Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Featured Book: Body Language by Janet Cameron Hoult

When you lose your vision, your hearing and your balance, it's hard to find any humor in the inevitable aging process.

These all too human conditions-from wrinkles to worn-out knees, counting calories and colonoscopies, and all the aches and pains in between-form the backbone of Body Language, a hilarious collection of poems that lament the infirmities of age.

We can all relate to the frustration of aging body parts, but if you can poke fun at yourself, you can handle whatever life hands you!

So read, enjoy, and laugh! And remember, "Though our bodies do not function / As they did when we sought action / With pills and exercise each day / We hope that we will be OK..."



About the author:

Janet Cameron Hoult, Professor Emerita at California State University, Los Angeles, has lived and traveled all over the world. She attended high school in Iran, and universities in Lebanon, France, and the United States, with teaching assignments in Germany, Korea, Japan, Thailand, and China. Now in her seventies, Dr. Hoult and her husband, Charley, live in Southern California. Her poetry collection Body Parts: A Collection of Poems about Aging, also published by Outskirts Press, won a Reader's Favorite Award. Proceeds from the sale of Body Language and Body Parts will go to the David Cameron Fisher Memorial Scholarship at CSULA.



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Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: Bred to Kill by Franck Thilliez

In the shocking sequel to runaway international bestseller Syndrome E, Lucie Henebelle and Inspector Sharko have reunited to take on the case of the brutal murder of Eva Louts, a promising graduate student who was killed while working at a primate research center outside Paris. But what first appears to be a vicious animal attack soon proves to be something more sinister. What was Eva secretly researching? Was she tracking three fanatical scientists who control a thirty-thousand-year-old virus with plans to unleash it into the world?

With his unmatched ability to inject cutting-edge science into his novels, Thilliez draws on genetics, paleontology, and the dark side of human nature to create this smart, adrenaline-fueled thriller. Bred to Kill moves from the rain-slicked streets of Paris to the heart of the Alps to the remote Amazon jungle as Lucie and Sharko work to solve the murder—before whoever killed Eva comes for them.



From the library.

Having recently read the first of the author's books, Syndrome E, and vaguely enjoyed it I was intrigued to see this "sequel" available at my local library and picked it up.

This story also featured Lucie and Sharko, who remained rather unlikable.  Sharko was a bit more sympathetic this time around but Lucie was still repellant.  Thankfully, Lucie did finally admit to her role as a truly horrible parent so her character did make some progress.

The story itself was okay.  It wasn't quite as intriguing as the previous volume but it was still good enough to continue through to the end.  There was nothing spectacular about it, but nothing truly horrendous either.  I was really rather neutral about it.  The science was interesting, and rather terrifying at points, which did keep me more engaged than I would have expected.  There was also a rather large reveal about 7/8ths of the way through the book regarding Lucie's twins which was a true "wow" moment.

Overall, this was an interesting read, but nothing I would fight someone for over the last copy.  If you happen to see it and you have nothing more pressing on your TBR pile it's worth a look.  It is highly recommended that you read the previous book first though so things will make a lot more sense.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It




Sunday, March 27, 2016

Featured Book: A Flag for the Flying Dragon by Carole P. Roman

It's business as usual on the Flying Dragon. Their mission is to find a flag for the ship.

Captain No Beard sighs, "Being a captain is hard work," as he watches the busy crew preparing the vessel for their next adventure.

Polly is giving out pretzels; Linus is polishing a lamp. Matie is cracking coconuts, Cayla is stuffing holes, and Hallie is swabbing the deck. High overhead, trouble is brewing, and it is not the weather. Mongo does not want any help from the newest crew member, and it is creating a hurricane of a mess on board.

The team must come together and find a task that will fit Zachary without interfering with their own fun. On the way, they acquire a flag that will unite them as both friends and crew.

Join the problem-solving crew of the Flying Dragon as they find a flag for their ship and a job for Zach.



About the author:

Carole P. Roman is the award-winning author of the Captain No Beard series. Both Captain No Beard-An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life and Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis have received the Kirkus Star of Exceptional Merit. The first book in the series was named to Kirkus Reviews Best 2012. Each book has won numerous awards, namely the NABE Pinnacle Award, ERIK Award for 2013, ForeWord Review Five Star, Rebecca Reads, and Reader's Views Children's Book of the Year 2013. Recently it was awarded the Marble Book Award for Best Illustration in a series for Bonnie Lemaire's stunning illustrations.



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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Featured Book: Stevenson's Treasure by Mark Wiederanders

In 1879 Robert Louis Stevenson embarked on one of the most romantic, ill-advised but wildly successful quests a literary figure has ever made.

Young, unknown, and in failing health, he journeys six-thousand arduous miles to make Fanny Osbourne his wife, despite the fact that she is already married (unhappily), has children, and is ten years older than he.

And yet, from their first meeting, he knew instantly she was the only woman for him.


About the author:

Mark Wiederanders lives in Northern California and writes about the private lives of famous authors. His screenplay about William Shakespeare's family, "Taming Judith" was a finalist in the Academy of Motion Pictures' annual screenwriting competition and was optioned by a film company. The idea for his current novel, STEVENSON'S TREASURE hatched during a visit to Carmel, when Mark learned that Robert Louis Stevenson suffered a near-fatal collapse in 1879 while hiking nearby. What was the young, as-yet unknown Scottish writer doing so far from home?

To write the novel that resulted from this question, Mark studied hundreds of historical letters and visited sites near him in Monterey, San Francisco, and Calistoga. Then he followed Stevenson's footsteps to Europe, lodging at the Stevenson home in Edinburgh followed by a week in the Highlands cottage where RLS wrote TREASURE ISLAND. Mark is also a research psychologist (Ph.D, University of Colorado) who has studied treatment programs for delinquents and the criminally insane. His interests include acting in community theater (recently a Neil Simon play), downhill skiing, golf, and spending time with his wife and three grown children.



