily on social media reviews on Amazon, Google testimonials, Yelp stars and other proof before making even a $20 purchase.

Even Ramit Sethi, New York Times bestselling author of “I will Teach You to be Rich” and coach of Growth Labs also recommends this book as a must-read for anyone starting their business.

Similar Works

  • Books – “Alchemy” by Rory Sutherland, “Made to Stick” by Dan and Chip Heath.
  • Golden Classics – “Art of War” by Sun Tzu, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, “Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • TV Series – Mad Men
  • Genres – Applied Psychology, Social Psychology, Consumer Behavior, Marketing for Small Businesses.

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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Welcome to Day 02 of #BookReviewBlogChallenge. The theme for today’s book is Travel or Vacations.

For today’s prompt I am choosing the book “Thailand” which I received as an early reviewer copy from #NetGalley.

  • Title – Thailand
  • Author – Narisa Chakrabongse

I’ve always been fascinated by Thailand’s natural beauty after seeing Bond island and the gorgeous Phi-phi island which has been featured in movies galore. My sister-in-law and her family visited the country 2 years ago, and had such a great time that this immediately got added to my bucket list.

This book is a blend between a travel guide and a photography book, with breathtaking images from all corners of the country. Think Fodors meets National Geography. Once you read the book, you will fall in love! ‘

REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****

This book is amazing – and anyone reading it will feel compelled to visit the country to experience this beauty. The stunning images and detailed information about culture, important sites and history make it a fabulous read. I love hiking and visiting National Parks, and never knew Thailand had such gorgeous parks! This book just brought Thailand to the top of my travel list, so I can see all these items firsthand.

There is a lot more to Thailand, than just the glitzy streets of Bangkok, and this book catalogs those gorgeous vistas, and getaways. Its hard to pick, but I loved the images of the Buddha statue park, the 300-years-old Sai Ngam and Wat Non Kum temple in the Nakhon province.

For travelers who have never visited this country, this would be fantastic guidebook so they can make the most out of their visit. Others who have visited before, will want to read this to see what they’ve missed and plan a future trip!

So here is the Question of the Day (QOTD) – what is your dream destination? Honest answers please, your favorite travel destination can be completely irrelevant to the book you choose for today! 🙂

Similar Works:

  • Books – “Lonely Planet India” . National Geographic Magazines.
  • TV Series – Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, Lonely Planet documentaries.
  • Genres – Travel, Travel Pictorial Guides, Southeast Asia travel guides

Until next time, happy reading!

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Welcome to Day 01 of #BookReviewBlogChallenge. Today’s prompt is “Dreams & Ambitions”.

Before I begin, thank you to everyone who participated already and commented on the welcome post. So many amazing books, they all made me smile and added a sparkle to my day! Special shout-outs to:

  • Isabella for the stunning book cover for Sarah Maas book, and
  • Camilla for choosing the cheerful Matilda by Quentin Blake

For today’s challenge, I am going with a memoir that really should be made into a movie! 🙂 This book is a perfect muse for the “Dreams & Ambitions” theme, as I would love to be as bold and vivacious as Iris and look back at life (at 60+) with the same joy and wonder, and minimal regrets! 

  • Title – Iris Apfel accidental icon
  • SubTitle – Musings of a Geriatric Starlet
  • Author – Iris Apfel

This book is an autobiography and memoir of the vivacious and brilliant Iris Apfel. The author is an American businesswoman, interior designer, and 98-year old fashion icon! The book is filled with many interesting thoughts and stunning photographs of a life well-lived.

REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****

Thoughts on this Book:

Iris Apfel - day 01 #BookReviewBlogChallenge for prompt Dreams & Ambitions

For those who have never heard of this amazing personality, let me start by saying that the author’s list of accomplishments is more numerous than her birthday candles next year! Some highlights from her life, which most impressed me, are as follows:

  • Pioneer reporter
  • Interior designer and decorator for the White House, for 9 different US Presidents! Whoa!
  • She has her own line of cosmetics with the global brand M.A.C, and she modeled it too! Probably the oldest model to ever do so!
  • Fashion icon – with 1.4M followers on Instagram!
  • Her designs are displayed at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (MOMA), one of the most prestigious temples for anyone in the art and creative industry.
  • She even has a Barbie doll designed after her!

The book itself has infectious joie de vivre and pearls of wisdom you would hear from a loving and extremely “cool” grandmother. Naysayers will point out that she was fortunate to be born into a rich, business family. I will remind them that in the 1940s, US had limited rights for women, so it is still inspiring to see the trailblazing paths the author has tread!

The best takeaways I divined from the book is that Iris Apfel was never scared of failing or looking stupid (something we all suffer from!). Instead of choosing the safe mundane path, she chose to create her own amazing life and leverage all the opportunities life offered to her!

I loved the entire book, but my favorite chapters are:

  • Love and Marriage
  • Your Smartphone is not Your Brain
  • How to Live to be 200

If you like fashion or want an espresso shot of creativity, then read the book! If you like vivid colors or just want to start your day, read this book! If you want to try something new, then read this book!

Just try it once, you will love it for sure!

Similar Works:

  • Books – “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis. “Why Not Me” by Mindy Kaling.
  • TV Series – Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. The heroine in this series is as vibrant as the author.
  • Genres – Memoir, Motivation, fashion design.
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