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Fiction Books – Great New Reads

Fiction Books



Photo by British Library on Unsplash

This is my book review of the book ‘Ancient History’ by Sophie Penhaligon. Thanks to NetGalley for the Advanced Review Copy! The link to the NetGalley page for this book is here.
#AncientHistory #NetGalley

Lovely book — felt like a blend of the movie ‘National Book of Treasures’ meets Netflix series ‘Emily in Paris’ with bits of '50 Shades of Grey' thrown in for good measure! 

The story was quite interesting, and fast-paced without going too deep into Egyptian history or technical archaeology. Almost like a Mission Impossible or James Bond movie — exotic backgrounds and locales but nothing overwhelming! 

The only reason I gave it 4-stars is that I felt the book derailed a bit and went too deep into the romance part. I was not expecting that — my fault perhaps! I was slightly disappointed that the hero did most of the action in the last part.

Still, I will give credit to the author for attempting a new genre. This book combines chick-lit, cozy mysteries, and romance genres. Readers from all these genres will like this book!
A perfect companion for a beach stay or vacation!
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Other Than GoodReads or Libraries…

Photo by Doz Gabrial on Unsplash

This post is for all the book lovers and voracious readers who want to read so many books, they run out of money to buy them all! As an indie author myself, I am all for supporting authors by buying books at full price. However, I do like freebies, and having access to free books allows me to stretch my book budgets as much as possible!

Two bloggers recently posted about sites to find FREE books, including the brilliant Niru. Taking a leaf out of their book, and creating a post of my own! Pun not intended – would hate to damage any book! 😉 

#1] NetGalley

I am glad NetGalley did not exist when I was in college, or I might have never graduated! I totally love this site!

The site has strict rules for approvals for each publisher, so you will not receive books unless you maintain a specific completion ratio. This has accidentally coaxed me to find more time to devour books, so I could finish them and send feedback! Some genres and authors are very hard to attain!

All the major publishers are on here and I am delighted to say I scored books that later turned out to be NYT vestsellers like ‘Think Like A Data Scientist’ and ‘In a Holidaze’. I am currently hoping to snag ‘Masters of Scale’ by Reid Hoffman. (#NetGalley, are ye listening??) 

#2] FaceBook MarketPlace

Posts on FB market — image screenshot by author

I have recently become a big fan of the Facebook marketplace. You get so many amazing gently used items at half price or less! A lot of items from my daughter’s nursery were bought and sold on FB marketplace.

With regards to books, just search ‘free books’ and you will find dozens of people getting rid of their books for cheap ($0.25 to $5) for books that normally sell for $20+. Depending on your location, you may see book results with ‘free shipping’ mix up the results, but just continue scrolling past them. I found at least 7 posts for free books within 50 miles of my home. Many posts showed books in mint condition or at least such good condition that they could be resold. [A smart person might snag these books and resell them to make a bit of profit, but it would take a lot of research and trips to the post office.]  

The true ‘Free book’ posts usually ‘sell’ out pretty quickly. So keep looking, it is literally like finding a treasure!

Or you can be creative and offer to pick books for free in your local area! I saw a post in my area where the person picks up books every last Saturday of the month. Just make sure to put a date at least 2–3 weeks in advance, so your post has a chance to be seen! Many folks want to de-clutter but end up giving books away to Goodwill or throwing them in the trash, for lack of an alternative.

#3] Bookstagram giveaways. 

No-brainer if you already use Instagram. 

Essentially a giveaway but happening on Instagram. If you already loiter on the platform, then it is easy peasy — most contest rules are as simple as follow, tag and comment. Look for Instagram accounts that are related to the hashtag #bookstagram. Smaller accounts with fewer followers are easier to win! 

#4] Kindle Free Books

Not to be confused with Kindle Unlimited Program. On the homepage, just filter the book categories you like and sort the books by price. Viola! Free books bubble up to the top. 

step1 — browse the categories you want. Image screenshot by author.

Tedious and manual, if you like multiple categories. And you may have to scroll quite a bit before you see something you like! There are often books that are by new or unknown authors, no reviews, and some just not up to your liking! But hey! They are free, and there is no compulsion to finish a book just because you started it! 

The lists change every week, so no harm in browsing. 

step2 — sort books by price. Image screenshot author

#5] Bonus  — Library Castoffs and more…

The original post by Niru is found here. (Link will take you to Medium.com)

Do you know of any other ideas to get free books? Share the knowledge with the world — or at least tell me via the comments! 🙂 

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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!

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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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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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