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Friday, March 25, 2016

Review: The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

An intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of the latest thinking about love, language, and family.

Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of ''autotheory'' offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance: the story of the author's relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes Nelson's account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, is an intimate portrayal of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making.

Writing in the spirit of public intellectuals such as Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, Nelson binds her personal experience to a rigorous exploration of what iconic theorists have said about sexuality, gender, and the vexed institutions of marriage and child-rearing. Nelson's insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry of this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.



From the library.

I wanted to like this, I really did, but it was just so incredibly boring.  Seriously, even the author seemed bored by her material as she read the book.  And read it was.  There was no performance at all on this audiobook, just close to five hours of monotonous droning.  The author may as well have been reading tax form instructions for the amount of animation she brought to her reading.  I'm 99.9% sure that she could have made Harry Potter boring if she read it aloud.

The story, if you can even call it that, was just a neverending bitchfest about how all straight people are evil, society is heteronormative and therefore evil, all non-intellectuals are evil, anyone who isn't a feminist is evil, etc., etc. There was seriously a five minute rant about how the author's mother dared to put a family photo on a mug and give it to her because the photo was heteronormative and therefore offensive.  Forget the fact that it was her family in the damn photo.  I mean, what a bitch to give your daughter a gift.  She's so abused.

The bitchfest continued with what I think was supposed to be an intellectual study of gender and relationships which included a quote from an individual the author deems acceptable in almost every paragraph.  It would have been genuinely fascinating had it had a teensy, tiny bit of warmth or joy to it.  Instead, it was a whiny mess worthy of a group of black turtleneck clad intellectuals grouped around a table in a pretentious coffeehouse drinking tiny cups of snooty coffee.  I actually banged my iPod against my forehead out of sheer frustration more than once while I was listening to this because the author had such a "holier than thou" attitude.

Overall, the problems with this arise not from the subject matter, but from the author.  Her off putting attitude and poor performance took what could have been an interesting narrative had it been written by virtually anyone else on Earth and made it a teeth grinding experience that I could not wait to end.  I'm sure the author would tell me that I'm just too stupid to understand her method and too inherently biased and privileged as a heterosexual cisgender woman to even comprehend her message but I still cannot bring myself to recommend this unless you have already read and enjoyed the author's previous works.  

☆☆☆☆ = Didn't Like It




Thursday, March 24, 2016

Review: Wildly Human by Christina Barnes

You have a story. It's uniquely yours. It's full of challenges, beliefs, loves, fears, successes and failures, among other things. There is no wrong story. At the present time, at the end of it, it says; (to be continued...) today.

Are you the writer of do you feel more like the reader of your story?

This is a collection of unlikely messengers bringing you 19 concepts about life, designed to awaken the writer within you. Your thoughts are your pen and paper.

The purpose is to encourage you to connect the dots of your own story. And to love your story no matter how crazy or dysfunctional it seems. It's what makes you so wildly human. Ultimately, you'll want to rise up like a mama bear in how you love yourself, and who and what you allow into your life. As long as you're on this earth, it's never too late to write a happy ending for yourself.



Received for review.

I was intrigued to receive this since it was such a unique format - short stories accompanied by artwork, each centering on a different theme.  I was immediately taken in by the lovely illustrations, especially that featured on page 141 for The Forest Cats since I am a cat lover.

The issues arose from the stories themselves.  I'm sure quite a bit of work went into them and they are clearly works loved by the author but as a reader they leave a bit to be desired.  They're reasonably well written and short enough to be read in a few minutes each but I just could not grasp the messages of the stories.  Some were obvious and those stories were necessarily more enjoyable, but others just escaped me entirely and left me confused and vaguely dissatisfied.

Overall, while this was a promising concept and was well presented the actual stories left a bit to be desired.  I did enjoy the book as a whole though and certainly recommend it to those who are less nitpicky than I am.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It




Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Featured Book: Plagues of Eden by Sharon Linnea and B.K. Sherer

THE WHEEL SPINS. CHAOS IS UNLEASHED. 72 HOURS AND COUNTING UNTIL THE DEATH OF THE FIRSTBORN… 

The race is on to stop a madman bent on unleashing the ancient plagues of Egypt against the modern world. 

The countdown has begun. Only Army Chaplain Jaime Richards, along with rock star Mark Shepard, can stop the catastrophe and save the mysterious Sword 23 from the clutches of a psychopath... if they can find the true mastermind in time.






About the author:

SHARON LINNÉA is the author of the new mystery These Violent Delights as well as the four Eden Thrillers: Chasing Eden, Beyond Eden,Treasure of Eden and the new Plagues of Eden. She has also written award-winning biographies of Raoul Wallenberg and Princess Ka'iulani, as well as the nonfiction book Lost Civilizations. Sharon has been a staff writer for five national magazines and a ghostwriter for dozens of celebrities. She lives with her family outside of New York City. For more information about Sharon and a more extensive biography, see her website at www.sharonlinnea.com. For immediate access to her news and appearances, like her on Facebook at Sharon Linnea, Author


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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Review: The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig

New York Times bestselling authors Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig present a masterful collaboration—a rich, multigenerational novel of love and loss that spans half a century....

1945: When the critically wounded Captain Cooper Ravenal is brought to a private hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, young Dr. Kate Schuyler is drawn into a complex mystery that connects three generations of women in her family to a single extraordinary room in a Gilded Age mansion.

Who is the woman in Captain Ravenel's portrait miniature who looks so much like Kate? And why is she wearing the ruby pendant handed down to Kate by her mother? In their pursuit of answers, they find themselves drawn into the turbulent stories of Gilded Age Olive Van Alen, driven from riches to rags, who hired out as a servant in the very house her father designed, and Jazz Age Lucy Young, who came from Brooklyn to Manhattan in pursuit of the father she had never known. But are Kate and Cooper ready for the secrets that will be revealed in the Forgotten Room?

