Book Review: The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry

My Review:

Before I started reading this amazing book, I had just watched a documentary on Urban Cowboy, a movie that I absolutely loved!  So, as I read this book, I kept replaying the theme song for Urban Cowboy in my head: Looking for Love by Johnny Lee. While they are very different characters (Bud/Sissy and Hunter/Ella), something about sweet romance just makes me smile!

This book was just spectacular.  I honestly didn’t think I would love it as much as I did, but I fell in love right alongside them and loved everything about this bubble gum, cotton candy, and everything sugary novel.  It’s perfect for those times you just need an escape from your reality, a novel that deals with sadness, anger, denial, but still has you smiling long after you’ve read the last page.  It’s the kind of novel that you will want to re-read the last chapter, just to smile and cheer again.

Was it predictable? A little bit.  Was it unrealistic? Maybe.  Was it sappy? Mostly.  BUT….it’s soooo worth it and to not have any of that would mean losing the magic this book brings.  It gives a new meaning to second chances, falling in love at a later stage in life, and made me wish for a sequel!! Yes, I want to know what happens after the acknowledgements are written, the goodbyes are given, and the lights are turned off.  I want more!  This was definitely an awesome book and after you read it, listen to all those awesome 80’s and 90’s love songs, just to reminisce and wonder….what would have happened had you had a second chance at love???

supreme cupcake rating 6

*This book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley for review consideration.

copyright 2015

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TLC Book Review & Giveaway: The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy

Book Details:

Title: The Mapmaker’s Children
Author: Sarah McCoy
Publisher: Crown
Publication date: May 5, 2015
Pages: 320
Genre: Historical fiction
Synopsis:

When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril.
Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar—the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance.
Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way.

My Review:

From the very first page, I was hooked. I read a little over 100 pages the first night and didn’t sleep until I finished it, on the second night. Yes, it’s that amazing!

The story alternates between past and present, shedding light on Sarah Brown (a young woman during the UGRR movement) and Eden ( a young woman married with some scars of her own).  Eventually, their stories intersect and show how much the past can shape the future, while also bringing closure and peace to the past.

Sarah is the daughter of abolitionist, John Brown, and uses her talent of artistry to help with the UGRR movement.  Eden finds a porcelain head with unusual drawings, a key, and a button that place that doll in the time frame of when Sarah was visiting the Hill family and helping them with those trying to flee the South.  Sarah is a strong woman, who is extremely courageous and intelligent.  She becomes even more vigilant to help the UGRR after her father is caught and hung for his “crimes”.  It was interesting to learn the ways people communicated back then and the code words they had to use to share news.  Time was a factor, too, so that messages had to be changed and revised often.  There were many times that I felt that I couldn’t read fast enough, as I was eager to know what was happening next in Sarah’s life and those of her loved ones.

Eden is a woman, who is married and feels she has reached the end of the road in her marriage.  After her last miscarriage, Eden’s husband gets her a dog, named CricKet.  Worried she won’t bond with the dog, Eden’s husband hires a little girl to take care of the dog.  Cleo is a young, vibrant, spunky, and super charming little girl.  She helps Eden adjust to the new town, helps with the baking of some CricKet BisKits, and teaches her some valuable lessons along the way.

This book is so much more than just another story about slavery and the crusade that the Brown and Hill family fought.  It’s about forgiveness, finding the silver lining, friendships, lost loves, and new beginnings.  Many have heard of John Brown, but not many know about his daughter, Sarah Brown, and the courage she had to continue his work.  John Brown’s death didn’t stop the family and others from pushing forward.  Sarah is strong, courageous, and goes against tradition and expectations for women of that time period.  Through her artistry, she is determined to finish her father’s work and be part of the fabric of change.

Sarah McCoy flawlessly brings these two very separate and individual women together, showing how the past helps the future and how history can help mend relationships, too.  Most importantly, this novel shows two brave women, who are not defined by their pain and struggles, rather, they use it as a catalyst to do something greater and bigger than even they imagine.  While Sarah works at saving her family and friends, Eden’s challenge is learning to trust people to join her inner circle of friends and family, too.

