Cream of the Crop

Cream of the Crop

4.5 17
by Alice Clayton
     
 

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New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton brings her trademark blend of funny and sexy to this second contemporary romance in the brand-new Hudson Valley series!

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns

Overview

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Alice Clayton brings her trademark blend of funny and sexy to this second contemporary romance in the brand-new Hudson Valley series!

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is...cheese.

Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.

Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it be...love?

Editorial Reviews

in a 4 star review --RT Book Reviews
"Emotionally ripe with bold dialogue, strong characterization, steamy sex scenes and Clayton’s trademark wacky humor, the author builds a delectable, opposites-attract romance that focuses on the art of compromise and letting go of one’s past in order to embrace the future."
in a 4 star review —RT Book Reviews
"Emotionally ripe with bold dialogue, strong characterization, steamy sex scenes and Clayton’s trademark wacky humor, the author builds a delectable, opposites-attract romance that focuses on the art of compromise and letting go of one’s past in order to embrace the future."
Library Journal
★ 07/01/2016
Natalie Grayson is a larger-than-life twentysomething Manhattanite enjoying sex and success in Clayton's newest addition to the "Hudson Valley" series (Nuts). After years of attempting to hide her size and personality, Natalie has vowed as an adult never to be that girl again. She can, and often does, seduce any man she wants to but hits a roadblock with beautiful dairy farmer Oscar Mendoza, relegating their weekly interaction to a brief exchange at the farmers market. When a job opportunity lands her in Oscar's town of Bailey Falls, the two finally give in to burning temptation. Will Natalie switch gears from the New York City fast lane for the quiet country life with her new man, or will past baggage keep them at a distance? A humorous cast of Natalie's supportive family and friends round out this sweet, sexy novel. Clayton's playful writing style blends silliness with apt observations regarding modern life, love, and self-confidence. Plus-size protagonist Natalie embraces her curves with self-assurance, marking a refreshing change from erotica wherein most female leads fit the same mold (and dress size). VERDICT A titillating story with plenty of happy endings. Recommended for fans of Clayton's previous works (the "Cocktail" and "Redhead" series) and readers seeking erotica with lots of heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781501118159
Publisher:
Gallery Books
Publication date:
07/12/2016
Series:
Hudson Valley Series , #2
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
40,511
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Alice Clayton worked in the cosmetics industry for over a decade before picking up a pen (read: laptop). She enjoys gardening but not weeding, baking but not cleaning up, and finally convinced her long-time boyfriend to marry her. And she finally got her Bernese Mountain Dog.