The Forgotten Room, set in alternating time periods, is a sumptuous feast of a novel brought to vivid life by three brilliant storytellers.



ARC received for review.

When I first saw this had three authors I frankly thought it was going to a train wreck but I was thankfully proved incorrect.  Far from breaking up the flow and making it unreadable the varying viewpoints came together to make for a very enjoyable story.

I must admit that while I did like all three characters my favorite was Lucy (from the 1920s) because she was just a compelling person and someone you couldn't wait to read more about.  Plus, she had great lines such as:

He had to be drunk.  There was no other explanation.  Drunk or mad.

Overall, this was a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable read.  Each character's story, while completely different and equally intriguing, wove together seamlessly to provide a cohesive and charming read with hearty doses of romance, mystery, and adventure.  I certainly highly recommend this to old and new fans of the authors alike.

★★★★ = Really Liked It




Monday, March 21, 2016

Guest Post: Awaken Your Divine Intuition by Susan Shumsky, DD

Susan Shumsky DD, author of Awaken Your Divine Intuition, stopped by to share with us a piece she wrote.






About the book:

Deep within the heart of every soul is the desire to experience and communicate directly with Spirit. The divine presence is not the exclusive property of great saints, sages, or holy men. Everyone is worthy to receive the blessings of Spirit.

In this profound, practical, transformational book, you will learn proven techniques to open your heart, mind, and spirit to the riches of inner divine contact. You will open the pipeline to the divine and begin the flow of inner guidance, love, healing, wisdom, and inspiration from your center of being. You will awaken the still, small voice within, go directly to Spirit without a middleman, and experience higher consciousness.

Awaken Your Divine Intuition, along with the included link to an online meditation, will help you:
  • Tap into your 'in-house counselor‚" your inner guidance and inner genius.
  • Receive unique signals that identify specific aspects of inner divinity.
  • Get divine messages and inner guidance and test whether they are real.
  • Awaken your clairvoyant, clairaudient, and clairsentient gifts.
  • Experience radiant light, supernal love, and spiritual grace.
  • Heal ego blockages that have inhibited your intuition.
  • Experience the divine presence anytime you want.
  • Never be alone again.


About the author:

Dr. Susan Shumsky is a highly respected spiritual teacher, award-winning author, and founder of Divine Revelation®--a unique, field-proven technology for contacting the divine presence, for hearing and testing the inner voice, and for receiving clear divine guidance. A pioneer in the human potential field, she has taught meditation, prayer, affirmation, and intuition for nearly 50 years to thousands worldwide. Her books include Divine Revelation, Exploring Meditation, Miracle Prayer, Ascension, Instant Healing, The Power of Auras, The Power of Chakras, and Awaken Your Third Eye. For 22 years, her mentor was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi--guru of the Beatles and of Deepak Chopra. She served on Maharishi's personal staff for seven years. Her Website is www.drsusan.org.




Sunday, March 20, 2016

Featured Book: Sleep With Angels by Lorene Joyce Humpal

Longing to return to beer halls and boys, a teenager gives birth to a daughter during the Great Depression, but shows the ultimate lack of maternal instinct when her baby goes missing. Though she claims that a nurse abducted the newborn, the infant and the anonymous nurse are never seen again.

In Minneapolis, Lorene Hermanson is raised on discipline and Christian morality. But as a young married woman, Lorene's life collides with that of the missing baby when she learns her mother's secret: thirty years earlier, her mother saved Lorene from teenagers and a wealthy family who were determined to drown the baby. Heartbroken to learn her own birth story, Lorene struggles with the reality.

The true story of one woman's most improbable start and her anguish of learning that life isn't what it appears to be, Sleep With Angels is a lifelong journey about the true beauty of maternal love, holding onto faith, and the precious gift of life. It is a rare cross between true crime and inspiration.



About the author:

Lorene Humpal resides in Seattle and enjoys spending time with her two adult sons. She has an incredible zest for and appreciation of life, as she knows her existence is against all odds. Sleep with Angels is Lorene Humpal's first book.



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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Featured Book: Embrace Your Magnificence by Fabienne Fredrickson

What started as a love letter to her young daughter has become Fabienne Fredrickson’s message to women everywhere: “You are a magnificent being, truly deserving of a full and abundant life.”

In Embrace Your Magnificence, Fabienne lays out a course in self-esteem. She shows that when you realize how great you truly are, you free yourself to confidently shift your life. When you see how glorious and brave you are, you gather the courage to break out of your shell, stop playing small, and step into your potential. When you honor, love, and value yourself, you accept all the abundance the universe has in store for you.

By living the principles within these 72 inspiring lessons, Fabienne has created an extraordinary life for herself and her family. Her advice—which comes from real-world experiences in both her personal life and her work with clients—is universally beneficial and can be applied in anyone’s life. With love, appreciation, and compassion, Fabienne encourages you to move forward in your own journey, so you too can have a richer, fuller, more abundant life.




About the author:

Fabienne Fredrickson is an inspirational mentor to thousands of clients worldwide, an author, international speaker and founder of The Client Attraction Business School™ and ClientAttraction.com, ranked repeatedly by Inc. magazine as one of America's Fastest Growing Private Companies and recipient of the 2013 Stevie® Award for Entrepreneur of the Year. As one of the most influential and highly-acclaimed success mindset speakers and mentors in the world, Fabienne believes in the capacity for each and every person to become the full expression of their purpose here on earth by taking a no-excuses approach to growing within and willingness to "play a bigger game". Her mindset teachings, born from Fabienne's own personal experiences and challenges and once intended for entrepreneurs, are now embraced by women all around the world who seek a catalyst for their personal and professional growth, and to live a life they love.



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Friday, March 18, 2016

Review: Behaving Disgracefully by Roni Walker

Ellen Margaret Brunelle thought jokes should be banned - jokes about paedophiles that is.

