Book Review: The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

My Review:

I read this book in 2 days! The storyline kept me guessing about who was behind some nasty emails and if the “third wife”, Maya, had a mental illness or if she was pressured to be jump in front of an oncoming bus.  The storyline focuses more on Adrian, the husband left behind, and his reflection on his marriages and the relationships he has with his children.

While there is some speculation about Maya, the story doesn’t dive too far into the real reasons for her death and what could have prevented it.  Adrian is the primary focus and it’s his interpretation of how quickly his life unraveled, beginning with his first marriage. While the women are rather compliant and work together, for the sake of the children, it isn’t until Maya’s death that Adrian realizes his selfishness and self-centeredness impacted the family much deeper than originally thought.

The storyline moves quick, a little to quick at the end for any true resolution to have happened and the impact of Maya’s death on his children.  It almost seemed as if Adrian wanted to own the issues, as a gift to his children, without giving any justice or voice to Maya.  It’s a book that will certainly create discussion amongst book clubs and also cause one to think about how everything someone does has a direct impact on someone else.  great cupcake rating 4*This book was provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No forms of compensation were given.

 

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My Review:

I love Rainbow Rowell’s writing. I first experienced her writings last year and I haven’t stopped.  I absolutely loved Eleanor and Park and read Landline, which I also enjoyed.  It made perfect sense for me to read Fangirl, too!  Especially since I had already purchased a tote from fellow blogger and Etsy owner, I knew it was time to pull out this book to read!

First of all, I had no idea the amount of fanfiction that is out there!  While I love reading spin-offs of Jane Austen’s work, I had no idea that there is this underground world (so to speak), with writings available on the internet that are not even published!  It’s pretty intense, exciting, and I have a lot of reading…especially because of my infinite love of Twilight!

This story has a bit of fanfiction within it.  Cath(er) is writing her version of a perfect ending of the Simon Snow series.  I blame it on my eyes, but I seriously didn’t know that the cover is of two guys dreamingly looking into each other’s eyes.  Otherwise, I may not have even read the book.  Because I don’t read books with gay romance, I was a little uncomfortable but knew the premise of the story was primarily about Cath and her sister, and how they both adjust to college life.  Honestly, what Cath writes about didn’t come across as a love story between Simon and Baz.  I know Cath feels they are both are in love with one another and that is where she wants to take her story.  However, I saw them more as brothers, who really had no one else to depend on.  I just didn’t feel the romance or magic that oozes between Cath and Levi.

Being a mom of a freshman in college, this novel was a little bit close to home.  Although I am married and have a wonderful husband and children at home, I could completely relate to that feeling of sadness and loss of self that Cath and Wren’s dad experiences.  Granted, he does have other issues, with one being a mental illness-but any college parent can relate to what he experiences when not one, but both children leave for college.

I love the realistic college campus life that Rainbow Rowell describes.  It was also great to see how different Cath and Wren (identical twins) adjust differently to campus life. I loved that it showed how hard it can be to make friends, going to class and dealing with being the “fish”, and trying to balance home and college life.  While both Cath and Wren have their own issues to contend with, in the end, they both realize what is most important is what they had all along: each other.  They will be pulled apart, fight, but in the end, they will come together and tackle some tough issues along the way.

As a mom, I was freaking out about premarital sex, the accessibility to drugs and alcohol, isolation, and making friends.  However, if I look back on when I went to college, I can completely relate and understand the pressures a college student has and the journey to self discovery.  It’s a great novel that I enjoyed reading!

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She Reads Spring Book Review: The Daughter by Jane Shemilt

My Review:

There are books that make for a great book club discussion, or are just a great read.  Then, there are those that are great reads, great book club discussion reads, AND will push your buttons all at once.  This was one of them.

Naomi is a 15 year old, who goes missing, and a nationwide search begins.  With the story alternating between present and past chapters, it keeps will keep the reader guessing what happens.  At the end, both past and present meet, with a shocking ending.  I was even more freaked out when I read the last chapter- that has maybe 3 sentences!  No afterward, no epilogue, not even book club discussion questions that would hint at what the ending implies.  So, this is the kind of the book that you will have to process with someone else that has read the book!

