2015 Book #262: PRETTY BABY by Mary Kubica


Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
ISBN: 9780778317708 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781460382288 (ebook)
ASIN: B00S4ZH70Y (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 28, 2015 
Publisher: MIRA


A chance encounter sparks an unrelenting web of lies in this stunning new psychological thriller from national bestselling author Mary Kubica

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family’s objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow’s past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she’s willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.


What do you do when you see an obviously homeless teenage mother out in harsh weather? If you’re most people, you ignore the mother and the crying infant. If you’re socially conscious and a charitable soul like Heidi Wood, you talk to the girl and offer help by bringing the girl back to your home. 

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica is a fast-paced psychological thriller told in alternating voices of Heidi Wood, her husband Chris, and the teenage mother Willow. The reader gradually learns that Willow has suffered tragedy after tragedy. Her parents die in a car accident when she is eight years old. Her two-year-old sister is adopted and taken out of state. She is initially in a foster home before being sent to live with distant relatives in an ultraconservative and abusive household. Chris is obviously concerned when his wife brings home another “stray,” and his primary concern is for the well-being of his family, especially his twelve-year-old daughter Zoe. Chris is quite sure that Willow is lying about her name and wonders what else she is lying about. Heidi simply wants to help in the only way she knows how and that means bringing Willow home with her after learning she refuses to go to a shelter. She’s concerned about Willow’s welfare, as well as that of Willow’s baby and takes everything she learns from Willow at face value. We also learn that Heidi wanted to have a large family, but a cancer diagnosis forces her to terminate her second pregnancy and suffer through a hysterectomy.

Ms. Kubica is quite adept at creating a story that twists and turns and leaves the reader wondering where the story will end. We know very early in the book that there is an obvious tragic conclusion to Heidi’s action of bringing Willow home, but only learn bit by bit what tragedy has occurred (no, I won’t tell you what happens, you need to read the book). Pretty Baby is filled with drama and tension on plenty of levels: Heidi’s relationship with Chris, Heidi’s relationship with her daughter Zoe, Chris’s reaction to Willow and Ruby (Willow’s baby), Zoe’s reaction to her mom bringing Willow and Ruby into their home, Heidi has baby envy and it becomes quite evident with her behavior toward Ruby, and more. I enjoyed reading Pretty Baby as much as I enjoyed reading The Good Girl. For those of you that enjoy reading thrillers with a surprise ending or are looking for something a little different to read, grab yourself a copy of Pretty Baby.

Watch the book trailer:



Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”





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2015 Book #252: THE WITCH OF BOURBON STREET by Suzanne Palmieri




The Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Palmieri
ISBN: 9781250056191 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781466877733 (ebook)
ASIN: B00OYGJG2O (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 28, 2015 
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin


When Frances Sorrow returns home to the now dilapidated Sorrow Estate to restore her birthright, she finds herself haunted by a 100-year-old mystery only she can unravel

Set amidst the charming chaos of The French Quarter and remote bayous of Tivoli Parish, Louisiana, Suzanne Palmieri’s The Witch of Bourbon Street weaves an unforgettable tale of mystery and magic.

Situated deep in the bayou is the formerly opulent Sorrow Estate. Once home to a magical family, the Sorrows, it now lays in ruins, uninhabited since a series of murders in 1902 shocked the entire community. When Frances Green Sorrow is born, the family is on the brink of obscurity and the last remaining Sorrows cling to the hope that she is the one who will finally resurrect the glory of what once was.

However, Frances has no wish to be the family’s savior. Disillusioned, she marries young, attempting an “ordinary life,” and has a son, Jack. When her marriage fails and she loses custody of her boy, she runs away to live a quiet life on the dilapidated Sorrow Estate, where she practices solitary magic amid ghosts and gardens. But when Jack disappears, she is forced to rejoin the world she left behind and solve the century-old murder that casts a long shadow over Tivoli Parish and its inhabitants in order to find her son.

The Witch of Bourbon Street is a story of love, family, redemption and forgiveness. It’s a story that bridges the nostalgia of time, and brings those that are separated back together again.