I loved the historical nuggets that Sarah McCoy includes in novel, along with some pictures.  I am so glad she chose to write their story, as these women certainly had a lot to share!  Sarah even shares the recipes to CricKet BisKits, which plays a big part in how everyone comes together and builds relationships with each other.  Those who love historical fiction will love this book! It also makes for a great book club pick because the discussions will be endless!  Overall, this is a book that I didn’t want to end! I know this is a book that will be discussed for many years to come and will be appreciated by those who love a great story about heroines, who were at one time forgotten.

P.S. As a fan of the tv show,” Shark Tank”, I laughed when I read Cleo’s suggestion!  You will just have to read the book to know what I’m talking about.

supreme cupcake rating 6    *This book was provided by TLC Book Tours for review consideration.

SARAH McCOY is the  New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; The Time It Snowed in Puerto Ricoand The Mapmaker’s Children (Crown, May 5, 2015).

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband, an Army physician, and their dog, Gilly, in El Paso, Texas. Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page or via her website, www.sarahmccoy.com.

Sarah McCoy’s Book Tour Schedule:

Tuesday, April 21st: Savvy Verse & Wit

Wednesday, April 22nd: My Book Retreat

Thursday, April 23rd: BookNAround

Monday, April 27th: Man of La Book

Tuesday, April 28th: 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, April 29th: Always With a Book

Thursday, April 30th: Booksie’s Blog

Monday, May 4th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Tuesday, May 5th: Books on the Table

Wednesday, May 6th: West Metro Mommy

Thursday, May 7th: Bibliotica

Friday, May 8th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, May 11th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, May 12th: A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, May 13th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, May 14th: FictionZeal

Friday, May 15th: Bookshelf Fantasies

Monday, May 18th: Kritters Ramblings

Tuesday, May 19th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, May 25th: Diary of an Eccentric

Tuesday, May 26th: Walking With Nora

Wednesday, May 27th: Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, May 28th: Reading Reality

Friday, May 29th: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Monday, June 1st: Doing Dewey

Tuesday, June 2nd: Ms. Nose in a Book

Wednesday, June 3rd: Books in the Burbs

Thursday, June 4th: Drey’s Library

Tuesday, June 9th: The Book Bag

Wednesday, June 10th: Bibliophiliac

Thursday, June 11th: Literary Feline

Friday, June 12th: Broken Teepee

Monday, June 15th: Staircase Wit

Tuesday, June 16th: Kahakai Kitchen

TBD: 2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

TBD: Readers’ Oasis

Giveaway

Fill out the entry form.

One winner will receive a copy of the book.  It’s open to US and Canada.

Giveaway ends June 12, 2015.

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: Big Little Lies by

 

Synopsis:

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:   Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.   New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

My Review:

I read Liane Moriarty’s book, The Husband’s Secret, which I absolutely loved and listed as one of my Best Books of 2013.  I purchased Big Little Lies last year, but only recently was able to read it.  That is the benefit of not having so many scheduled book tours!

It reminded me of a modern time Agatha Christie murder mystery, with the dissection of the events dispersed throughout the book, and different people interjecting what they saw and know.  I love that from the very beginning, the reader knows there is a murder, there is some bullying going on, and there are lots of secrets, however the pieces of the puzzle don’t come together until the very end!

As in Liane’s last book, she is able to seamlessly and flawlessly weave different stories, characters who at times seem to only 1 thing in common, and bring them all back together in the end.  In the beginning of the novel, most of the story revolves around bullying occurring at school.  Oh, how I can relate!  I am the mom of 3 children, one being in kindergarten (age 5), right now!  So, I can understand the dynamics, school structure, peer relationships, and school politics that a parent and child has to experience.  There are also many different kinds of moms: the single mom, the active mom, the rich mom that is very quiet and flawless, the divorced mom, the step-mom, and the list continues.  Each of them have two things in common: they love their child and their child attends the same school.

While there is a huge issue of bullying in the school and trying to figure out what is going on with that, Liane raises a huge issue: do children act out what they have learned or do they act out simply because that’s in their nature?  She also shows how intelligent children are (regardless of age), how in tune they are to what is happening around them, and how they act out what they don’t always understand but feel (rage).

While there is a murder and an investigation, Liane also shows the dynamics between step families, the importance of having good relationships with ex-spouses for the sake of their children, the importance of having a support group, the need for therapy when it’s necessary, and most of all-that not all battered women live in the ghetto and are uneducated and in a dead end relationship.