Jenny is a successful doctor, her husband is a surgeon, and they both have one daughter (Naomi) and 2 teenage sons (twins).  The story is told through Jenny’s point of view, so we never know what Naomi was thinking about or what really happened.  It’s more speculation on Jenny’s part and the reader has to guess, too.

With Naomi gone, Jenny reflects on the time leading up to Naomi’s disappearance and her family.  The story raises interesting questions: Can a woman have it all? Can she have a career and a family? Can she be fulfilled in her marriage and still have a successful practice?  Can she balance work and children? Can someone truly separate work from home, and not let the issues bleed into another?  It is so sad that Jenny has to contend with those questions and internal struggles, whereas her husband simply places blame on her for his choices, and one of her sons does, too.

Both of Jenny’s sons and husband have their own issues to contend with, as well as having guilt over what happened to Naomi.  However, it isn’t fully explored because this story is more about Jenny picking up the pieces and looking back at the past to find clues that she may have overlooked.  Jenny realizes she wasn’t as available to her children as she thought, and that everyone has their own secrets that might split the family apart.  Before Naomi’s disappearance, Jenny had this idea of what her family looks like.  It’s only after the disappearance that she realizes there were signs all along, she just chose to not address them at that moment.  We all know that even closets have to get cleaned out, skeletons and all.  Jenny does that, but will it be too late for her family?

Readers will find out if Jenny is able to change the course of direction her family is on and the consequences of some of her decisions (at work and home).  While Naomi does go missing and the story centers around finding her, the story is really about Jenny: a wife, mom, and career woman, whose choices impact those around her.  Naomi missing does highlight the cracks in the foundation of the family, which looks perfect on the outside, but is quite fragmented and detached.   However, there is hope, acceptance, and love that runs much deeper than anything or anyone can try to break apart.

In the end, it is awesome that Jenny sees her family for who they are and lets them know that she sees them, loves them, and is there for them.  It’s a such a great story that is beautiful and heartbreaking.

excellent cupcake 5*Thank you to She Reads and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book, in exchange for an honest review.

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Short Stack Reviews & Book Giveaway!

SHORT STACK REVIEWS

While I haven’t been blogging a much, I have been reading.  Although, not as fast as I would like, I’m still a bibliophile and love to share good reads with you! Don’t forget to click on each book title to read the synopsis and add them to your TBR list!

My Review:

The storyline has a great premise: sisters on different paths come back together for one summer that will surely change their life courses.  The story moves rather quickly in the beginning, so that it was hard to feel a connection or compassion for Paul, who wants a divorce from Iris.  However, the story really focuses on unfinished business with sisters, family, and lost loves.  It’s a simple read, a little predictable, but a good storyline that will keep you engaged.

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swirl

My Review:

This is a book that had been on my TBR list since its release.   When I saw it at the library on audio, I immediately checked it out and downloaded it to my iPhone so that I could listen to on a road trip.  Well, that didn’t turn out well.  You can read why here

I’m really glad that I decided to buy the book and read it on my reader.  First, the audio did skip, so I wasn’t listening to the story in the order of the chapters.  Secondly, there is too much information and the characters are complex that it would have been difficult for me to listen and understand their role within the story.  Thirdly, there were many times I would reread a quote or a page, and that would have been too difficult and not realistic to do with an audio.

This story is magical, complex and has stories within a story, that it is beyond words to actually describe.  The descriptive writings to explain an outfit or a scene were so amazing that I wish this book had been written with colorful illustrations! This novel could have easily been made into a trilogy because there were so many stories within it.  It is a novel that stayed with me for a long time and definitely makes me appreciate the life of a traveling artist much more!