She often thought how terrible it must be to be a kid who was being abused and to hear the whole world laughing at them. It was worse than the very worst virus - child abuse - and the damage spread just as quickly.

Teenage Ellen knew that Myra Hindley had been treated worse than an animal when she was a child. And although she knew that there was no excuse whatsoever for that woman's vile behaviour, she also knew how Myra's childhood and how she eventually turned out as an adult proved just how easily a young mind could be savaged.

She was very much aware of all the websites that existed - websites that were blatantly encouraging lewd and depraved behaviour. Not only were innocent children being abused, but babies were actually being sexualised from birth.

It was horrendous. It was all so terribly and despicably wrong in Ellen's eyes - and not enough was being done to stop it.

But it seemed like people didn't want to know, or want to read, or want to hear about it - sometimes even when it was happening under their own roofs - sometimes even to their own children.

There were those who didn't want to upset the apple cart by facing up to it, those who didn't want their apparently perfect lives ruined by divulging such atrocities going on under their own roofs.

In Miss Brunelle's eyes those types were almost as bad as the abuser - those who covered up, those who refused to listen, those who refused to believe, and those who let it continue...

But then there was the other end of the scale - the liars who blatantly lie and make it all up.

That well known adage often rang true... "Ain't no fury like a woman scorned."

And those who lie and bring a good man down are as bad as any abuser - just like she herself had done?

Perhaps.



Received for review.

I can't say that I actually wanted to like this since I wasn't particularly invested in it one way or another when it initially arrived so when I wasn't very impressed it wasn't as disappointing of an experience as it could have been.

I'm not sure what the author's intention was beyond a feminist rant about sexual abuse against females by family members.  There was no actual plot to make this even a tiny bit engaging, just continued rambling.  The author seems to believe that all men are evil and all women are wonderful.  Needless to say this became grating by approximately page three, and this only because the author spent the first two pages detailing a very cringe worthy masturbation scene.

The author's tone and language were just totally off putting, including her use of the phrase "I fell pregnant".  The character "fell" pregnant?  Was it a freaking accident?  Whoops, she tripped and bam she was pregnant?  What even is that?  This, along with many, many, many other nightmarish phrases inspired a great deal of teeth grinding while I suffered through this.

Overall, to say that I did not like this would be a complete understatement.  I actively hated this book and feel the paper it was printed on would be better used in any other capacity.  I had to restrain myself from going all Fahrenheit 451 on it by the last page.  The poor writing in addition to disagreeable and completely unsympathetic characters combined to make this a total and complete waste.  Obviously, I cannot recommend it at all and if, by chance, you are given a copy I suggest you divest yourself of it as quickly as possible by any means necessary.

☆☆☆☆ = Didn't Like It




Thursday, March 17, 2016

Review: The Aztec UFO Incident by Scott Ramsey, Suzanne Ramsey, and Frank Thayer, PhD

The Aztec UFO Incident—the first ever widely publicized report of a recovered flying saucer—was derided as a hoax for decades. But now the Ramseys and Frank Thayer reveal the exact spot where the craft landed and show how the 100-foot diameter saucer was moved to a secret laboratory. Witnesses to the incident who were interviewed by the authors affirm that they were sworn to secrecy by the military. The authors also reveal the names of scientists who worked on the craft after its recovery.

Also included are previously unseen documents from the CIA, FBI, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army that constituted a cover-up whose sole purpose was to surround the Aztec story with a smokescreen of lies, misinformation, and destructive allegations.

Roswell is no longer the only proven flying saucer recovery we know about. The Aztec UFO Incident is a must-read for historians and UFO students alike.ians and UFO students alike.



Received for review.

I'm the first to admit that I can never pass up a story about UFOs, especially if it is a non-fiction account (which is probably due to my years as a hardcore fan of The X-Files) so I grabbed on to this the moment I took it from the envelope it arrived in and didn't put it down until I was done.

The authors do believe every word that they wrote in this book and their dedication to the time intensive and extensive research is clear in every page.  They clearly and concisely present all their evidence so it can be understood by those without scientific training but without any sort of New Age type bent either.  They know what they believe and what they believe the evidence points to and they do their very best to let the reader come to the same conclusions through a comprehensive presentation of evidence.

Overall, while I was not completely convinced by the end of the book I could admit that there is certainly a wealth of evidence for the UFO explanation of events and it certainly made me think deeply about the situation.  This is a must read for UFO devotees who will find the well researched and coherent arguments very welcome.  I certainly highly recommend it.

★★★★ = Really Liked It




Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Featured Book: Billy Christmas by Mark A. Pritchard

When Billy’s father mysteriously disappears and his mother responds by becoming more and more reclusive, Billy maintains hope that his father’s absence is not by choice—despite the rumors and taunts of his classmates who believe otherwise.

Twelve days before Christmas, Billy acquires a magical tree with a dozen ornaments, each of which holds a clue to finding his father. In order to do so, however, Billy must solve one puzzle each day, so he enlists the help of his best friend Katherine, not realizing that in doing so, he has placed them both in grave danger.

The forces of evil that have captured Billy’s father are revealed to be manifest in the landscape of their very own small hometown outside of Oxford, England, as well as in some of its seemingly benign inhabitants.

A beautifully woven narrative with rich, compelling characters, this novel is sure to strike a chord with any fan of fantasy literature.



About the author:

Mark A. Pritchard grew up in the New Forest in Southern England, in a village with more sheep than people. He is the eldest of four siblings, who are mostly recovering well.

Pritchard holds a degree in Drama from King Alfred's College, Winchester. Tired of suffering Mark's essays, the Head of Drama suggested he write a screenplay as his dissertation. Words ceased to be mortal enemies and Pritchard has been captured by storytelling ever since.

Mark lives in Oxford, UK where he writes, acts and patronises the better pubs. His daughter is now old enough to despair in public.



