Reading List

Timeframe:

  • Contest Duration: Apr 15th to May 18th. Sign up here before April 25th.
  • Results: May 25th at 7 pm EST.

Benefits to Participants:

  • Read more books and review them.
  • Mingle with other book bloggers and book lovers.
  • Earn backlinks to your review site or personal blog.

Prizes:

  • Winner – $50 Amazon e-Gift card & Digital certificate.
  • Runner up – $20 Amazon e-Gift card & Digital certificate.
  • Honorary Mentions – Digital Certificate.

Rules:

  • STEP 1: Sign up here before April 25th midnight EST. (Eastern Standard Time) Allowing few days after the challenge officially starts.
  • STEP 2: Comment on the Welcome post (to be added on April 15th) with your blog link page, also before April 25th midnight EST. A dedicated post saying you are participating in the challenge will be nice, but not mandatory!
  • STEP 3:
    • There will be 8 “themes” or “prompts” posts during the challenge, excluding the welcome log. These will be posted every Wednesday and Saturday at 7 am EST (Eastern Standard Time). In response, please review a book which fits the theme. For example, if the prompt is “flowers” then the cover must include flowers. Or author name or protagonist name must be the name of a flower. Books on gardening or horticulture will also suffice, but since such relations are not always directly obvious, please mention why you chose the book in the review.
    • Each book review must be at least 100 words long, include an image of the book, our website link as well as the challenge tag #BookReviewBlogChallenge.
    • Post the book review on your blog with a link to our blog prompt, so we can match your posts and award points correctly. Post back your blog url as a comment to the under the appropriate day’s post on this site.
    • Do NOT post your full review here on this blog – we only want the blog post link.
    • Each book review must feature an image of the book. You are free to use your imagination to edit the cover image as you like. (This is for all the creative bookstagrammers I know! )
    • Book reviews must be posted on at least 3 consecutive days before the final deadline, May 18th midnight. This is to ensure you are not churning out all the responses on the last day!
  • STEP 4: All book review posts MUST be posted before May 18th at 10 pm EST. However, there must be responses on at least 3 distinct days to qualify for the prizes. So you can comment once on May 16th and once on 17th and all the other posts on 18th, to qualify for the challenge prize.

Evaluation Rubric:

  • 30 points: [One time only] Sign up and welcome log before April 25th.
  • 10 points: [Per post] Comment on each book prompt with the link to your response post. Total possible points = 80.
  • 50 points: [One time only] Bonus points to anyone who completes all the blog prompts.
  • 05 points: [Per post] If you add your blog link on this site within 2 days of the prompt being posted. This means if you can respond by Friday midnight for Wednesday prompts and respond by Monday midnight for the Saturday prompts. Total points = 40.
  • 200 points: Maximum possible score.
  • Winner will be the person with the highest score.

Terms & Conditions:

  • Open to book review bloggers worldwide. However, you must be willing to share your email address so we can send the e-card. Winners will be asked to share a short bio and pic after results are announced.
  • The book can be physical, ebook or audiobook. Magazines are NOT allowed.
  • Both fiction and non-fiction books are allowed. If reviewing a fiction book, please try not to add spoilers! 🙂
  • An individual participant cannot repeat the same book for more than one prompt. However, if another participant has chosen the same book for the current prompt or used the book in an earlier post, then there are no penalties. If you have reviewed the book in an earlier blogpost (unrelated to this challenge), then please create a new post, stating why you chose this book for that day’s prompt and one thing you liked best about the book.
  • You do not need to own your blog domain. Hence blogs on WordPress or other domains are allowed, for example – https://nirupamaprv.wordpress.com/ .
  • Ideally blogs are preferred. However, Instagram, Medium.com and Facebook posts are also allowed, but it must follow the rules in step 3, and links must be to individual review posts, NOT to your profile page. At this time we will not allow Twitter or LinkedIn articles.
  • You are NOT allowed to combine two prompts in the same post, even if you are reviewing separate books.
  • Your blog need not be dedicated only to book reviews, but the responses to this challenge can only be book reviews.
  • All timelines are in Eastern Standard Time.
  • The owners of this site have the final judgement on all decisions about the winning entries.
  • Once results are announced, all winners have 3 days to respond to claim their reward, i.e. until May 28th 10 pm EST. Delayed responses will result in forfeiture of the prize and a new winner will be chosen.
  • In case of ties, additional points will be awarded on participants who commented first on this blog, not when the book review was published on the home site.