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swirlMy Review:

This is a sequel to Firefly Lane, which I read in January.  You can read my review here.  I really loved the first book and like anyone who loves a great story, I jumped on the chance to read the sequel.  This novel, Fly Away, is really for those readers who want to know about “TullyandKate”.   While the novel did share about what happens to Kate’s family, it really is about Tully and her inability to forgive herself and move on from Kate’s death.  This novel reminded me a little of A Christmas Carol, with Kate being the ghost.  Overall, it was a good book that explores friendships, forgiveness, and second chances.

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*With the exception of The Night Circus, the other books were provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

copyright 2015

Time for a Giveaway!

If you managed to read my mini-reviews, then I think you deserve a free book!

Giveaway

Win a copy of:

The Girl with a Clock Heart by Peter Swanson!

This is going to be an easy giveaway. Simply enter your email in the comments below and let me know if you read any of the books I’ve reviewed. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Giveaway is open until May 28, 2015. 

Open internationally!!

Yes, I’m going to mail these books across the oceans, if you are randomly selected! I know I have quite a few followers outside the US and Canada, so I want to include them, too!

One winner will be randomly chosen and I will contact that winner via email.  The winner will have 48 hours to reply, if not, another winner will be selected.  I don’t announce winners because it takes too much time and energy on my part, however the winner knows and is more than welcome to post their winnings on social media :D

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Review: Little Black Lies by Sandra Block

My Review:

The cover is creepy, isn’t it? I can’t help but think it’s Zoe’s patient, Sophie, lurking in the shadows!!  Zoe is a psychiatrist working on her residency, and is assigned a patient: Sophie, who has been a lifelong patient in psychiatrist hospitals.  As a new transfer, Zoe works at establishing a relationship with her so that she can help Sophie work on her issues (which are a lot!).

It’s a great novel that has a bad romance, murder mystery, and family secrets.  Zoe has an ill-fated love relationship, dealing with the impact her mom’s dementia has on their relationship, flashbacks from a traumatic event, addressing her medical condition (ADHD), and trying to figure out who her biological mom is.  This book has a lot of secrets, which the reader will eventually understand how they all come together and how Zoe handles the news.  Psychology enthusiasts will enjoy the nod to Freud that is sprinkled throughout the novel.    It also showed the vulnerable side to Zoe and how she is just as human as the patients she sees.

Readers will enjoy the fast paced novel and will freak with the “out of nowhere” nail file scene.  Hold on to your seats as Sandra Block takes you into the world of Dr. Zoe Goldman, who has enough baggage and secrets to keep you entertained…add into the mix a mental patient, and you have a whole lot of crazy to keep you fixated to this novel, until the very end!

 

*A copy of the novel was provided by the publisher and NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. No forms of compensation were given.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

My Review:

I first heard about this book from blogger, Cindy at “Utah’s Mom’s Life“.  I had the book on my reader for some time and was waiting for the perfect time to read this little gem.  I have been in a reading funk lately, so I wanted a book that was fantasy in some ways, a book that would take me away from the serious books I had read lately.

While this book is not a “light” read, it is definitely one that is magical, deals with heartache, family, and realizing that dreams do come true…even if they aren’t wrapped up in a way that one perceives.

I loved the rugged and rural setting of the book.  Set in the 1920’s, Jack and Mabel decide to venture to a new land: Alaska.  There, they decide to make their home, away from the daily reminders of the loss of their child and family/friends to remind them of those painful memories.  However, as life always shows, no one can run from their past memories.  Mabel is quite stoic and has an inner strength that helps carry her and Jack through the cold winters and harsh reminders of their aloneness.  However, they soon find they aren’t alone and develop friendships with George and Esther, and become parents to Faina, their snow child.

I love the relationship between Esther and Mabel, how Esther’s resilience and strength helps Mabel and Jack, how George and Esther take care of them and teach them, and the way they all become friends, then family.  The details of their Alaska homesteads were quite descriptive, that it was quite easy to see it in my mind.