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Cream of the Crop 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I can't wait for the next story! To laugh & cry while I live their story with them.
TracyH13 23 days ago
Alice Clayton is a genius! Her writing, the characters, the dialogue - I love everything about her books. She has made me love farming....okay, maybe just farmers...well, the hot ones anyway. The Hudson Valley series takes on a whole new brand of book BFs - hot farmers! Natalie is a city girl through and through. However, even a true blue city girl can appreciate the hotness of dairy farmer, Oscar, every weekend at the farmer's market. Poor Natalie, usually so cool around hot men, canNOT seem to find her words when it comes to Oscar. Their market banter literally centering around 3 words between the two of them every single week. That is until Natalie's advertising firm lands the Bailey Falls account which takes her out of her city element and into her "under the kitchen cabinet" dream world of a small town. It doesn't take long for Natalie to realize why her BFF has fallen in love with her hometown of Bailey Falls again. And it has alot to do with the hot dairy farmer!
Anonymous 25 days ago
TDB005 5 months ago
First of all, can I just get an amen for a size 18 gal who owns it and loves who she is? This was a breath of fresh air in the best possible way. So often when you have a plus size character, they have insecurities about who they are and things they want to change. That isn't the case for this Manhattan girl. She is sexy and she knows it, and she carries her head held high no matter the situation. So needless to say, this story started out on a huge high note for me and I could only hope to have that level of confidence one day myself. Now as I've come to expect from Alice Clayton, this was an adorable romantic comedy filled with witty humor and the perfect level of romance and steam. My only wish was that we got to know our hero a bit more. We didn't get anything from his perspective until the epilogue, and by that point it was too little too late. Oscar just didn't seem likeable at all. He barely speaks and instead the whole focus is on their physical relationship and glosses over the chances for us to get to know him better, especially where their relationship was concerned. We see his care and concern for his ex, but I felt at the end he belonged with her more than Nat. *shrug* Despite my issues with Oscar, Natalie was the star of this book and she is the reason I loved it so much. It reminded me a bit of Sex and the City, but in a more adorable way. It was so much fun to read, so I can't recommend it highly enough for you guys.
Dalitza 6 months ago
Charmingly fun and irresistibly sexy. A wonderfully written story about finding our inner fabulous with an awesome heroine. In a world where a size zero is in vogue, Natalie Grayson embraces her curves and are one of her secret assets to her charmed life. She has her dream job which she excels at, a loving family, incredible friends, and an endless line of eager eligible bachelors. What more could a successful Manhattanite girl want? Simple, the best brie cheese around and its delicious provider. For the past six months, Natalie has had a Saturday morning routing she’ll no soon break even when it makes her otherwise confident knees go week at the sight of Oscar the cheese maker Mendoza. Every week she goes to the Union Square Farmer’s Market strutting and self-assured. The moment her eyes lock on to the tall and sexy farmer though, she’s reduced to two syllable sentences until her PR firm is called upon to put the small town of Bailey Falls on the map. Will the big city girl fall for the small town charm and the farmer with the deliciously out of this world… cheese? Alice Clayton’s characteristic humor, entertainment and sizzling hot romance is as present as always in this fabulous city girl meets gorgeous farm boy contemporary romance. Turns out gentle sweet dairy cows get startled when someone comes running, and they don't always take too kindly to a shuffle-hop-step. One of them came after me, and although it was likely at a pace of about a mile per hour, it looked very fast in my head... The writing is wonderful. I loved every single description from the fast moving city to the small enchanting town as viewed through Natalie’s eyes. I almost felt like I was standing right next to her all throughout her journey into the scary territory of falling in love with a reticent, silent man that seemed to be a complete opposite to her outgoing, exuberant personality. Natalie is a great heroine. After getting over her teenage and young adult self-esteem and insecurity issues and an abusive relationship, she’s became all about the girl power. She’s a plus sized woman and loving every inch of herself which not only made her likeable, but very much real and relateable. This story is beautiful and inspiring because of her. I loved her wit and sharp tongue as much as her confidence and the endless soundtrack going on in her head which constantly made me laugh! Oscar had enough layers to make him charming in his quiet and shy personality, but I don’t know if it was because the story was told