Happy Blogging!

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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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An excellent book that teaches you about how to promote yourself, your product or your business in a noisy world, without spending millions. The author calls herself “anti PR” and handholds you through the entire process, complete with checklists and templates. I received this book as a professional reader on the site NetGalley .

REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****

Truth be told, the book includes a lot of exercises and templates (FREE) that entrepreneurs (or readers) will need to complete. But if you don’t want to spend large amounts of money, you must spend time. Also, even if you do have money to outsource your marketing or PR, chances are that most paid “experts” will make you answer the same type of Qs and exercises. So, do yourself a favor, and read this book! ?

The entire book can be read in a day, but the action items will take a lot more time to complete. Worth every minute spent if you are a solopreneur or small business owner trying to build a buzz around your products or increase sales. Please do go through the steps in sequence – it works and will help you exponentially improve your odds of success.

In a way, I really wish I had found this book years earlier during my stint as a freelancer, and initial days as a blogger. Many of the methods listed in the book are techniques I gathered after multiple rounds of trial and error, and devouring dozens of books. Luckily, I also had a SCORE mentor who took one look at my clueless face and asked me if I was running a business or a hobby. Then he proceeded to make me go through a list of Qs and action items, comparable to those listed in this book. This book, however, is far more detailed and covers a lot more of digital marketing, social media and tons of FREE resources.

Who will benefit from reading this book?

  • Solopreneurs and small business owners who want to increase awareness about their products, increase sales.
  • Bloggers looking to increase website traffic and/or conversions.
  • Individuals who want to establish themselves as an authority in their niche, and all the happy perks of being a subject matter expert like paid speaking gigs, job promotions, articles in prestigious magazines, etc.
  • Freelancers who want to land more clients, or higher paying clients.
  • Debut authors who want to launch their book as a smashing success, or self-published authors who want to boost lagging sales.
  • Newbies to the PR world.
  • Any business with a tiny (read non-existent) marketing/PR budget.  

In short, almost every person will benefit from reading this book! 100% thumbs up!

Similar Works

  • Books – Alchemy by David Sutherland. The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Scott. Influence by Robert Cialdini. Contagious by Jonas Benger.
  • Movies – The Candidate
  • TV Series – Mad Men
  • Genres – Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Small Business Marketing, Advertising, Business & Finance, Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Women & Business.

Happy Reading and Promoting Yourself!

#HypeYourself #NetGalley

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Here is an updated list of the books I have read in this year to complete the challenge. Sadly I did cave in and buy more books and also borrowed some new books that were displayed in my library.

Some of these belong to my reading list from March women authors, and also from my Marie Kondo-style Clear the clutter GoodReads challenge.

Books, books, books!

Completed:

a. From March Women Authors:

  1. Presence, by Amy Cuddy.
  2. Women Still Don’t Get the Corner Office. Author Lois Frankel.
  3. Squeezed by Alyssa Quart
  4. America for Beginners. Author = Leah Franqui. (Fiction)
  5. Head over Heels, Lila Monroe. (Fiction)
  6. Husband Material. Author = Emily Belden. (Fiction)
  7. You are a BadAss, by Jen Sincero.
  8. To Winter at Wildsyde, by Emma Leech. (Fiction)
  9. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Women and Leadership. Harvard Business Review.
  10. Secrets of Six-Figure Women. Barbara Stanny. Non-fiction business.
  11. The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae. Stephanie Laurens.
  12. The Marriage Clock: A Novel. Zara Raheem.

b. GoodReads Challenge:

  1. The Black Widow. Daniel Silva. Thriller.
  2. House of Spies. Daniel Silva. Thriller.
  3. The 30-Day Money Cleanse. Ashley Gertsley. Non-fiction business.
  4. Smart Women Love Money. Alice Finn. Non-fiction business.
  5. The Truth About Managing People. Stephen Robbins. Non-fiction business.
  6. End Game. David Baldacci. Thriller.
  7. Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office. Lois Frankel.
  8. Unlocking Potential. Michael Simpson. Self-help.
  9. How to Market a Book. Joanna Penn.
  10. Tools of the Titans. Tim Ferris. Self-Help.
  11. Stylist Takes Manhattan. Rosie Nixon. Romance.
  12. To Dare A Duke. Emma Leech. Romance.
march reading list
march reading list

Currently Reading:

