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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Hilarious look at everyday life, for a celebrity writer and actor!

  • Title – Why Not Me?
  • Author – Mindy Kaling

Part memoir, part motivational, its easy to see why this book hit the NY Times bestseller list. As a successful woman of color in an industry that glorifies White, male stereotypes, Mindy is certainly a role model to women and minorities everywhere. Unlike other biographies written by celebrities, she does not use a holier-than-thou, preachy tone. Instead, this book is written in a hilarious, honest and tongue-in-cheek manner that is wonderful to read. And it includes pictures to give you a true behind-the-scene look of the writer studio, sets and her makeup routine.       

REVIEW SCORE = 4.5/5 *****

I loved Mindy in “Late Nights” and know her as the writer/actor from “The Office”. However, I’ve never read any of her other books or seen any episodes of her hit series “The Mindy Project”. I took this book on a recommendation from someone I admire, who has heard Mindy’s interviews, and felt she is an amazing role model whose authenticity and sense of comic timing is brilliant.

I found the book at my local library and admit that the book did not disappoint. The book is not really an autobiography, because it does not chronicle the life of Mindy in detail. It’s more a memoir along the lines of Bill Bryson’s books like “Notes from a Big Country”, or any standup comedy monologues (think Bill Griffin or Amit Tandon) where the speaker is presenting a series of random thoughts and incidents in an extremely hilarious way. Yet, there is an underlying pithy truth and the dialogue forces you to look at seemingly mundane items in a completely new perspective.

The book does not self-aggrandize or preach, and even those who hate self-help books will be chuckling in delight. Mindy is hilarious, yet she manages to imbibe pearls of wisdom in each chapter. I loved the chapter countering the myth of the work-life balance and her stance on “hard work – the thing no one wants to talk about”. A handful of celebrities rise to fame with social media, and suddenly there is an unconscious and damaging pressure to become successful without putting any apparent effort! We almost seem to look down on folks who work themselves to the bone and reach the top of their field.

The only reason I did not give this a 5* rating was that the last chapter about advice to young women should have come much earlier! It’s so beautiful, yet the content was almost relegated to the very end. I was almost planning to skip that chapter, but I am so glad I did not. Felt the chapter deserved to be the second or third, or at least closer to the middle than so far back.

Who will benefit from reading this book?

  • Everyone! If you are a woman of color, you can read it for motivation.
  • If you like standup comedy, you will LOVE this book.
  • If you only want to read books for entertainment, the stories are sure to put a goofy smile on your face! ?

Go ahead, read this book! 100% thumbs up!

Similar Works:

  • Books – “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis. “You are a Badass” by “Jen Sincero”.
  • Movies – Late Night, Legally Blonde, Bridget Jones Diary, The Spy Who Dumped Me.
  • TV Series – The Mindy Project, Ugly Betty.
  • Genres – Memoirs, Motivation, Humor, Personal Essays.

Happy Reading!

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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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Beyond indigo – book review

A lawyer-turned-painter with 3 potential love interests. Now that is NOT a plot you come across very often. I found this book at a sale in my library, and of course I caved in. So much for planning to stay away from new books, until I finish my “to-read list”. Still, no regrets as the book was worth the guilt trip! Yes, my library has an amazing set of books! ?

  • Title – Beyond Indigo
  • Author – Preethi Nair

Review Score – 4.5* out of 5*

In a way the book reminded me of the movie “The Associate” starring Whoopi Goldberg. Add the high-brow society and million-dollar world of arts and paintings, stir in some demanding Asian parents and set the story in suburban London. Voila! A fascinating story that you will want to read from cover to cover.

Even if you don’t like art or paintings, most readers will relate to the heroine’s struggles to follow her dreams, even when it doesn’t seem promising at all. Most of us either don’t know how to go about it or repress it to the RIGHT thing and pursue a stable (aka boring) career that pays the bills, and occasionally some leftover change to dabble in our “hobby”. So any “rags-to-riches” story is always gripping where a protagonist follows their dreams and emerges triumphant against all obstacles.

As an Indian immigrant, I absolutely relate to the quirky behavior of the heroine’s parents and the pressure felt by her to “conform” to her family’s idea of acceptable jobs, life partner and other societal standards. I think all immigrant kids grow up with this duality and the author portrays it beautifully without making disparaging or overdoing the inevitable generational/cultural clashes. I love that she shows respect to the heroine’s dad, a public transport bus-driver. Most immigrants (or even refugees) take menial jobs to provide for their families, irrespective of their status back home. Is it any wonder that such folks pin their lost dreams and aspirations on to the next generation, and become almost obsessed with the kids enjoying a RICH and successful (aka materialistic) life?

Philosophy aside, the story is quite creative – the lengths the heroine goes to hide her painter identity is ridiculously funny. Of course, such deceit would not be possible in today’s world of social media (this book was published in 2004), but despite that minor flaw the book is a captivating read. Still some mysteries like “Marhmellow” do exist, so perhaps the flaw is not such a flaw, after all.

Similar Works:

  • Books – Crazy Rich Asians, Stylist Takes Manhattan.
  • Movies – The Associate (1996), Golmaal (1979), Bareilly ki Barfi (2017)
  • Genres – Drama, urban fiction, women’s fiction, contemporary fiction
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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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