from Natalie’s point of view that made me feel like I didn’t get to know him all that much which in turn made it difficult for me to connect with the romance and emotional bond between him and Nat. There were some hurtles they had to overcome as a couple which I felt were glossed over. Oh but the sexy times were plentiful and mouthwateringly hot. These two had an incredible back and forth. The secondary characters were delightful. In Natalie’s words the town of Bailey Falls and its inhabitants were darling. I really enjoyed visiting there with her and all the people she interacted with including her best friend. Cream of the Crop is book #2 in the Hudson Valley series by Alice Clayton. It is a funny, smexy hot, standalone contemporary romance. Told from the heroine's point of view that has a happy ending.
book_junkee 6 months ago
2.5 stars? I've heard a lot of good things about Alice Clayton's books, so I was pretty excited to download it. I liked Natalie and Oscar well enough. She's brash and outspoken and he's stoic and quiet; they couldn't be more opposite. There are a few really great secondary characters. I loved Chad and Logan and they stole whatever scene they were in. My main problem is that I didn't see the spark between them. Yes, there were a lot of sex scenes, but it felt like filler. Or like I was trying to be convinced that they had a connection because they constantly tumbled into bed. Couple that with the long long long sections of scenes without dialogue and countless paragraphs detailing Chanel footwear or cashmere leggings and I quickly faded. Overall, there was something that kept me reading, but I'm not entirely sure what it was. Obviously by the reviews, I'm in the minority. I may try a different Alice book in the future, just out of curiosity. **Huge thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for providing the arc in exchange for an honest review**
asgoodrich 6 months ago
I wish I could have read Cream of the Crop two decades ago because I think I would have benefited from seeing Natalie’s confidence in her size 18 body. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn to embrace my curves until my early 30s and it really is eye-opening to see how different the world treats you when you carry yourself with confidence. Now I just need to find my very own Oscar – all six foot six inches of muscled farmer with tattoos and a healthy appreciation for a great big a—hem derriere. Natalie is an advertising executive who, based on the pitch she gives in the first chapter, is good at developing unique and successful marketing campaigns. Even though she’s been focusing on larger accounts in order to make a name for herself with the firm with the goal of making partner, she jumps at the chance to develop the tourism campaign for Bailey Falls. Why? Well, one of her best friends, Roxie, now lives there and it would be good for Roxie’s business and give Natalie a chance to see her friend more often. But the real reason is a certain dairy farmer who produces some of the best cheeses (Natalie’s addiction) she’s ever eaten. He’s also the first man in years whose mere presence renders her practically speechless (hehe hehe). Thankfully she overcomes her timidity after Roxie sets Natalie up to officially meet Oscar. Mind you, it was a hilarious meeting followed by an even funnier example of the importance of commas, but once the ice was broken, they freaking melted it with the heat they were generating. Being a confident, independent woman means that Natalie has no qualms about engaging in a short term affair with Oscar, and as she spends time with him, she wants more time with him, but can the city girl and farm boy have a real future together, especially living ninety minutes apart? Natalie totally gives Grace Sheridan a run for the money when it comes to my favorite Clayton heroine. She’s funny, she’s real, she goes for what she wants, she works what the good lord gave her, and she is not afraid to say what she means. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have moments of insecurity, because does – she’s a woman after all. But she exudes confidence without being arrogant or uppity, and because of it, she seems to draw people to her. Yet we learn through her conversation with Chad and Logan that during her senior year in high school, she took a rather brutal hit to her confidence that nearly crushed her. I was devastated for her when I read that scene and it made the woman she became all that more impressive. Watching the relationship between her and Oscar develop was entertaining, amusing, and scorching, as long as they were in Bailey Falls, that is. While Natalie did okay with country life on the weekends, Oscar did not do well with city life, not even for an evening. That was a painful evening to watch play out, especially once it became clear that Natalie wasn’t going to budge and why. I’m just glad that Natalie was smart enough to listen to her mother’s advice and take the necessary steps to put her world back to rights. I loved how the ending of Cream of the Crop played out and am really excited for the next book in the series, because not only am I looking forward to seeing Clara butt heads with Archie, but I’m hoping for updates on Natalie & Oscar and Roxie & Leo. I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!