  1. You Woke up Worthy. Britny West. Health & Living.
  2. You Can Heal Your Life. (Gift Edition) Louise Hay. Health & Living.
  3. Why Not Me? Mindy Kaling. Memoir/Self-Help.
  4. Achtung Baby. Sara Zaske. Health & Living.
  5. Creating Personal Presence. Diana Booher. Non-fiction business.
  6. The Education of an Idealist. Samantha Power. Memoir.
  7. Iris Apfel: Accidental icon. Iris Apfel. Memoir.
  8. Creating Personal Presence. Diana Booher. Non-fiction business.
  9. 365 Days of Facebook. Author = Nirupama. (Fiction)
  10. Mirror Work, Louisa Hay. Health & Living.
  11. Blitzed, Alexa Martin. (Fiction)

So happy to have completed 25 books in this first quarter, and about 10 books in limbo.

Happy Reading!

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Be Career Smart – not just “nice”

Title – Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office
Author – Lois Frankel

Happy International Women’s Day!

Women have achieved so much in the last 50 years in terms of breaking the glass ceiling, conquering water and space, but we still have a long way to go. And if there is one book, I could recommend to all my young friends, nieces and any female I care about – this would be it! This brilliant book is packed with more than 150 mistakes women make at work and the practical ways to stop doing the things that really hold them back.

This book is something every woman should read, whether you are fresh out of college, or already in a high-ranking successful career. There are so many pearls of wisdom, it is amazing. For most readers, you will feel convinced that you make every single mistake in the book (or have done in the past!) Do NOT worry, awareness is half the battle, we can only correct what we know!

SCORE: 4.5* out of 5

To be honest, this book easily deserves a 5 on 5. However, I disagree quite a lot with the “How You Look” Section. To me some of the advice seems a little outdated, especially if you work in tech roles. However, I totally agree with the author that it is better to err on the side of conservative dressing, at least in the beginning of your career. You can choose to stand out for your dress sense or style after you’ve established your brand beyond question. Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman, mentioned something very similar in one of her townhalls I attended (as an employee), and she is the leader of the largest stock exchange platform and one of the biggest fintech companies in the world.

Aside from this short qualifier, I have nothing but praise for the rest of the book. Indeed, the gist of the book is to play to your feminine strengths, while making you aware of common career mistakes that derail your career in subtle but concrete ways. I’ve made many of these and sadly seen many wonderful women get stalled in their careers for the same reasons, while other (men) overtake them to extraordinary heights. Women often never reach their full potential due to what I like to call “Death by a thousand cuts” – small mistakes here and there. Just one or two won’t hurt you, but like compound interest, over a period of 10 years, they make a huge and NEGATIVE difference.

I have the audiobook version, and honestly the author’s narration sounds like a conversation with my favorite aunt or a strong and honest mentor. I’ve read the paperback version but loved the audio format much more for this very reason. Plus, its easy to listen to audio at 2X speeds and while I am doing manual chores like cleaning, traveling or just for a quick 2-minute dose of inspiration and pointers before an important presentation!

Nice AND successful! Avoid tactics that subtly sabotage your career.

Some Takeaways (mistakes) that Resonated with me personally:

  • #1 – Pretending It Isn’t a Game. #2 – Assuming the Rules are the same for Everyone.
  • #3 – Pinching Company Pennies. I stopped doing this very recently, and no one cared or asked why! Not even the finance department!
  • #24 – Polling Before a Decision. I do this a lot, so I sometimes must bite my tongue and assume silence is a sign of no objections.
  • #33 – Denying the importance of Money. Job satisfaction is important but earning top $ is a sure-shot way of skyrocketing motivation!
  • #44 – Making Miracles.
  • #56 – Ignoring the Importance of Network Relationships. Similarly, #17 – unwilling to capitalize on relationships.
  • #66 – Waiting to be Noticed.
  • #77 – Couching statements as Questions.
  • #85 – Using Qualifiers
  • #120 – Tolerating Inappropriate Behavior. On the same vein, is #15 – Protecting Jerks.

Overall, must read. If you mentor women or girls, or want to give a graduation gift for a female in your circle, then this book will be perfect!

Similar Works:

Books – Lean In, By Sheryl Sandberg. How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job; by Sally Helgesen. Girl, Stop Apologizing; by Rachel Hollis. Secrets of Six Figure Women, by Barbara Stanny. Own it, by Sallie Krawcheck.

Movies – Late Night (2019), Joy (2015), The Associate (1996).  

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