Book Review–Into the Darkness by V.C. Andrews (Andrew Neiderman)

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This is the 21st book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Into the Darkness by V.C. Andrews (Andrew Neiderman)
Published February 28th, 2012 by Gallery Books

 

Despite the brilliant sunshine, I felt a chill surge through me. I paused and looked at the house next door. Was Brayden just another one of my fantasies?

Bestselling author V.C. Andrews portrays her most romantic couple since Troy and Heaven in the Casteel series…in this twisting tale of desire and obsession, reality and dreams.

As lovely as one of the precious gems at her parents’ jewelry store, Amber Taylor is shy and introspective—qualities misread by others as being stuck-up and superior. Facing a long, lonely summer working at the family shop, Amber’s world lights up when the Matthews family suddenly moves into the house next door, a property that has stood neglected for the longest time.

And when she meets Brayden Matthews, an only child just like her, Amber soon becomes infatuated with this handsome, quirky young man who seems to know her innermost feelings almost before she does, who takes her places she never knew existed in her small town. Their connection is electrifying, unlike anything Amber’s felt before. But as quickly as he appears, Brayden vanishes into the darkness. And finding out the truth about him will push Amber Taylor to the edge of madness….

An atmospheric journey of passion and suspense that builds to a jolting, unforgettable finale, Into the Darkness showcases V.C. Andrews at her best.

 

 

 

————-

I’m a big fan of VCA novels. Well, at least I was until the most recent Neiderman books. I’m still trying to give new books a fair chance. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Plot:

The plot doesn’t make a ton of sense. It had great potential, but just fell really short. I felt like the author wasn’t sure where to go so he would quickly abandon one idea and switch to something else. That’s how it felt, anyway.

Setting:

This is one of the few things that I actually liked. The setting was neat. Little community with a close-knit neighborhood yet still had nature surrounding it? Sign me up. I’d love to be able to walk to town within minutes as well!

Characters:

None of the characters, except perhaps Amber’s parents, were well fleshed out.

I wanted to like Amber so bad but she just kept rubbing me the wrong way. She was all right in the beginning–minus the describing everything in jewel-tones/jewelry terms–but it didn’t take long for her to start wearing on my nerves. Mostly her obsessing over the same old things and acting in unexpected ways without an explanation is what did it for me.

Brayden wasn’t any more likable. His presence and behavior was confusing, even once the ending sinks in.

Surprisingly Shayne (who the hell uses that spelling, anyway?) was likable for a little bit but then for whatever reason he starts acting really weird as well.

Conclusion: I don’t like any of these people and don’t care what happens to them.

Relationships:

This book was touted as being the best love story since Heaven and Troy. Ha. What? Did we read the same book? While there was one scene in which Amber and Brayden had great chemistry, for the most part it fell flat. It certainly wasn’t even a quarter of the romance portrayed by Heaven and Troy in Dark Angel. Their relationship didn’t make me feel anything.

I liked Shayne and Amber’s relationship somewhat better until things fell apart. Though the third person thing did get on my nerves after a while.

In a way I liked the relationship Amber had with her parents, but in another sometimes they acted really strange with her as well.

Writing/Voice:

It seems that each time I pick up a new VCA novel, the writing gets worse. I couldn’t even feel sorry for Amber at all–that’s how little I cared for her POV. I’m glad the jewelry term descriptions stopped after the first chapter, though. It would have been very annoying if that had continued. So I guess that’s a plus.

Ending:

I already knew this was a ghost story, so the twist wasn’t really much of one for me. Even though I didn’t really much care for this book at all, the ending seemed very “Meh.”

Overall:

Had potential and a great setting, but I couldn’t care for any of the characters, relationships, or writing. I found the book to be boring for the most part.

 

1star

 

 

 

 

jncname

Book Review–The In-Between by Barbara Stewart

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This is the 20th book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

The In-Between by Barbara Stewart
Published November 5th, 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin

 

When Elanor’s near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by bold, beautiful Madeline, she finds her life quickly spiraling out of control

Fourteen-year-old Elanor Moss has always been an outcast who fails at everything she tries—she’s even got the fine, white scars to prove it. Moving was supposed to be a chance at a fresh start, a way to leave behind all the pain and ugliness of her old life. But, when a terrible car accident changes her life forever, her near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by Madeline Torus . . .