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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Review: Breaking Bad: Cookin' Up Some Color, Yo by Jen Lewis

In just five seasons, Breaking Bad cooked viewers everywhere into a frenzy, with its wildly addictive plot and complex character development following Walter White's transformation from mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher to dangerously successful meth cooker. Fans watched Walt's epic transformation as he was forced to confront a new reality laced with the inevitability of terminal lung cancer and sympathized with his intentions to provide for a future for his family as he faced the evils that came with a gradual immersion into the drug world. Breaking Bad: Cookin' Up Some Color, Yo captures the show's badass cast of characters, best cliff-hangers, and key locations in a creative experience designed to let you relive its adrenaline-pumping moments all over again. Featuring line art of Walt, Jesse, Mike, Saul, Gus, Hank Schrader, Marie Schrader, Skyler, and Walt Jr. in a variety of scenes, the book moves chronologically through the series, allowing you to color in highlights from each season, as well as complete word searches, crossword puzzles, and dot-to-dots all featuring favorite characters and moments from the show. Quotes and anecdotes from the show are included throughout the 80 pages, to ensure a complete experience for any Breaking Bad fan.



Received for review.

Although I was never a huge fan of the show I always found Breaking Bad to be an amusing, albeit crazy, ride so I was intrigued by this coloring book for adults.  Coloring is in lately and I've colored my share of intricate designs in the past few months so it was a relief to come across this more simplistic design style that focused more on the characters and scenes from the show rather than some complex statement piece.  The pictures are fast and easy to color and most can be completed in a matter of minutes which makes it that much more enjoyable.

Overall, while fun for casual fans this is a must have for hardcore fans of the show.  The coloring experience is enjoyable and makes for a nice, casual activity.  I certainly recommend it to those looking for a simple coloring experience, as well as fans of the show.

★★★★ = Really Liked It




Monday, March 14, 2016

Book Excerpt: The World's Most Haunted Hospitals by Richard Estep

Richard Estep, author of The World’s Most Haunted Hospitals stopped by to share with us an excerpt from his book.






In a dynamic vortex between life and death, a hospital is where people enter this world, and leave it. And, what tales a hospital could tell!

In The World’s Most Haunted Hospitals: True-Life Paranormal Encounters in Asylums, Hospitals, and Institutions, paramedic and paranormal investigator, Richard Estep, researches and recounts chilling stories of hospital hauntings around the world.

Fans of his previous books on hauntings and new readers will turn up the lights, lock the doors and sink into stories of:
  • Frightening apparitions at an old Utah hospital, now a nursing home, whose appearances predict patients’ deaths.
  • A former Kentucky sanatorium haunted by thousands of patients who died there, and some of the nurses who cared for them.
  • Terrifying screams and violent scenes that scare visitors away from an abandoned airbase hospital in the Philippines.
  • A nurse in grey who haunts the corridors of a London hospital and terrifies doctors and nurses who encounter her restless spirit.
The World’s Most Haunted Hospitals is a goosebump-producing ride around the globe, stopping at fascinating old and new hospitals and asylums where doctors, nurses, patients, and others can’t wait to tell of their real-life, alarming encounters with strange and scary specters.



About the author:

Richard Estep has been a paranormal investigator for the past twenty years, and is currently director of the Boulder County Paranormal Research Society. He makes a living as a paramedic chief, clinical educator, and teacher in several EMT and paramedic training programs. When not working or investigating claims of the paranormal, Richard can either be found serving as a volunteer firefighter-paramedic, adding to his vast collection of Star Wars memorabilia and Lego, or working on his next book. He is the author of several books on the subject of ghosts and hauntings, and the “Wellington Undead” series of novels. He lives with his wife Laura in northern Colorado, along with a dog and more rescue cats than their homeowners association would like.



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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Featured Book: The Mountain Place of Knowledge by Marshall Chamberlain

The Mountain Place of Knowledge is a tense, driving action thriller. Marshall Chamberlain gives us a raging adventure into plausible reality. 
  • A Place Of Knowledge Inside A Belizean Mountain 
  • A Sentinel Guards The Entrance 
  • A Scepter Instrument That Heals And Destroys 
  • A Jeweled Ball Of Blue Death 
  • A Race To Preserve Ancient Technology 
The burial chamber of a revered Mayan sorceress is uncovered atop a sacrificial pyramid at the Caracol ruins in western Belize. Translation of ancient metallic scrolls and a 1100-year-old codex found in the chamber reveal the existence of a secret entrance to the inside of a mountain. The scrolls refer to the interior as Trinium, the Place of Knowledge, and explain its creation by an advanced civilization. 

A flash of mysterious blue light brings death to a U.N. official, and investigators are sent to Belize to discover the source and locate the secret mountain entrance. What they discover inside is bizarre and unimaginable; mental prodding guides them to the Place of Seeing for the most shocking experience of their lives. 

Leaks of the discoveries cause one nation to determine the mountain poses a threat to world order, and it will take great risks to neutralize the danger. Discover ancient technology--the modern-day "Jules Verne" effect. 

Action, intrigue, and riveting adventure, The Mountain Place of Knowledge is page-turning excitement that runs like a raging river until the very last page.



About the author:

Marshall Chamberlain is a man focused on his passions, with no time for pets, lawns, plants, puttering around or companion compromises. He has a master's degree in Resource Development from Michigan State University and a graduate degree in International Management from the Thunderbird School near Phoenix, Ariz. He served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and spent many years in investment banking, venture capital and even a stint as a professional waiter. He is obsessed with preparedness, survival and independence. This combination of traits and an unconditional openness to life have led him to all manner of personal adventures and the authoring of adventure-thrillers. His novels are widely available as trade paperbacks and in various ebook formats. Chamberlain's primary worldview is simple but profound--"I'm in awe of the magnificence of this world." To discover more about this above average man, visit his website: www.marshallchamberlain.com. Or, contact him at: marshall@marshallchamberlain.com.



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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Featured Book: Suddenly Real by Destiny Abumchi

Suddenly real is about an impossible love between President Kenny Young and a medical student from a poor low class background he met in his dream.