The Sorrow family is just that, a family filled with a history of sorrow. Due to a tragedy in 1901, the subsequent generations of Sorrows have had to deal with the idea that their family is cursed. The Sorrow women consist of Frances (Frankie), her mother Claudette, and her grandmother Dida. Claudette suffered a tragic injury causing blindness when she was only four years old. Her lover and father to Frankie drowned in an accident at sea. Frankie has turned her back on the world because she feels guilt over an incident that occurred when she was sixteen years old. Frankie’s son Jack has decided to take it upon himself to bring his parents back together using whatever magic he can work. The Witch of Bourbon Street is a multigenerational story that weaves magic in with love lost, love found, family, and forgiveness.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of in this story. We have Frances “Frankie” Sorrow and her family: Belinda “Dida” Sorrow (grandmother), Old Jim Green (grandfather), Claudette “Claudie” Sorrow (mother), Daniel Amore (ex-husband and father to Jack), Jack Amore (Frankie’s son), Millie Bliss (Jackie’s best friend and surrogate sister), and Sippie Wallace (Frankie’s daughter). The supporting cast includes: Eight Track (Sippie’s adoptive father), Simone (Sippie’s deceased adoptive mother), Junebug (the bartender at Voodoo), and Mr. Craven (historical society worker) . . . and a lot of ghosts. There’s the bar at 13 Bourbon Street in New Orleans that is owned by the Sorrow family, the Voodoo bar in Tivoli Parish that is managed by Millie, the bayou, and the Sorrow family estate. Add in a family history of witchcraft and magic along with the hidden story behind the tragedy of 1901 and you’ve got all the makings for a somewhat convoluted yet intriguing story that spans generations and time.

I found The Witch of Bourbon Street to be a bit confusing at first simply because it was bouncing back and forth in time (1901 and the present) and then bouncing between perspectives. Once I had all of the major characters clear in my head and their relationships to one another it was a bit easier to keep track of everything. The story really began to pick up when Sippie located her biological family and was reunited with them. There’s quite a bit of backstory that has to be dealt with before we get to the action precipitated by Jack’s disappearance. Can Frankie and Danny overcome their differences and build a lasting relationship? Will Frankie, Danny, and Sippie be able to find Jack? What’s the mystery behind the Sorrow family tragedy in 1901? These questions and many more are answered fully when past and present overlap in The Witch of Bourbon Street. This story is perfect for anyone that enjoys reading about love, family, forgiveness, and family drama with hints of magic.

Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via BookSparks PR. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Book Showcase: MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid



Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
ISBN: 9781476776880 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781476776897 (ebook)
ASIN: B00P42X1P0 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: July 7, 2015


From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do comes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.



Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1


It’s a good thing I booked an aisle seat, because I’m the last one on the plane. I knew I’d be late for my flight. I’m late for almost everything. That’s why I booked an aisle seat in the first place. I hate making people get up so that I can squeeze by. This is also why I never go to the bathroom during movies, even though I always have to go to the bathroom during movies.

I walk down the tight aisle, holding my carry-on close to my body, trying not to bump anyone. I hit a man’s elbow and apologize even though he doesn’t seem to notice. When I barely graze a woman’s arm, she shoots daggers at me as if I stabbed her. I open my mouth to say I’m sorry and then think better of it. 

I spot my seat easily; it’s the only open one.

The air is stale. The music is Muzak. The conversations around me are punctuated by the clicks of the overhead compartments being slammed shut. 

I get to my seat and sit down, smiling at the woman next to me. She’s older and round, with short salt-and-pepper hair. I shove my bag in front of me and buckle my seat belt. My tray table’s up. My electronics are off. My seat is in the upright position. When you’re late a lot, you learn how to make up for lost time. 

I look out the window. The baggage handlers are bundled up in extra layers and neon jackets. I’m happy to be headed to a warmer climate. I pick up the in-flight magazine.

Soon I hear the roar of the engine and feel the wheels beneath us start to roll. The woman next to me grips the armrests as we ascend. She looks petrified. 

I’m not scared of flying. I’m scared of sharks, hurricanes, and false imprisonment. I’m scared that I will never do anything of value with my life. But I’m not scared of flying.

Her knuckles are white with tension.

I tuck the magazine back into the pouch. “Not much of a flier?” I ask her. When I’m anxious, talking helps. If talking helps her, it’s the least I can do. 