Domestic violence awareness is such an important topic for me, as I have worked with families impacted by abuse-especially the children who do hide, keep secrets, clean the blood soaked floors, and learn unhealthy ways to be in a relationship.  If there is anything I hope anyone walks away with: aside from this being a brilliantly written book, is that as culture-we need to stand up for those who don’t have a voice, have lost their voice, and/or don’t know what to do.

If you or someone you know is in a violent relationship, please contact the number below.

 

Click on this image for more information!

 

supreme cupcake rating 6

Ultimate Supreme Cupcake Books of 2014

supreme cupcake rating 6What makes a book an Ultimate Supreme Cupcake?

These are books that are cream of the crop! They stand out from all the rest and are books that I simply couldn’t put down, remembered long after the last page was read, and are books that I could re-read.  These books have me research more about a person,  (if it’s based on some historical fact), a place, and even has me explore more books in that particular genre.

I read a little over 70 books this past year, surpassing last year’s book total.  I am quite happy with that, considering some of the personal issues I had to deal with regarding my health, which put me a little behind on my reading schedules.

Throughout the year, I post books with a cupcake rating.  It’s a creative approach to the traditional 1-5 star rating.  However, I also give ratings to books that are not only a 5 star rating, but an all time favorite read of mine.  So, from that list, I chose the books.  This makes it harder for me because I have more books with the Ultimate Supreme Cupcake Rating for 2014, but chose the ones that even stood further above the pack.  This is why it has been so hard to choose!  How do you choose??? It’s like Sophie’s Choice!  Okay, maybe not that drastic, but if you are bibliophile like me, then you understand! It’s not easy.  So, without further delay, below is the list of books I chose to be the Best Books of 2014.

book1I fell in love with this book. I had no idea how much this book would touch me, but it did. I love John Searles’ style of writing.  It is simple, yet deals with complex issues that many of Christian faith will relate with.  Click here for my review.

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One word:  Creepy!  This book had me on the edge of my seat!  This is one of those books where I couldn’t read fast enough to keep up! I found myself holding my breath, as I tried figuring out what was going on! Click here for my review.

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The title of this book is a mouthful.  However, don’t let that fool you.  Inside this clever little book is a story that will keep you reading, wanting more, and shedding a few tears along the way!  Click here for my review.

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I love anything Jane Austen, especially books about her life!  The title alone grabbed my interest and when I read it, I was absolutely intrigued and couldn’t put this book down! Click here for my review.

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I realize everyone is raving about Randy Susan Meyers’ latest book, Accidents of Marriage, but it would be remiss not to include this fantastic book!  It has a storyline that is emotionally charged, will definitely challenge your own belief system about infidelity, and is a book that never fully leaves your mind.  Click here for my review.

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This is the second book that has completely given me a different and better appreciation for a character/storyline I wasn’t much interested in before.  The first was Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin, now this one.  I loved this story so much that I took my daughter to her first ballet to see The Sleeping Beauty.  Yeah, it’s safe to say, I just love this book! Also, it is very different from the movie that came out this summer: Maleficient.  Click here for my review.

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Julie Klassen’s writing is very similar to that of Jane Austen.  I absolutely loved this book and the murder mystery storyline.  I was sad to finish the book because I just loved reading about Abigail and the secrets she uncovers.  This is by far one of the best books Julie has written! Click here for my review.

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This was a huge surprise for me!  I have read about Pablo Picasso and his many conquests, aside from his art, but haven’t read much about Eva Gouel.  Anne Girard is a beautiful storyteller, as she writes this fantastic novel with very little information about Eva.  However, she captures a beautiful relationship between Pablo and Eva, shares the vulnerable side to Picasso and the love that transcends his work.  Click here for my review.

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So, this is a book that I read for review in 2013, but re-read it this year, for personal use.  This is why I posted it as a top pick because I found the book to be so valuable and loved the information about the Amish culture, along with daily prayer and inspiration.  It’s an easy read that make it a nice way to connect with God and have prayer life.  Click here for review.

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In the early part of 2014, I purchased this book online.  I had it on my reader and decided to read it, during some downtime I had between book tours.  Wow.  I was so blown away by this book that I ended up buying other Zelda books, such as the fantastic book, Z is for Zelda, and other books that were about her life and her own book, too. Click here for review.