Madeline is everything Elanor isn’t: beautiful, bold, brave. She is exactly what Elanor has always wanted in a best friend and more—their connection runs deeper than friendship. But Madeline is not like other girls, and Elanor has to keep her new friend a secret or risk being labeled “crazy.” Soon, though, even Elanor starts to doubt her own sanity. Madeline is her entire life, and that life is drastically spinning out of control. Elanor knows what happens when your best friend becomes your worst enemy. But what happens when your worst enemy is yourself?

With her debut novel, The In-Between, Barbara Stewart presents a bold new voice in teen fiction.

 

 

————-

Plot:

The plot is very unique and has a definite creepy feeling. I had a good guess at what was going on a few chapters before it was confirmed, but it was still a very neat angle. I liked that the book seemed to be going in one direction only to completely change gears.

Setting:

Most of the book takes place in Ellie’s new house, though the town itself vaguely reminds me of the town I grew up in. The house felt very realistic, as well as what parts of the town were seen through Ellie’s eyes.

Characters:

It was very easy to connect and feel for the main character, Ellie. I’m still unsure on whether what happened was actually something supernatural or all inside her head. She was definitely flawed, which is a plus because sometimes it feels like not too many main characters have flaws. She felt very real.

I also felt that Madeline was an interesting character, though she felt more real in the beginning.

Aside from Ellie, I liked Audrey.

Ellie’s mother was also very far from perfect and while a few things about her annoyed me, I liked that she was pretty imperfect as well.

The only characters who didn’t seem well fleshed out are most of the external ones (kids at school, the shrink, and the dad) but in a way, it kind of makes sense that they aren’t.

Relationships:

The most intriguing relationship is that between Ellie and Madeline. While it seemed a little odd at first, when things started to make more sense, it got pretty interesting.

I also enjoyed Ellie’s relationship with her mother, and how it contrasted with that of her father.

Her friendship with Audrey was also interesting. Even though Audrey was definitely weird, she fit better with Ellie than any of the other friends Ellie had.

Writing/Voice:

The writing style was very enjoyable and went well with the atmosphere of the book. It was so easy to get lost in Ellie’s thoughts that sometimes I forgot I was reading someone’s words and not hearing their thoughts.

Ending:

The twist was a nice touch. I thought I had the ending figured out until then. In a way it was kind of sad, but it fit very well with the overall story. It was also kind of ironic in a way.

Overall:

Definitely a very easy book to get lost in, with a nice creepy atmosphere and intriguing plot. Not quite horror, but blurs the line between horror, fantasy, and reality.

 

4stars

 

 

 

jncname

What I’m Working On: March 2015

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Hey guys. So during the second week of March, my two-year-old Toshiba laptop died. And since it was going to cost half of what it cost to repair it (and a repair that wouldn’t guarantee more damage in the future), my fiance’ decided to get me a MacBook Air. Did I mention he’s the greatest?

Thankfully I’d thought to send the newest version of Our Reasons to myself via e-mail. Since we’re going to need an adapter to get my data off the computer. I’ve also thankfully sent The Birthday Bash to friends so I have a copy in my sent folder so I can work on the re-write/edit as planned for Camp NaNo, which is in a week and a few days.

Last Wednesday was #PitMad. I had a ton of fun with it and there were many cool entries. I probably retweeted about twenty or more, and mostly from people I’d never met. I also had five agents/agencies favorite mine. So far I’ve heard from three. Two rejections and one request for more pages. I’ve sent the pages. Fingers crossed!

If I don’t hear back in a few weeks, I plan to start querying. I’ve already got a list of agents/agencies to start with. If nothing comes of it, then I will post the entire story to Swoon Reads.

Other than that, I’ve started editing/re-writing Creeper. I’m thinking that the entire story collection will be finished by late August or early September. Hopefully. It’s a busy year for me–my fiance’ and I are looking into moving from our apartment, buying a home, and getting married later on in the year so it will definitely be interesting.

Next month Camp NaNo starts. I’m re-writing and editing The Birthday Bash so I can enter it into the next Twitter contest and also have another book to query. I can’t wait. It might be one of my favorites. During the month of April, I will only be posting Camp NaNo updates and book reviews so I can spend more time writing. Book vs Movie will resume in May. Hopefully I’ll have seen more movies by then.

Until next time!

 

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes

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This is the 19th book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
Published December 31st, 2001 by Dial Books

 

When Wesley Boone writes a poem for his high school English class, some of his classmates clamor to read their poems aloud too. Soon they’re having weekly poetry sessions and, one by one, the eighteen students are opening up and taking on the risky challenge of self-revelation.