The woman turns and looks at me as we glide into the air. “‘Fraid not,” she says, says, smiling ruefully. “I don’t leave New York very often. This is my first time flying to Los Angeles.”

“Well, if it makes you feel any better, I fly a fair amount, and I can tell you, with any flight, it’s really only takeoff and landing that are hard. We’ve got about three more minutes of this part and then about five minutes at the end that can be tough. The rest of it . . . you might as well be on a bus. So just eight bad minutes total, and then you’re in California.”

We’re at an incline. It’s steep enough that an errant bottle of water rolls down the aisle. 

“Eight minutes is all?” she asks. I nod. 

“That’s it,” I tell her. “You’re from New York?” 

She nods. “How about you?”

I shrug. “I was living in New York. Now I’m moving back to L.A.”
The plane drops abruptly and then rights itself as we make our way past the clouds. She breathes in deeply. I have to admit, even I feel a little queasy. 

“But I was only in New York for about nine months,” I say. The longer I talk, the less attention she has to focus on the turbulence. “I’ve been moving around a bit lately. I went to school in Boston. Then I moved to D.C., then Portland, Oregon. Then Seattle. Then Austin, Texas. Then New York. The city where dreams come true. Although, you know, not for me. But I did grow up in Los Angeles. So you could say I’m going back to where I came from, but I don’t know that I’d call it home.”

“Where’s your family?” she asks. Her voice is tight. She’s looking forward.

“My family moved to London when I was sixteen. My younger sister, Sarah, got accepted to the Royal Ballet School, and they couldn’t pass that up. I stayed and finished school in L.A.”

“You lived on your own?” It’s working. The distraction.

“I lived with my best friend’s family until I finished high school. And then I left for college.” 

The plane levels out. The captain tells us our altitude. She takes her hands off the armrest and breathes.

“See?” I say to her. “Just like a bus.” 

“Thank you,” she says. 

“Anytime.” 

She looks out the window. I pick up the magazine again. She turns back to me. “Why do you move around so much?” she says. “Isn’t that difficult?” She immediately corrects herself. “Listen to me, the minute I stop hyperventilating, I’m acting like your mother.” 

I laugh with her. “No, no, it’s fine,” I say. I don’t move from place to place on purpose. It’s not a conscious choice to be a nomad. Although I can see that each move is my own decision, predicated on nothing but my ever-growing sense that I don’t belong where I am, fueled by the hope that maybe there is, in fact, a place I do belong, a place just off in the future. “I guess . . . I don’t know,” I say. It’s hard to put into words, especially to someone I barely know. But then I open my mouth, and out it comes. “No place has felt like home.” 

She looks at me and smiles. “I’m sorry,” she says. “That has to be hard.”

I shrug, because it’s an impulse. It’s always my impulse to ignore the bad, to run toward the good. 

But I’m also not feeling great about my own impulses at the moment. I’m not sure they are getting me where I want to go. 

I stop shrugging. 

And then, because I won’t see her again after this flight, I take it one step further. I tell her something I’ve only recently told myself. “Sometimes I worry I’ll never find a place to call home.” 

She puts her hand on mine, ever so briefly. “You will,” she says. “You’re young still. You have plenty of time.”




Meet the author:

Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author, essayist, and TV writer from Acton, Massachusetts. Her debut novel, Forever, Interrupted, has been optioned with Dakota Johnson attached to star. Her second book, After I Do, was called a “must read” by Kirkus. Her most recent novel, Maybe In Another Life has been featured in People, US Weekly, Cosmo, and more.

In addition to her novels, Taylor’s essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, xoJane, and a number of other blogs.

She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and their dog, Rabbit.


Connect with the author:     Website     |     Facebook     |     Twitter




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2015 Book 203: IT’S YOU by Jane Porter



It’s You by Jane Porter
ISBN: 9780425277157 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780698178861 (ebook)
ASIN: B00OQSF63I (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Berkley


In the wake of a tragedy that tore her life down to the foundations, Dr. Alison McAdams has lost her way. So when she’s summoned to Napa to care for her ailing father, she’s not sure she has anything to offer him—or anyone else.

 

What Ali finds in Northern California wine country is a gift—an opportunity to rest, and distance from her painful memories. Most unexpectedly, she finds people who aren’t afraid of her grief or desperate for her to hurry up and move on.