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Have you ever read a book that reminded you of your teen years and first crushes? This book took me back to my youth and while I didn’t have the same life as Eleanor or Park, Rainbow Rowell beautifully paints this storyline to resonate with a reader of any age.  It is so raw, has so many layers that teens and young adults will identify with, older people (like me) will reflect on, and will have you rooting for them along the way.  I cried, I laughed, and it gave me an absolute love for YA books, again.  I don’t read too many YA books, so when I read one that is magical, it’s a book that everyone needs to read! I didn’t write a review on this one, because of time, but I will post a review on Goodreads.  In the meantime, check out this book, because you will love it!

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I don’t review too many children’s books, but the ones I do, I have been so happy with.  This is one of the books I wanted to include in my list because it is so important to share books with other moms and dads, aunts/uncles, and friends, who are looking for a book that isn’t blasted all over the internet or bookstore.  It’s a special book amongst many great books, and one that really deserves recognition.  I love that the reading is simple, the meaning is huge, and the pictures are fun to look at.  While the illustrations are simple, it still gives little one opportunities to talk and explore what they think is happening on each page.  Click here for my review.

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More Than 1 Book From The Same Author:

It was hard to choose between books, so I had to simply just include the names of these authors.

Ultimate supreme cupcake authors 2014

  Megan Shepherd and Sarah Addison Allen.  I read Megan’s Madman’s Daughter Trilogy and Sarah’s books: Lost Lake and First Frost. I love them all.  I think anyone that likes a Sci-fi/YA book with a female heroine will love Megan Shepherd’s books.  I read Megan’s first book in 2013, and the last 2 books in 2014.  If you read one, you will need to read all 3.  The first book can be a standalone, however the other 2 are definitely books that need to be read in order and back to back.

If you want a little magic in Women’s fiction, then pick up an Allen book. You’ll love her style!  These are easy reads, but deal with issues that aren’t so light.  However, in Sarah’s fun style, she knows when to include humor, splashes of hope and whimsy, and always ends books with you feeling good.  I love her writing!

I hope you have already some of these books and if you haven’t, that you will consider reading them!  I am looking forward to some great 2015 books, a couple that I read in 2014, but won’t write much about until they are published.  Two of them that I loved are: Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner and A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor.

So, which books did you love in 2014? Any on this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Books to Add to Your List for 2015

The best part about book blogging is having an opportunity to preview books before they are published to the general public.  Below are some books I read this year, and know you will equally love them as much as I did!

This is book 2 of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy.  I loved the first book and while the 2nd one is more grotesque and quite violent, I still found myself on the edge of my seat reading this one.  With random and horrible murders happening everywhere, Juliet has an idea as to who is causing the killings.  Just as Juliet leaves the island and her father behind, she realizes her past is always there to haunt her.  It’s an excellent companion to the first book, although you will immediately have to purchase the 3rd book because it leaves you hanging!

great cupcake rating 4

This is a fantastic wrap up to the trilogy.  It’s a bit long, but there are so many loose ends that Megan has to address so that it ends on a high note! I love the trilogy and how much Juliet grows through each novel.  She must choose her destiny: that of her mother, her father, or perhaps, even her own path that isn’t what her parents may want.  She learns about the family secrets, brings closure to the ghosts of her past and finds meaning that goes beyond that of her father.

great cupcake rating 4

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I absolutely loved this book.  I am always fascinated with how flowers have their own knowledge and the emotions they convey.  This is a story that will certainly be a favorite for many!

Tilly becomes an assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls.  It is while she is there that she comes across a diary and reads about Florrie and Rosie. I love the historical facts weaved throughout this story and how the stories merge from past and present, to finally the present.  It’s beautiful and heartbreaking, but as always, this book gives hope.

excellent cupcake 5***************

 I have read almost every book written about the fabulous Coco Chanel and have watched every movie and documentary made about her life.  I am absolutely fascinated with her and truly did not know what to expect with this book.  However, I have read C.W. Gortner’s work and love his writing.  From the first chapter, I am immersed in Coco’s life!  It’s a fantastic story with tidbits in there that aren’t in too many books.  Readers will love this book and finish it, wanting more! This is by far C.W. Gortner’s best work to date and I know this will be a huge favorite for many!

supreme cupcake rating 6

*Each of these books mentioned have very little information about them.  I intentionally chose not to write a huge write-up on them because they aren’t going to be available to the public, until 2015.  However, I needed to put these books on your radar so that you can add them to your wish lists, pre-order, and buy them the minute they hit the bookstores.  The only exception is Megan Shephard’s books, however, I stayed with the same style: simple.