There were many times I didn’t know where the story would go or how it would end, and that was okay. I liked not knowing where the author would take her readers.  However, there were many times towards the end of the book that I would think: “awww…that’s a beautiful ending”.  Then, I would turn the page, only to find another chapter.  After awhile, I was ready for it to end.  I felt like one of the animals ensnared in a trap…quick to grab you and slow to let go.  However, that was just the last few chapters.  The first 30 something chapters actually move quite nicely and the characters are all connected in some way.

The ending, or multiple endings (in my opinion) are hard, sad, intense, which is reminder of the harsh times during that era.  Just like the snow is surely guaranteed to appear each year (and with it bring hope), this story also brings hope and shows how you can either stay stuck in your own tragedy or see each new possibility as an opportunity to bring joy.  Overall, a great book!

great cupcake rating 4  *A huge thanks to my bloggey friend, who gifted me this amazing book!

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TLC Book Tours: The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank

 Paperback: 352 pages
 Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 7, 2015)

Hurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long, well into September. Often people’s lives reflect the weather and The Hurricane Sisters is just such a story.

Once again Dorothea Benton Frank takes us deep into the heart of her magical South Carolina Lowcountry on a tumultuous journey filled with longings, disappointments, and, finally, a road toward happiness that is hard earned. There we meet three generations of women buried in secrets. The determined matriarch, Maisie Pringle, at eighty, is a force to be reckoned with because she will have the final word on everything, especially when she’s dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz’s beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, whose dreamy ambitions of her unlikely future keeps them all at odds.

Luckily for Ashley, her wonderful older brother, Ivy, is her fierce champion but he can only do so much from San Francisco where he resides with his partner. And Mary Beth, her dearest friend, tries to have her back but even she can’t talk headstrong Ashley out of a relationship with an ambitious politician who seems slightly too old for her.

Actually, Ashley and Mary Beth have yet to launch themselves into solvency. Their prospects seem bleak. So while they wait for the world to discover them and deliver them from a ramen-based existence, they placate themselves with a hare-brained scheme to make money but one that threatens to land them in huge trouble with the authorities.

So where is Clayton, Liz’s husband? He seems more distracted than usual. Ashley desperately needs her father’s love and attention but what kind of a parent can he be to Ashley with one foot in Manhattan and the other one planted in indiscretion? And Liz, who’s an expert in the field of troubled domestic life, refuses to acknowledge Ashley’s precarious situation. Who’s in charge of this family? The wake-up call is about to arrive.

The Lowcountry has endured its share of war and bloodshed like the rest of the South, but this storm season we watch Maisie, Liz, Ashley, and Mary Beth deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. After a terrible confrontation they are forced to rise to forgiveness, but can they establish a new order for the future of them all?

Frank, with her hallmark scintillating wit and crisp insight, captures how a complex family of disparate characters and their close friends can overcome anything through the power of love and reconciliation. This is the often hilarious, sometimes sobering, but always entertaining story of how these unforgettable women became The Hurricane Sisters.

My Review:

If you know me, then you know I don’t like physical books. They are too heavy for me and I really don’t like lugging them around. So, for me to admit that I carried this book with me everywhere just goes to show how much I enjoyed this one!

Because it is stated in the beginning that different characters will be sharing their point of view, it seemed to flow better for me and I didn’t feel caught off guard.  It’s hard reading from multiple view points because I tend to like one character over another, however it seemed to go well.  Overall, this is more than just about sisters, but a family full of secrets, hurt, judgment, and decisions they have to make-individually and as a family.

This book does have a gay character (Ivy), who is together with this extremely intelligent and apparently good looking Asian (per Ashley’s point of view-Ashley is the sister to Ivy).  However, their romance isn’t the main focus and it isn’t “in your face”.  Rather, it was merely a part of the character and it wasn’t anything that made me uncomfortable. Although, I did feel horrible for him and his “camp” experience.

It was a little odd that everyone called each other by their given names (or nickname), rather than “Grandma”, “Mom”, “Dad” “Sis”, etc.  It’s not very “Southern”, but then again most Southerners don’t hob nob with Senators, either!