 

As Ali becomes part of her father’s community, makes new friends of her own, and hears the stories of a generation who survived the Second World War, she begins to find hope again. In a quest to discover the truth about another woman’s lost love, she sets off on a journey across oceans and deep into history. And in making sense of that long-ago tragedy, Ali is able to put together the broken pieces of her heart and make new choices that are right for her.



Alison “Ali” McAdams’ world has been turned upside down. Her fiancé and co-worker committed suicide six weeks before their wedding, in their home. A few months later, her mother suffered an aneurysm and died. Ali has been struggling to be normal and continue working with her deceased fiancé’s father in their dental practice in Arizona. Just when she’s floundering with what she wants and needs, she receives a phone call from her father. Her dad is living in a retirement community in Napa, California and has recently suffered a fall, breaking his wrist. Ali quickly makes the decision to take time off from the dental practice and head to California.

Ali isn’t quite sure what she’ll find in California, but she’s desperate to connect with her sole surviving family member. Ali’s Dad isn’t exactly “warm” and one for public displays of affection, but over the course of three weeks they do find some common ground. Amazingly, the one person Ali seems to connect with the most is a ninety-five-year-old woman, Edie. Initially, Ali thinks that Edie is prickly and rude, but the more she talks with Edie the more she realizes that they have a lot in common.

It’s You takes place over the course of just a few weeks, but Ms. Porter has packed a lot into those weeks. The story is told in alternating voices of Edie and Ali, with a portion of Edie’s story taking place in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The reader learns that the love of Edie’s life was a Nazi in public while secretly working with the German Resistance Movement. He was found guilty and died as a result of his involvement in the failed attempt on Hitler’s life. Both Edie and Ali are grieving their losses, but Edie has found a way to move on with her life and enjoy what she can when she can. It’s You is a story of deep loss, grief, self-realization, and ultimately survival. It’s a story filled with sadness as well as hope. If you enjoy reading stories that combine historical elements with a contemporary storyline or just enjoy reading about strong women, then It’s You is one story you’ll want to read.


Read an excerpt from It’s You here.


Disclaimer: I received a print copy of this book for review purposes via BookSparks. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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2015 Book 192: SUMMER SECRETS by Jane Green



Summer Secrets by Jane Green
ISBN: 9781250047342 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 9781466847743 (ebook)
ASIN: B00QQWJ0E8 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press


Jane Green delivers her second blockbuster novel of 2015, a story of one woman struggling to right the wrongs of her past, with even more complications in the present.

June, 1998: At twenty seven, Catherine Coombs, also known as Cat, is struggling. She lives in London, works as a journalist, and parties hard. Her lunchtimes consist of several glasses of wine at the bar downstairs in the office, her evenings much the same, swigging the free booze and eating the free food at a different launch or party every night. When she discovers the identity of the father she never knew she had, it sends her into a spiral. She makes mistakes that cost her the budding friendship of the only women who have ever welcomed her. And nothing is ever the same after that.

June, 2014: Cat has finally come to the end of herself. She no longer drinks. She wants to make amends to those she has hurt. Her quest takes her to Nantucket, to the gorgeous summer community where the women she once called family still live. Despite her sins, will they welcome her again? What Cat doesn’t realize is that these women, her real father’s daughters, have secrets of their own. As the past collides with the present, Cat must confront the darkest things in her own life and uncover the depths of someone’s need for revenge. 



It’s the late 1990s and Catherine “Cat” Coombs is no different from all of the other twenty-somethings, or so she thinks. It’s perfectly normal, in her mind, to spend her afternoons and evenings with lots of liquid libation. It’s perfectly normal to black-out after imbibing a bit much. It’s perfect normal to wake up in bed with your newly discovered half-sister’s boyfriend. Wait . . . what?! This isn’t normal behavior, but Cat talks herself into believing that her drinking binges are well within the range of normal until she wakes up naked with her sister’s boyfriend in bed beside her.

Flash forward sixteen years and Cat has finally become sober. She knows that she’s a recovering alcoholic and that she’ll always be a recovering alcoholic. Rock bottom for her was when her husband, the love of her life, left her and took their daughter with him. Cat knows that she has to take it one day at a time, and she has taken great strides in doing the program, or AA. Her last major hurdle is making amends with her half-sisters across the pond. Is it possible for someone to forgive the unforgivable or is Cat setting simply setting herself up for disaster?