After the death of the first lady, President Kenny Young refuses to date again. He spends all his time working long hours at the office as a coping mechanism for his grief. The pressure from his mother and friends to remarry becomes too much for him. He decides to give love another chance, but then is betrayed. With a broken heart, he swears never to love again. But then reoccurring dreams send him to an adventure.

As he embarks on this adventure, he has no idea what he is getting into. He finds himself in the mist of tribulations, trials and disappointments that threaten his career and personal life.

Suddenly real is about love, romance, betrayal and true love. It is about hope, trust, perseverance and realization of dreams. It is about dedication, self confidence and self respect. Suddenly real is full of actions and adventures. It is about not giving up on love. Find out how it suddenly becomes real.



About the author:

Destiny Abumchi is a senior at one of America's prestigious universities, majoring in psychology. She has a passion for languages and speaks several. Her curiosity about what constitutes true love inspired her to write Suddenly Real.



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Friday, March 11, 2016

Review: Blood Men by Paul Cleave

Twenty years ago, a serial killer was caught, convicted, and locked away in New Zealand’s most hellish penitentiary. That man was Edward’s father.

Edward has struggled his entire life to put the nightmares of his childhood behind him. But a week before Christmas, violence once again makes an unwelcome appearance in his world. Is Edward destined to be just like his father, to become a man of blood?

A true master of the genre, Paul Cleave unveils a brutally vivid picture of a killer’s mind and a city of fallen angels captured at the ends of the earth.



From the library.

After my first experience with this author I was sure I would never read another of his books but this just sounded so fascinating that I simply had to try it and I was quite pleased that I did.

The main character, Eddie, wasn't particularly likable, but I figured that was mostly due to the recent events he had experienced.  His journey, however, was fascinating.  He had a "monster" inside (similar to Dexter's "Dark Passenger") and it was truly fascinating to see his relationship with this entity and how it affected his decisions.  While I never really felt any empathy for him after the description of what he did to a dog in his youth he was a compelling character and that kept me interested in his story.

There were two events that made the book especially good.  The first involved the resolution of Eddie's daughter Sam's storyline and, without giving too many spoilers, it was so unexpected that it just gave me chills (and tears).  It was a true "WTF" moment.  The second was Eddie's relationship with his father.  When that twist came about I could just hear Cosima from Orphan Black saying "Dude, that's awesome!" and I actually gasped out loud at the reveal.

I also really liked the cameos by characters from previous books - the Christchurch Carver and Theodore Tate - which really added to the feel that while not directly connected all the author's books are set in the same world.

Overall, while I really had no emotional connection with the main character I found the story to be a true page turner.  I was glued to the action and simply could not put this down.  If you are a suspense fan then I certainly recommend this.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



Thursday, March 10, 2016

Review: Araminta Spookie, Books 1 & 2: My Haunted House & The Sword in the Grotto by Angie Sage

Book 1: MY HAUNTED HOUSE: Araminta Spookie lives in a wonderful old haunted house, but her crabby Aunt Tabby is determined to sell their house - Araminta has to stop her! With the help of a haunted suit of armor named Sir Horace, a ghost named Edmund, and a lot of imagination, Araminta hatches a plot for an Awful Ambush that is so ghoulish, it just might work!

Book 2: THE SWORD IN THE GROTTO: Sir Horace is about to turn five hundred years old! Araminta and Wanda need to find him the perfect gift. Araminta finds an ancient sword in a grotto hidden under her haunted house - and it should be a cinch to get it. But she wasn't planning on the nasty surprise of a portcullis-trap and a rising tide in the grotto. Will Araminta and Wanda make it to Sir Horace's birthday party?



From the library.

I generally like Angie Sage's books so when I saw the audiobook edition of the first two books of her Araminta Spookie series I immediately added it to my pile thinking it would be a fun read.  Sadly, I was mistaken.

First, the stories are acceptable but not what one could consider good and the unethical and rather violent actions Araminta performs in the books are just uncalled for and teaches readers that these actions are acceptable when they clearly are not.  For instance, in the first book Araminta routinely throws around flour and Jello and all sorts of other items to prove her house "haunted" and then is surprised when she is reprimanded for her actions like she thinks it's okay to just throw stuff around everywhere.  Most disturbing though, is the casual joking mention of animal violence which is never, ever acceptable.  Araminta laughs over how her aunt sent a cat through the rinse cycle in the washing machine which is wrong on so many levels.  The cat in the story survived but the author's light-hearted treatment of a serious incident just turned my stomach.  I am genuinely concerned that some readers of the book may consider it to be a good idea and may actually try to put a cat in a washing machine without considering the consequences.

Second, was the issue of the reader.  Nails on a chalkboard is really too kind for her voice, which sends chills up your spine and makes you grit your teeth.  The screechy voice just put me on edge right away and it never got better.  The worst part, by far, was her performance of Wanda's character.  It sounded similar to what I would imagine a sheep being slowly murdered would sound like.  It was like a baa-ing screech and took away any remaining joy that I may have found in the book.

Overall I really cannot recommend this at all and especially if you are a fan of the author's I would give this a pass as it will just be a giant disappointment for you.

☆☆☆☆ = Didn't Like It



Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Featured Book: When a Spider Came to Stay by Rebecca Crosdale

She appeared one day next to the chair, right there on the floor.

She looked strange and didn’t speak my language, yet there she was, just looking up at me. I didn’t know why.


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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Review: Syndrome E by Franck Thilliez

The classic police procedural meets cutting-edge science in this huge international bestseller.

With this taut US debut, Thilliez explores the origins of violence through cutting-edge and popular science in a breakneck thriller rich with shocking plot twists and profound questions about the nature of humanity.