Kimmerk65 6 months ago
Loved Oscar and Natalie!!! Awesome Book 2 in this series. Natalie was "da bomb" - she is great! The banter in this book was fabulous. The "hotness" was off the charts. I want more!!!
jeanniezelos 6 months ago
Cream of the Crop,  Alice Clayton Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews Genre: Romance.   My first Alice Clayton was the wonderful Wallbanger – followed by the Redhead trilogy. Actually I’ve recently finished a reread of that, good books I love to enjoy a second time or more...so I was really looking forward to this, even though I hadn’t read the first book. Each is a standalone book, so that shouldn’t matter. I love the way Alice’s heroines are such strong, confident women, no simpering milksops here, but Natalie grated on my to begin. She came across as almost overconfident, a bit pushy, she’s a size 18 – fine, so are lots of us- but she’s almost aggressively defensive  about it.There's an explanation later that makes sense, but she was annoying me with her constant references to it, and the way she almost treated men as sex objects yet got annoyed when they looked at her in the same way. Dual standards much Natalie? No one wants to be defined by a single part of them but she’s doing it to herself it seemed with her constant focus on her size and the Big is Beautiful mind-set she had.  I found it a bit hard to like her. That's really important to me, I need to be rooting for my leads, to want them to get whatever it was they desired. She grew on me by a third of the way in thankfully, and her interaction with Oscar to begin were brilliant. Who hasn’t been reduced to a shambling wreck, incapable of intelligent conversation by someone we like? The other characters, Oscar, Roxie – her friend – and her husband Leo were also great characters and played a solid part. I adored Leo’s daughter Polly, and then of course who couldn’t love Chad the Mayor and Logan, his husband. There was so much to like here, great characters, hot, erotic, steamy sex and a tentative romance, a realistic plot around how Natalie spent so much time in Bailey’s Falls, that I ought to have been glued to the page. Sadly I wasn’t though, found myself putting it aside and picking up something else a couple of times. I couldn’t have done that with Wallbanger, or the Redhead trio, yet didn’t get engaged with this read in the same way. Not sure why? I think it was the Natalie /Oscar romance, it was hot sex, and lots of it, but there was no real conflict or issues with them once they got together – I had hopes of Missy intervening but...shame as that kind of thing is right up my street. Still, it was a good read, just for me not a great one and not one I’d reread.   Stars: Four, a good read but a one off for me. ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher 
Fredreeca2001 7 months ago
Natalie is a true New Yorker. She hates the country. But when she gets an opportunity to do an add campaign for the charming country town of Bailey Falls, things change and definitely HEAT up!! Natalie oozes confidence and intelligence. Her sarcasm and wit keep the laughs coming. And then the brooding Oscar steps in and more than laughs flow throw the pages. Oscar is a cheese making, fine looking, cow chasing farmer. He and Natalie become a hot, hot, hot item! A long distance romance, an ex-wife which is still in love and dairy cows....yes I said cows...are just a few obstacles in their path. Somehow, these two make it work! I love how the reader gets to travel to the different parts of the city and the amazing areas of the country all in one book. This really added so much to the tale! This is a hilarious tale of love, romance and yes....cows!!! I fell in love with Alice Clayton when I read Wallbanger(it is still my favorite). She never fails to deliver and delight!! I received this novel from the publisher as part of Simon and Schuster XOXperts
AboutThatStory 7 months ago
Wonderful story, sweet and sexy and seriously entertaining! I absolutely love how Alice Clayton lays out a story. There is this great build as all the details are laid out, an almost perfect development that draws you in, not letting you know all the secrets at once. It makes for a really incredible read. I loved Natalie and Oscar so much, they were great characters. They had so many entertaining moments throughout. I enjoyed it all immensely. I adore Natalie! Her confidence and attitude and how strong she could be. Playful and fun and hella sexy. Oscar was fantastic too. A man of few words but what he said always seemed perfect. I had to laugh at Oscar sometimes because there were certain occasions where he seemed like a clueless man, which was almost endearing in a way. He was just a sweet genuine guy who was hot and made cheese. Give me a slice of that! Natalie however, I have a total girl crush on. I loved her and her journey. She had a wonderful awakening. I really enjoyed watching her grow. Love the chemistry between Natalie and Oscar. From two very different walks of life coming together, it made for some highly entertaining moments. The looks and stares they’d give one another, there was