Happy Reading!

Book Review: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

 

Publication Date: December 2014

Publisher:  Bethany House

Pages:  460

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Julie Klassen Is the Top Name in Inspirational regency Romance

Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her–a longtime friend–has fallen for her younger, prettier sister.
When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll’s house left mid-play . . .

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor’s past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family’s financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?

My Review:

This book is so reminiscent to the great writings of Jane Austen!  Abigail is the more mature daughter, helping her father make business decisions and worrying with him about the lifestyle that her mother and younger sister are accustomed to.  Due to some financial ventures gone wrong, the family must move to meager accommodations.  Thankfully, they receive a letter from a family member, allowing the family to move into the house at Pembrooke Park.  However, the house has not been lived in for 18 years and Abigail has agreed to oversee the cleaning, before her family moves in.

Abigail willingly goes to help clean the house, while her younger sister stays behind to prepare for her season.  Sadly, Abigail finds out that the young man she had hoped to one day marry has eyes set on her younger sister.  Brokenhearted, Abigail heads over to the new property, where her own adventures begin.

This book has mystery, charm, secrets, friendships forged with some renewed, and love.  There are so many layers to this book, with the reader not knowing what is happening alongside Abigail.  Who can she trust? Who is the man with the green cloak walking in the middle of the night? What are those noises she keeps hearing at night? Is there a treasure hidden within the home or on the property? Will Abigail find true love?

True to form, Julie Klassen shares Biblical truths sprinkled throughout the book, which was quite relevant to the storyline.  However, those truths can be applied to those today.  I loved the storyline and found myself quite immersed in what was happening.  I didn’t try to guess who had bad intentions and who was really trying to be helpful.  It helped me to just enjoy the story without trying to get ahead of myself.  Every mystery will be solved (or at least addressed), so sit back and just enjoy the way the story unfolds.  It’s definitely one of my favorite books from Julie Klassen, with The Apothecary’s Daughter being my absolute favorite!

This book won’t be available in print until December 2, 2015.   However, it is available in e-format today! This is the perfect read during the Thanksgiving break.  After all, wouldn’t you rather curl up with a great book instead of being pounced on during Black Friday?

supreme cupcake rating 6

*A huge thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.  No forms of compensation were given.

Want to win the book, plus a couple of other great historical fiction stories?  Author, Julie Klassen and a couple of other authors are hosting a giveaway!  Click here for details.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: If You Give a Mouse An Iphone by Ann Droyd

 

 

Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 21st 2014 by Blue Rider Press
About the Author:
ANN DROYD is the author of Goodnight iPad, and is also the pseudonym for David Milgrim, an IRA/CBC Children’s Choice winner who has written and illustrated more than twenty-five picture books for young readers, as well as Siri & Me. Milgrim, who studied graphic design at Parsons, lives with his family in Massachusetts.
Follow this Author:
My Review:
I love the illustrations in this book!  Each page is colorful, tells the story, and kept my daughter entertained the whole time.  I love the message in the book and know this is a book that any child would love, find humorous, and perhaps see that there is more to life than just what is on the smartphone.  This is a story that will entertain, definitely relates to this generation of children (and adults), and will be a favorite for years to come!!  It’s a book that would make a great gift, and is something that anyone can relate to!
supreme cupcake rating 6
*This book was provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.  No forms of compensation were given.

My Love for Zelda & The Authors Who Have Kept Her Alive!

Picture courtesy of: Southern Literary Trail.

 

I am, as usual, late to the party.  However, I always make it; albeit fashionably late. Being an avid reader of historical fiction, and loving the great works of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, I had read about Zelda and the tumultuous relationship between her and Scott.  However, it wasn’t until I read, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain that my interest truly peaked. While Paula McLain’s book is primarily about Hadley and her love: Ernest Hemingway, there was just enough of a snipped of Zelda and her husband, that I was instantly intrigued to learn more.