Reading the book, I felt like the psychiatrist on Sybil (the movie) and where Sally Field changes characters in one session.  As I’m reading and really getting to know one character, that chapter would end and another character would jump in.  Each character had a story to tell, their own opinion, and like magic…it just works.

In the end, it’s about a family that looks great on the outside, but things happen behind closed doors and they each feel alone with their issues, without realizing they are all struggling with rejection, conformity, family expectations, dreams, and so on.

I enjoyed this book.  It’s funny, tackles some heavy issues but doesn’t weight the book down completely, and it even has one crazy llama…yes, a llama!!

great cupcake rating 4

*A huge thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review.

About Dorothea Benton FrankDorothea Benton Frank

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She is the author of many New York Times bestselling novels, including Lowcountry Summer and Return to Sullivans Island. She resides in the New York area with her husband.

Find her on the web at www.dotfrank.com, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Dorothea’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, April 7th: The Discerning Reader

Wednesday, April 8th: The man thoughts of a reader

Thursday, April 9th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, April 10th: Books and Bindings

Monday, April 13th: Lavish Bookshelf

Tuesday, April 14th: Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, April 15th: Bookshelf Fantasies

Monday, April 20th: Books in the Burbs

Tuesday, April 21st: Bibliotica

Wednesday, April 22nd: Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, April 23rd: A Novel Review

TBD: A Chick Who Reads

 

 

 

 

 

TLC Book Tours Book Review & Giveaway: Dog Crazy by Meg Donahue

• Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 10, 2015)

The USA Today bestselling author of How to Eat a Cupcake and All the Summer Girls returns with an unforgettably poignant and funny tale of love and loss, confronting our fears, and moving on . . . with the help of a poodle, a mutt, and a Basset retriever named Seymour.

As a pet bereavement counselor, Maggie Brennan uses a combination of empathy, insight, and humor to help patients cope with the anguish of losing their beloved four-legged friends. Though she has a gift for guiding others through difficult situations, Maggie has major troubles of her own that threaten the success of her counseling practice and her volunteer work with a dog rescue organization.

Everything changes when a distraught woman shows up at Maggie’s office and claims that her dog has been stolen. Searching the streets of San Francisco for the missing pooch, Maggie finds herself entangled in a mystery that forces her to finally face her biggest fear-and to open her heart to new love.

Packed with deep emotion and charming surprises, Dog Crazy is a bighearted and entertaining story that skillfully captures the bonds of love, the pain of separation, and the power of our dogs to heal us.

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My Review:

HUGE DISCLAIMER:  I did not read this as a therapist, do not recommend therapist’s read this as a therapist, nor for non-therapists to assume that therapists provide therapy this way.

Dog Crazy is a light read that covers some heavy topics: grief, fear, anxiety, and sadness.  However, Meg Donahue writes this story in such a way that makes the issues so laden with heaviness and makes the book just as cozy as those cute dogs, who have personalities that many who are dog lovers will relate with.

A mystery (Maggie helps find a missing dog), adjusting to a new city, dealing with her own loss and family issues, Maggie is a woman many will relate with and find compassion towards.  She is a woman with a huge heart, one that has been broken, and while she ventures into a practice to help others-she finds that there is healing for her, too.

This was a quick read for me, but still had me shed a few tears.  Don’t let the cover fool you- it’s not all warm and fuzzy.  It deals with some heavy topics that people face everyday and will give hope…which always makes for a great ending!!

Overall, I enjoyed the book and am sharing this with one lucky winner!

 

excellent cupcake 5

 

Giveaway Details:

One person will receive a paperback copy of Dog Crazy by Meg Donahue.

To enter, please fill out the comment form.  Information entered on the form is only visible to me and will not be displayed online.  All information is confidential and not shared with anyone.  No P.O. Boxes, please.

Open to the US & Canada

Giveaway ends April 28, 2015

Review: Julie Farley & The New Ever After Series

I was first introduced to author, Julie Farley, being on tour for CLP Blog Tours, back in 2013.  She wrote a trilogy, which I love.  Here are the books and reviews for them:

Click here to read my review.