so much sexual tension and chemistry, it was awesome. I had so much anticipation while reading, I loved it! Loved the heat between them both as well. I enjoyed the ins and outs of Natalie and Oscar getting to know one another, excellent character development as we learn their histories. I loved watching them grow together and fall hard for one another. It was just this great love story about how Natalie and Oscar worked it out since they did come from two different worlds. There was a lot of emotion also and it could be really touching. Loved the additional characters and the fun they brought to the table. More Leo and Roxie! Yes! And Polly! So cute. And Chad and Logan. It was all so great! A really fantastic and fun story that left me feeling so happy! Complimentary copy received for honest review.
KTBookReviews1 7 months ago
Give it up for my big girls, large ladies, and bodacious babes! For the beautiful woman who knows who she is, is comfortable in her own skin, and can strut her stuff in thigh high Chanel boots down a Manhattan sidewalk or a country lane. You wanna know what sexy really is? It’s anyone who owns it, anyone who commands a room and fills the air with confidence. Natalie Grayson is just that kind of gal. She is big in the world of advertising and she has a way of making her mark while making a pitch. All woman and proud of it. Natalie Grayson also has an affinity for the creamy decadence that comes in the form of cheese. One of her favorites can be found at the farmer’s market, made by the powerful milk churning hands of Oscar Mendoza. Funny thing is, all that charisma and confidence Natalie has flies right out the window when she comes face to face with her purveyor of cheese. Who is this shy tongue tied girl who takes the cheese and scurries home? When Natalie and Oscar finally come face to face, in the quaint town of Hudson Valley, it’s a hilarious sprint across a field of cows that ends with a breathtaking sexy romp in the hay. I absolutely LOVE this series and dare I say, I love this even more than the first. Just having a heroine that is more of a today kind of woman and less of the overly sexualized size 2-6 typically described in romances is positively refreshing and much needed injection into the genre. Natalie wasn’t always so confident and finding out why and how she overcame is as triumphant as it is heartbreaking. Also, having a hero that knows exactly what he wants and makes no bones about it, is every Alpha lover’s dream come true. It’s udder perfection. (pun intended) 5 STARS!
BookWorm221 7 months ago
I love how Alice Clayton starts the book by saying how this book is about a plus sized girl but it is not about how the plus sized girl gets the boy, here the girl owns her body and sexuality and it is simply a love story between two people. Having read books by this author before I knew more or less what I was getting myself into, but honestly, I had forgotten how funny Alice is, also how wonderful her writing is, how she has this ability to create characters that speak to you and that you are able to connect with them one way or another. It was refreshing to read Natalie’s point to view, how she is curvy and owns it, loves it and isn’t afraid to be who she is. Being on the plus size myself, growing up I had some of the same issues Natalie had (although nothing traumatic or scaring) and as I grew older and started to really love myself I was able to flourish into the person I am today, happy with my body and curves and owning it. For that alone, I loved Natalie. The romantic side of the story is very swoony and also funny, these two get into some pretty funny/sexy situations in the book that had me laughing out loud. This is a series that I’m definitely looking forward to continue, can’t wait for the next book.
toniFMAMTC 7 months ago
This book with its sexy farmers really tempts the reader to head to the nearest farm. Overall Cream of the Crop is a contemporary romance, but it does a good job of educating also. I had never thought about how cheese was actually made before reading it. Natalie is a total city girl. She has a professional job, wears expensive shoes, loves to dress up and makes flirting an art form. She has an in to all the most IT restaurants and night spots. Oscar sells his cheese at the farmer’s market every Saturday morning. He’s stoic and straightforward. Natalie and Oscar are easy to like on the surface as is, but learning their backgrounds is what truly made me love them. Natalie is a plus-size girl who rocks being sexy. She seems to have always had the perfect life, but knowing her past enforces how awesome she is now. Oscar has a story of his own. He’s had disappointments, but he’s made his way in life admirably. I enjoyed meeting these new characters and catching up with the wonderful cast from the first book. I’m looking forward to more from the Hudson Valley series
AmyBosica 7 months ago