It seems that in recent years authors are looking beyond the writer, and wanting to look at their most intimate relationship: the women who stood by these amazing authors.  So, I was quite excited to see that 2 books, which peaked my interest came out around the same time.  While I was looking through my blog, I noticed that I had not written my book reviews for these two amazing books!  While both books are about Zelda Fitzgerald, make no mistake about it….they are vastly different, and exception in their own right.  So, don’t choose between the two.  Buy them both!

 

Click on the cover to read synopsis.

 

My Review:

One word:  Co-dependent.  Yes, as much as Zelda and Scott are crazy in love, they are even more crazy with out one another.  They need each other, thrive off one another, and seem to feed off one another the more “crazy” one is.  The story starts with Zelda as a teenager, a vibrant 17 year old, who has many suitors at her feet.  However, she zones in one handsome solider: F. Scott Fitzgerald, who also only has eyes for her.  It’s rather sweet to read about their courtship, leading up to marriage, and readers can’t help but root for them.

While we all know the ending, it’s what happens in between that makes the story worthwhile.  Theresa Ann Fowler, is a great storyteller, who gives readers a glimpse into the world of the Fitzgerald’s.  Zelda is given a voice, that goes beyond just being “crazy, neurotic, unstable”.  She is clear headed, strong willed, and sets trends despite her desire to do so.  She is simply herself, and that is what makes us all fall in love with her.

Zelda, never meant to be in Scott’s shadow, follows her own dreams of writing, dancing, and making being who she wants to be, all while being with an erratic husband, dealing with the media and what they chose to portray her as, and trying to be the kind of mother she desires, all while also having a mental illness (that wasn’t diagnosed until later in her life).

This is an excellent book that follows Zelda from her courtship through the Jazz age.  It ends with you wanting more Zelda! It’s an excellent book, that is a must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction, wants to know who the woman is behind F. Scott Fitzgerald, and just loves a great love story (with a little bit of crazy).

supreme cupcake rating 6

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Click on the cover to read synopsis.

My Review:

While both books are independent and can be read in any order, it just made sense for me to read them in the order I have written the reviews.  I loved reading Erika Robuck’s book.  She leaves no stone unturned, and explores her mental illness and the way Zelda navigates through it, while being a wife and mother.  Told through the viewpoint of Zelda’s nurse, Ann, readers get an intimate glimpse into the struggles Zelda faces and how she tries to make sense of it all.

While in the hospital, Zelda writes a memoir that she lets Ann be privy to.  In those journals, Zelda shares the highlights and downfalls of her relationship with Scott, her life before and during her marriage, and how explosive it all was.  Ann also gives readers a glimpse into the relationship between Zelda and her daughter, Scotty, and how Zelda’s erratic behavior impacted her relationship as  mom and wife.  Scott needs his muse, Zelda, and to the demise of Zelda, often brings her home.  However, Ann is never far away and is the calming, strong force that helps them both through that tough period.

As a family therapist, I was absolutely intrigued to read about the way mental health was addressed, the therapies given in the psychiatric hospital, and they way Zelda flourished/caved in, different points of her treatment.  This is a book that will stay with readers for a long time, and is as heartbreaking and courageous as Zelda, herself.  I loved the balance between Ann’s story and Zelda’s and the look inside a psychiatric hospital, while also giving readers much to appreciate and adore in the person Zelda was.

After I finished this book, I downloaded most of the books about Zelda, which I hope to read at one point.   Truthfully, before these books came out: Z is for Zelda and Call Me Zelda, I had no idea how dynamic Zelda was.  She is an intriguing woman, who was more than just F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, she was a trendsetter, a fashionista, an artist, a mother, daughter, and simply a brilliant woman!  This is an excellent read and anyone who loves anything to do with “The Jazz Age”, F. Scott Fitzgerald, curious about mental illness and the impact it has on families, and Zelda Fitzgerald, will easily want to add this book to their bookshelf.

supreme cupcake rating 6

HFVBT Book Tour Review: Madame Picasso by Anne Girard

My Review:

This is by far the best Historical fiction novel I have read this year! Anne Girard is a masterful storyteller, weaving in a beautiful storyline where there are blanks in history about the relationship between Eva Gouel and Pablo Picasso.  We all know who Pablo Picasso is, his many relationships with women (who often became his muse), and the incredible artwork he created.  However, not much is known about the one woman who helped shaped his career, taught him love and forgiveness, and who he never painted a complete portrait of.  Even that portrait was never shown to the public, until after his death, which was found amongst many of his own personal belongings.