Already a runaway bestseller in France, Syndrome E tells the story of beleaguered detective Lucie Hennebelle, whose old friend has developed a case of spontaneous blindness after watching an extremely rare -- and violent -- film from the 1950s. Embedded in the film are subliminal images so unspeakably heinous that Lucie realizes she must get to the bottom of it -- especially when nearly everyone who comes into contact with the film starts turning up dead.

Enlisting the help of Inspector Franck Sharko -- a brooding, broken analyst for the Paris police who is exploring the film's connection to five murdered men left in the woods -- Lucie begins to strip away the layers of what is perhaps the most disturbing and powerful film ever made. Soon Sharko and Lucie find themselves mired in a darkness that spreads across politics, religion, science, and art while stretching from France to Canada, Egypt to Rwanda, and beyond. And just who is responsible for this darkness will blow listeners' minds, as Syndrome E forces them to consider: What if the earliest and most brilliant advances and discoveries of neuroscience were not used for good but for evil?



From the library.

Despite the hubbub about this I held off on reading it for the longest time because of all the French names in it.  I actually started with the book and gave up because it was just too frustrating to see an unpronounceable French name, whether belonging to a person or a place, in virtually every sentence.  I'm glad I gave it a second chance though since it turned out to be rather intriguing.

The story was interesting, with plenty of twists and turns, but it wasn't something that really drew me in and made me care about the resolution.  It was more of a mild curiosity than anything.  I probably could have abandoned the book halfway through and had no lingering need to find out the ending.  I was actually surprised by my complete neutrality on this.  The ending, while a surprise, didn't give me that "big reveal" feel and I felt more like "Huh.  Well, whatever." than anything.

I also couldn't have cared less about Lucie or Sharko as people.  There was no emotional connection to the characters and I really didn't care one way or the other what happened to them.  As such there was a sex scene that I gather was supposed to be touching and romantic but really just came across as incredibly awkward.

The only character I did find inspired any sort of emotion was Eugenie.  She was beyond annoying and actually made me want to give up on the book entirely at several points.  I wasn't entirely sure what her purpose was beyond annoying both the Sharko character and the reader.  I was a tiny bit mollified by the resolution of her story arc, but not entirely.

Further issues arose from the fact that this was very clearly a translation with all its attendant issues.  Sayings were translated poorly, such as "son of a dog" instead of "son of a bitch" and so on.  Dates were also pronounced as "May Ten" instead of "May 10th".  It wasn't a huge deal but it was enough to be slightly grating on top of the other concerns. 

I did appreciate that while Americans were mentioned they were not the villains of the story which was a very pleasant change from an international book as most non-American authors seem to be intent on promoting the "all Americans are evil" agenda.

Overall, while this was interesting it wasn't particularly enjoyable but it wasn't bad either.  I still feel completely neutral about it.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but I wouldn't recommend against it either.  If you're looking for a fast paced thriller this is not it but it is still a good quality read.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It



Monday, March 7, 2016

Book Excerpt: The World's Most Haunted Hospitals by Richard Estep

Richard Estep, author of The World’s Most Haunted Hospitals stopped by to share with us an excerpt from his book.






In a dynamic vortex between life and death, a hospital is where people enter this world, and leave it. And, what tales a hospital could tell!

In The World’s Most Haunted Hospitals: True-Life Paranormal Encounters in Asylums, Hospitals, and Institutions, paramedic and paranormal investigator, Richard Estep, researches and recounts chilling stories of hospital hauntings around the world.

Fans of his previous books on hauntings and new readers will turn up the lights, lock the doors and sink into stories of:
  • Frightening apparitions at an old Utah hospital, now a nursing home, whose appearances predict patients’ deaths.
  • A former Kentucky sanatorium haunted by thousands of patients who died there, and some of the nurses who cared for them.
  • Terrifying screams and violent scenes that scare visitors away from an abandoned airbase hospital in the Philippines.
  • A nurse in grey who haunts the corridors of a London hospital and terrifies doctors and nurses who encounter her restless spirit.
The World’s Most Haunted Hospitals is a goosebump-producing ride around the globe, stopping at fascinating old and new hospitals and asylums where doctors, nurses, patients, and others can’t wait to tell of their real-life, alarming encounters with strange and scary specters.



About the author:

Richard Estep has been a paranormal investigator for the past twenty years, and is currently director of the Boulder County Paranormal Research Society. He makes a living as a paramedic chief, clinical educator, and teacher in several EMT and paramedic training programs. When not working or investigating claims of the paranormal, Richard can either be found serving as a volunteer firefighter-paramedic, adding to his vast collection of Star Wars memorabilia and Lego, or working on his next book. He is the author of several books on the subject of ghosts and hauntings, and the “Wellington Undead” series of novels. He lives with his wife Laura in northern Colorado, along with a dog and more rescue cats than their homeowners association would like.



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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Featured Book: I Love Grass by Maria Boston

There are so many things to love about grass.

We can love the way it looks, the way it smells - even the way it changes its green from season to season!


Read on to add to your experiences with grass.


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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Featured Book: Will to Live: A Saga of Survival by Gary Edinger

Gary Edinger came within minutes of dying in the woods of Wisconsin when a logging accident sheared off his left leg below the knee-a predicament compounded by three inescapable facts.

He was alone at the time, it was well below zero and he was almost 20 miles away from emergency services.

How he survived is the centerpiece of the story laid out in this book. But that's not the full story.

Most of Gary's life has been realized in the face of a struggle for survival and, literally, of improving himself, of making a success of things in the face of overwhelming odds.



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Friday, March 4, 2016

Review: Secrets of a Nun by Elizabeth Upton

Secrets of a Nun is an uncompromisingly honest and deeply moving look into one woman’s soul.

At the age of fifteen, Elizabeth, a talented athlete, gives up her dreams of competing in the Olympics to become a nun. Separating from her mother and twin sister, she leaves her friends and her familiar world behind in order to pursue a saintly life.

But she finds herself unprepared for what lies ahead. While her cloistered life commences as a profound spiritual and emotional journey, personal disenchantment takes root, and slowly grows over the next twenty years.