I’m sure the big question you’re asking is did I enjoy reading Summer Secrets? The answer is a resounding YES! I know I’ve said it before, but this book pulled me in from the beginning and I read it in one sitting over one afternoon. Okay, I took a small break to talk to my mother on the phone for a few minutes, but that was the only interruption I allowed (it was my elderly mother people; I couldn’t ignore her phone call). Ms. Green has the amazing ability to create characters and situations that are incredibly realistic and wholly believable. I may not be a recovering alcoholic, but I could empathize with Cat and her problems. I don’t have any sisters and have never slept (drunk or otherwise) with anyone else’s significant other, but I could relate to the horror of the situation. Younger Cat romanticized her life and the situations around her; older Cat may have periodic romantic daydreams but deals with reality, no matter how much it hurts. Summer Secrets is an amazing story about self-discovery, recovery, and forgiveness. This story incorporates personal recovery with family drama, teen drama, family secrets, and much more set in scenic Nantucket, Massachusetts and London, England. I’ve used the term “hopeful-ever-after” about other books and Summer Secrets is just that . . . a story about hope for a better tomorrow while dealing with today. If you haven’t read any books by Ms. Green, then grab a copy of Summer Secrets soon, as this is the perfect story for a lazy summer afternoon. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future, and something tells me I’ll probably be rereading Summer Secrets soon (yes, it was that good!).



Listen to an audiobook excerpt of Summer Secrets here.


Disclaimer: I purchased a digital copy of this book for review purposes. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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2015 Book 175: WORTHY by Catherine Ryan Hyde



Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde
ISBN: 9781477830130 (paperback)
ASIN: B00QQYZYOQ (Kindle edition)
Publication date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing


They might’ve been a family.

Virginia finally had the chance to explore a relationship with Aaron when he asked her on a date. She had been waiting, hoping that the widower and his young son, Buddy, would welcome her into their lives. But a terrible tragedy strikes on the night of their first kiss, crushing their hopes for a future together.

Nineteen years later, Virginia is engaged, though she has not forgotten Aaron or Buddy. When her dog goes missing and it comes to light that her fiancé set him loose, a distraught Virginia breaks off the engagement and is alone once again. A shy young man has found the missing pet, and although he’s bonded with the animal, he answers his conscience and returns the dog. Before long, Virginia and the young man discover a connection from their pasts that will help them let go of painful memories and change their lives forever. 



Buddy was only a baby when his mother died and four years old when his father died in a horrible accident. His maternal grandparents relocated him to Florida to live with them and start a new life. Virginia had fallen in love and was looking forward to life with Aaron and his son. Their relationship had barely progressed from a light flirtation when it tragically ended with Aaron’s death. Catherine Ryan Hyde presents a story that asks what makes any of us worthy of love in her newest book Worthy.

Virginia has struggled to build a new life for herself, but she has never forgotten Aaron and his son. Just when it seems as if her life is looking up, her dog disappears and her fiance is the reason why. As Virginia struggles to pick up the pieces of her life after her broken engagement, she must also struggle with the dilemma of what to do with her dog. Jody Schiller is considered a shy and sensitive young man. He leads a relatively reclusive life in a rural cabin with his grandfather. Jody knows he isn’t quite “normal,” but he deals the best way he knows how. After witnessing a man abandoning a dog in the freezing cold and snow, Jody rescues the dog and finds his first friend. This dog quickly becomes his lifeline in more ways than one when his grandfather dies. But Jody’s lifeline may be clipped when the dog’s owner comes to get her dog back. 

Worthy isn’t just a feel-good story about a man, a woman, and a dog. It is a story about self-worth, a search for happiness, and a search for a sense of family and belonging. Jody and Virginia love and are loved by their jointly-owned dog, and it is that love (along with more tragedy and trauma) that bring them together. I found Worthy to be an extremely fast read. I found the characters to be believable and relatable. If you’re looking for a feel-good, hopeful-ever-after read, then you’ll definitely want to add Worthy to your TBR list. 


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes via BookSparks. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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