In the early 1900’s, Picasso was working his way up the ladder to become one of the world’s best artists.  However, during that time, he was really just starting out and with a few a paintings and a huge dream, he sets off to Paris.  Eva is a young girl, pushed by her parents to marry the fellow neighbor.  Determined to have a better life and make something of herself, she also sets off to Paris.  Eva starts out as a seamstress at the famous Moulin Rouge, where anyone that is important, will show up to see the performances.  It is there that Eva meets Picasso.

Through a test of their relationship and devotion, both Eva and Picasso set out to create their “Eden”.  Anne Girard introduces us to other fantastic artists and poets, who all seem to conjugate at Gertrude Steins home for exquisite parties.  It the place to be for artists to talk, debate, and reignite fires for their works.  While Eva wasn’t the first Madame Picasso, nor the last, she certainly is the one who left the biggest imprint on his life and art.

For the first half of the book, readers will catch a glimpse of their own personal challenges, the start of their relationship, and how they soon become partners, in every way.  The second half of the book goes very fast.  I kept sensing this impending doom, almost like a Romeo and Juliet sequence of sorts, and I kept finding myself holding my breath! I stayed up well past 3 am, because I had to know the fate of their relationship, and wept at the end of the book.  Then, like any other historical fiction fan, I googled Eva Gouel and was shocked to see that so little is known about her, which makes Anne Girard even that much more of a genius and incredible writer!

This is a phenomenal book, one that history buffs will devour in a day or two.  It’s a book that will stay with you for days afterward, and deserves the attention and merit that books like, Call Me Zelda, Z is for Zelda, and The Paris Wife received.  My only request is that someone now write a book about Gertrude Stein and her beloved partner, Alice!

If you have time, I highly recommend you visit Anne’s page.  She has an excerpt of the book, some background information on an interview she did with a friend of Pablo’s, and other interesting information! This is such an incredible book, that I even bought my own copy!

supreme cupcake rating 6

*This book was provided by the author and HFVBT for review, in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author03_Anne Girard

Anne Girard was born with writing in her blood. The daughter of a hard-driving Chicago newsman, she has always had the same passion for storytelling that fueled his lifelong career. She hand-wrote her first novel (admittedly, not a very good one) at the age of fourteen, and never stopped imagining characters and their stories. Writing only ever took a backseat to her love of reading.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature from UCLA and a Master’s degree in psychology from Pepperdine University, a chance meeting with the acclaimed author, Irving Stone, sharply focused her ambition onto telling great stories from history with detailed research. “Live where your characters lived, see the things they saw,” he said, “only then can you truly bring them to life for your readers.” Anne took that advice to heart. After Stone’s encouragement twenty years ago, she sold her first novel. When she is not traveling the world researching her stories, Anne and her family make their home in Southern California. When she is not traveling or writing, she is reading fiction.

Anne also writes historical fiction under the name Diane Haeger. For more information, visit www.dianehaeger.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Madame Picasso Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 25
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, August 26
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, August 27
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, August 28
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Review & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook

Friday, August 29
Review at Scandalous Women
Review at Curling Up by the Fire

Monday, September 1
Review at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, September 2
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, September 3
Spotlight at Gobs and Gobs of Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Thursday, September 4
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Friday, September 5
Review at To Read or Not to Read

Monday, September 8
Review at Book of Secrets
Review & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, September 9
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, September 11
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Friday, September 12
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter

Monday, September 15
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Tuesday, September 16
Review at She is Too Fond of Books

Wednesday, September 17
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, September 18
Review at One Book of a Time

Friday, September 19
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Monday, September 22
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, September 23
Review at Books in the Burbs
Review at The Librarian Fatale

Wednesday, September 24
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Thursday, September 25
Review at Kincavel Korner

Friday, September 26
Interview at Kincavel Korner