Fiction Books

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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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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