Told from dual points of view, Cream of the Crop follows the story of Oscar and Natalie. It is the second book in the Hudson Valley series, but can be read as a stand-alone. Cream of the Crop was exactly what I expected from Alice Clayton. It was fun, and entertaining. It made me laugh and fall in love all at the same time. I adored Natalie from the very beginning. She was confident and strong. She loved life and wasn’t afraid to indulge in the things that made her happy….especially when it comes to cheese. Oscar is the sexy cheese man. He’s noticed Natalie from her weekly visits and looks forward to their encounters. These two couldn’t be more different, but you know the saying: opposites attract, and in this case it totally does. Cream of the Crop is smart, funny and entertaining. It’s full of laughs, romance and swoon-worthy moments. The chemistry between Natalie and Oscar is instant and it was a joy watching these two try to figure things out. And, I loved that it was light on the drama and just a good old fashioned enjoyable read. I think Cream of the Crop would be perfect for summer reading!
Anonymous 7 months ago
4.5 STARS of Curvy Comma loving goodness I love, love when our leading lady has luscious curves. Natalie is confident and strong, loving her size 18 body and she know how to work it. “Size-eighteen women were supposed to be timid. Size-eighteen women were supposed to be shy. Size-eighteen women were supposed to be grateful for any male attention, and to feel especially honored if a good-looking man paid attention to them. I took the best-looking guy home with me whenever and however I pleased.” She can have almost any man she wants but there is one that turns this confident woman into a tongue tied mess. A cheese maker from Bailey Falls, named Oscar. “Six feet six inches of stunning. His skin was a deep golden color, tan but swirled through with the lightest caramel. Thick chestnut brown hair was caught back in what looked like a leather tie, but a few wavy pieces had escaped and were strewn about a chiseled face. The hair framed a sinful face, deeply-set gray-blue eyes shone out from under heavy brows, one of which had a slashing scar through the middle. Very Dylan McKay. Except this guy could have broken Dylan McKay with his ponytail alone. His features were dark, and coupled with the golden skin, hinted at sun-swept island beaches and South Seas waves. I’d ride those waves. But the ink! Sweet mother of needles, the ink. From across the market I could see the swirls of red, green, orange, and black coating him in full sleeves, stopping just above his wrists. I’d dated bad boys, and I’d f@ked my share.” — Holy crap This. Man. Is. Hot. As. Sin! A phenomenal read full of wit and fun. Bailey Falls has some of the hottest farmers on the planet. Steam rolled off the pages with great writing. This book is an all around fun ride just waiting to be taken. We all have skeletons in our closet, things that make us who we are and the things that make up Natalie and Oscar are what makes this a titillating, make you smile read! Witchy Richey's Booktastic Reviews
LilyElementBookReviews 7 months ago
Cream of the Crop is book two in the Hudson Valley series. This book was a must read for me since I enjoyed the first book so much. This series can be read as a standalone books but I will warn you that the couple in book one is present in this installment though they don't play a huge part. I'd recommend reading these in order because it gives more background to the secondary characters. This installment revolves around Natalie Grayson, an advertising guru that lives in NY. She can make porta potties classy so naturally when the town her BFF lives in asks for an ad campaign that will put them on the map, she jumps at the chance. It might have crossed her mind that Hudson Valley also has the super sexy dairy farmer (Oscar) that she's had a crush on for awhile too. If only she can get past her sudden shyness every time she's around him. The extent of Oscar and Natalie's weekly talks at the local farmers market is: "Brie?" "Oh, yes." The thing is, Natalie is never shy, it's only around Oscar. She quickly became one of my favorite characters, she's plus size and so confident about everything she does. Natalie heads to Hudson Valley to work on the advertising campaign, and also gets to hang out with her BFF Roxie while working on the project. As we can expect, her path crosses Oscar and hilarity ensues. If you haven't read an AClayton novel before, she writes in humor excellently, I guarantee you'll be laughing while reading. She finally gets over her crushing shyness and the chemistry between the two is electrifying. I wasn't sure how things would work between the two since they live an hour or so away from one another but I was rooting for them the entire time. There are of course bumps in the road for them along their journey and man it made me frustrated when those bumps occur. Cream of the Crop is a hot and hilarious read. It's set in a small, close knit town and the characters in this one grabbed me from the start. I haven't read all that many books with a plus size girl but I think they should be more present in novels. And Oscar, is the quiet type and he was so yummy being tall, dark and handsome. He comes out of his shell around Natalie and the sexy scenes get scorching. I'm addicted to this series and hope book three comes out soon, I'll need another visit to Hudson Valley asap. If you enjoy small town books or Contemporary Romance, I strongly suggest you pick this book up!