Click here to read my review.

Because I enjoyed the previous two books, I was quite excited to learn that Julie had written another book! The last book in the trilogy: Another Tomorrow.  This is a book that cannot be read as a standalone and is a compliment to the two previous novels.  The cover, in my opinion, doesn’t adequately represent the storyline.  Although, it is both Heather and Jenny, best friends who have endured a number of situations and life changes.  This book deals primarily with Jenny and her self discovery, after her divorce.  I was uncomfortable reading about the yoga retreat, where there is a lesbian kiss, although it doesn’t define Jenny and doesn’t really impact the rest of the story.  I think that scene could have been excluded, without affecting the overall storyline.  While the story revolves more around Jenny, it is great to still know what is happening with Heather, her new marriage, and her ever growing children.  They were just born in the last book!  I loved the romance that happens for Jenny and the way she finds peace with her ex-husband, learns to be a single mom and venturing into dating, as well as dealing with a serious health issue. Overall, Farley fans will enjoy this book and be glad for the happy ending!

great cupcake rating 4

*This book was provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

copyright 2015

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Short Stack Reviews

SHORT STACK REVIEWS

At the beginning of the year, I was reading so much that I simply didn’t want to stop and write about them. Before I knew it, they had accumulated and I wanted to share them with you here.  I plan to write more “Short Stack Reviews”, where you can gleam what I’ve read, add them to your TBR list (if you see any that you might like), and also to help me keep track of my reading.  Be sure and click on each book picture to read the synopsis!

This is my first DNF, this year.  I don’t typically include books I haven’t read because I certainly am in no position to rate them.  However, I am including this one.  From the first chapter, I was hooked into the storyline.  It was intense, an “edge of your seat” kind of book, that I just couldn’t continue reading.  I had so much anxiety worrying if Mark, the astronaut left behind, was going to die.  I didn’t watch Gravity, the movie with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, because I didn’t want to see him die.  I’m a wimp when it comes to movies and books.  Because I didn’t finish this book, I have no idea if Mark survives, but my heart couldn’t continue.  It is a book for sci-fi fans, those who want a narrative story (as Mark is the only one on Mars…and his potatoes), and for those who love intense books. So, what did I do with this book? I gave it to my son, who loves sci-fi, is fascinated with Mars, and loves an intense storyline.  He also saw Gravity and loved it, so there you go!

*This book was provided by the publisher and Blogging for Books, in exchange for an honest opinion.  No forms of compensation were given.

I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan.  So, when Cyndi from “A Utah Mom’s Life“, suggested this book, I downloaded it.  I loved this book and the adventures Jane (Jane in the book, not The Jane) has in Austenland.  I don’t know if there is such a place, but wouldn’t it be amazing to jump back in time and meet people that are from Pride and Prejudice? Jane has a great sense of humor and does admit the corsets get old, not being able to be alone with a male is stifling, and lack of cellphones can be a bit hard.  However, she has her own adventure, has some love challenges, and finds her happily ever after…or so I hope.  The ending did seem a bit rushed, but it was in perfect Austen form-love always prevails!

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 I must admit, before reading While Beauty Slept, I just didn’t have an appreciation for Princess Aurora.  This book is another twist on  Sleeping Beauty, where Princess Aurora wakes up but doesn’t have her happily ever after.  She isn’t in love with her prince, the kingdom is in disarray, and she learns that all is not as it seems.  This novel is the first to a trilogy, which I am excited about and is a great YA book for those who love stories about fairy tales with twists.  There are definitely some cliffhangers, which I am sure the other 2 novels will address, and can’t wait to read them!  This is definitely a book that different from Elizabeth Blackwell’s book, so don’t compare them because you will be disappointed.  They are vastly different and equally good in their own right.  I enjoyed this book very much!

great cupcake rating 4 *This book was provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest opinion.  No forms of compensation were given.

 

copyright 2015

 

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