Elizabeth recoils against the restrictive atmosphere of convent life. She struggles with conflicting emotions, until a forbidden love affair forces her to come to grips with her needs as a woman. Over the course of striving to find her real self, she ultimately feels compelled to leave the Order.

This fascinating account of courage and passion is inspired by a true story. It will at once shock you and bring a smile to your face as you follow the course of a young woman’s obsession to become a spiritual seeker—an obsession that, over time, transforms into a deeply felt desire for personal liberation.



Received for review

It may seem odd that I found this as compelling as I did considering my distinct lack of fondness for organized religion but I the author's frank description of her experiences kept me glued to the pages.

While I do not necessarily agree with or condone the author's actions she did detail her thought processes regarding her choices and that helped me to respect at least her truthfulness.

Many of the circumstances she details left me more annoyed with her than anything until I realized that she couldn't actually have any common sense since she had isolated herself so thoroughly from the real world.

Overall, while I may not understand the author's choices this was a very thought provoking and well written book that many who are interested in the personal lives of nuns should find intriguing and I certainly recommend it to those readers.

★★★★ = Really Liked It



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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Review: If I Run by Terri Blackstock

Casey knows the truth.

But it won’t set her free.

Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.



ARC received for review

From the cover description I knew I had to read this since I adore suspense novels and I was quite pleased. The story immediately drew you right in and kept you glued to the pages as you tried to decide whether Casey was guilty or innocent. I also really liked how the narrative switched between Casey and Dylan as well. That gave the reader an interesting perspective and actually made things more rather than less complex and helped to underscore the complicated dynamic between the two.

I genuinely enjoyed the fact that the author did not make it immediately clear whether Casey was a crazy killer or completely innocent. It kept me guessing throughout and really added to the suspense in a Gone Girl sort of way.

The ending was unexpected and really quite refreshing for a book of this type. It was certainly not how I imagined things playing out but I was left quite a bit more satisfied than if they had been resolved the way I'd expected.

What I was not fond of was Casey herself. I wanted to like her, I really did, but she came across rather like the heroine in a Harlequin novel. She was annoying, selfish, and genuinely unlikeable, and I felt absolutely zero sympathy for her during her adventures. Dylan, also, was straight out of a Harlequin novel. He was the dashing former military man - yawn.

Also, what brought this from four stars to three was the author's unusual choice to give the book a religious tone. From the author's notes it's quite clear that the author is a hardcore Christian (the entire four pages mention God, Jesus, and the Bible at least once in every sentence while dismissing evolution and the Big Bang) and she has brought that viewpoint to the book. I felt the references to God and praying in the book to be unnecessary and it really took away from the enjoyment of reading. It was a niggling feature that kept the book from being a real "wow" experience.

Overall, this was a very well thought out and written story with plenty of twists and turns that kept me intrigued but the annoying characters and religiosity kept it from being truly satisfying. I certainly recommend it to those looking for a suspenseful read that will keep you wondering every step of the way.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It



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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Featured Book: Snow Men by Andrew Ceroni

Dave McClure is on a plane to Alaska in early winter, having quit his job with the FBI and turned his back on the world.

It's been a year since the horrific accident that claimed his wife and son, and McClure is still unable to move beyond his grief. Remembering the joy he once shared with his wife on vacation in Alaska, he heads north... seeking solace and resolving to either put his painful past behind him or succumb to the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness. Instead, McClure finds a grisly scene in the forest-the body of a hunter whose throat has been cut ear to ear. And that's only the beginning.

In Snow Men-equal parts international thriller and wilderness survival-McClure uncovers a cache of nuclear weapons and a Russian-Iranian plot to wipe the nation of Israel off the map. With only a hunting rifle, a pistol, and a few days worth of supplies, Dave McClure not only faces Russian Special Forces and the harsh reality of nature, but discovers a will to live he didn't know he still had.

Spanning locales in Alaska, Paris, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Thailand, and Washington, DC, Snow Men is a heart pounding thriller set against the pristine beauty of Alaska's rugged Wrangell-St. Elias wilderness.



About the author:

Award winning author ANDREW CERONI served a distinguished career as a Senior Supervisory Special Agent supporting global counterespionage and antiterrorism operations. Mr. Ceroni grew up in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York on the Hudson River where he attended public schools. He received his B.S. Degree from the U. S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO; his M.A. Degree from Case Western University, Cleveland, OH; and he completed studies in several foreign languages at the University of Maryland, European Division, MD. He is a graduate of numerous federal intelligence and law enforcement training forums. An author of two novels and several short stories, his poetry has also been published in several magazines. He lives in Colorado with his family.



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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Review: The History Major by Michael Phillips Cash

After a vicious fight with her boyfriend followed by a night of heavy partying, college freshman Amanda Greene wakes up in her dorm room to find things are not the same as they were yesterday. She can't quite put her finger on it.

She's sharing her room with a peculiar stranger. Amanda discovers she's registered for classes she would never choose with people that are oddly familiar. An ominous shadow is stalking her.

Uncomfortable memories are bubbling dangerously close to her fracturing world, propelling her to an inevitable collision between fantasy and reality.

Is this the mother of all hangovers or is something bigger happening?



Received for review

I still have no idea what to even think about this. I'm not even entirely sure whether I enjoyed it or not. The story was just so trippy that it made me think I'd stepped inside Tim Burton's head.

I never really grew to like Amanda, but that may have been due to the nature of the story. I also never felt the desire to like her either as I do with most characters I read about. I just didn't care one way or the other.

The story itself was trippy and had a distinct otherworldly feel to it (which the author intended). I can't really say that I liked it but I didn't dislike it either. It was just very strange.

Overall, it's difficult to truly appreciate the weirdness of this until you've read it through but it's certainly worth a try. It's well written and quite thought provoking and I look forward to reading more from the author.

★★★☆☆ = Liked It



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