There’s Lupe Alvarin, desperate to have a baby so she will feel loved. Raynard Patterson, hiding a secret behind his silence. Porscha Johnson, needing an outlet for her anger after her mother OD’s. Through the poetry they share and narratives in which they reveal their most intimate thoughts about themselves and one another, their words and lives show what lies beneath the skin, behind the eyes, beyond the masquerade.

 

 

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Plot:

The plot reminds me a bit of The Freedom Writer’s Diary, only it’s about a class of kids who do slam poetry based on their life experiences. It’s done in different POVs, which was a little confusing at first but ended up being neat. Often each POV would end with that character’s poetry reading.

Setting:

The setting is not really mentioned too often, just hints to give away that it’s an area that’s either in or near the city and can be dangerous in certain areas. It would have been nice to have a little more insight to the area and how it affected the kids.

Characters:

There’s several different POVs of kids from all backgrounds and races, each going through their own situations. The book is pretty short so only a glimpse of their lives are given, but I felt they were well fleshed out not only from their POV but also from their poems. I especially liked Tyrone, Lupe, Janelle, and Devon.

Relationships:

Not really many romantic relationships to speak of, but some of the friend relationships were interesting. I particularly liked the one between Leslie and Porscha. All of the kids seem to come to an understanding that there is more to each of them than meets the eye.

Writing/Voice:

The writing took a little getting used to at first, but once I got into it, it was a fast and enjoyable read. There are several POVs going on, along with poems written by the different kids. For the most part they sound like they are from different kids.

Ending:

The book felt like it ended a little abruptly, but I liked the positive ending.

Overall:

Fast read with a good message, especially for those in high school. Fans of the freedom writers, positive educational stories, and slam poetry will probably enjoy this one. The only drawback I saw was that it’s really short.

 

 

3stars

 

 

 

jncname

Book Review–Rosa Parks: A Life by Douglas G. Brinkley

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This is the 18th book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Rosa Parks: A Life by Douglas G. Brinkley
Published 2000 by Turtleback Books

 

Most Americans know her only as the 42-year-old seamstress who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus. Her quiet act of defiance is often considered the beginning of the modern civil rights movement, but historian Douglas Brinkley reminds us that it was neither the beginning nor the end of Rosa Parks’s quest for justice.

On that fateful day in 1955 she was already a veteran civil rights activist, married to a charter member of the NAACP’s Montgomery chapter, and a devout member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the many black churches whose congregants organized and fought to desegregate the South. Brinkley gives a thorough account of Parks’s political life in the South and in Detroit (where she moved in 1957 to escape death threats), capturing her majestic personal dignity.

Yet he also places her activism within a vivid historical context, anchored by extensive interviews with her peers and Parks herself as well as scholarly research. His subject is now a frail octogenarian, but Brinkley conveys the power of her legacy in a moving final scene when Nelson Mandela, just four months out of a South African jail in 1990, embraces Parks as a comrade and a beloved mentor.

 

————-

I’ve always admired Rosa Parks, though I knew very little about her life aside from the bus boycott, and I didn’t even know all the details of that. This book does a great job filling in the details of how she came to that point in her life, the people who inspired her along the way, and also the activism as well as her life after.

Those who love detailed history will like this book. There was so much detail and facts that I felt like a lot of it went over my head, but I learned some very interesting things about Rosa Parks and the entire movement that I didn’t know before. I definitely have even more respect for her now.

Not something I would probably re-read as I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction, but definitely a great reference book to keep on hand.

 

3stars

 

 

 

jncname

Book Review–When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

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This is the 17th book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

12022765When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
Published May 1st, 2012 by Simon Pulse

 

An intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told—narrated by the girl Romeo was supposed to love.

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy…and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends.

 

 

————-

**The following review may contain some spoilers***

Plot:

The plot is basically a modern re-telling of Romeo and Juliet, only from Rosaline’s POV. If you don’t remember, she was the woman Romeo claimed to love before he met Juliet. The plot itself is realistic, and made me feel like I was back in high school even though my experience with it was much different than Rosie’s. Still. For the most part, I enjoyed the plot, though it seemed to drag near the end.

Setting:

The setting is in mostly sunny California, and was super easy to picture. I liked that the characters had regular spots they liked to hang out, which brought even more realism to the story.

Characters:

Rosaline was a very easy character to like and sympathize with. I felt terrible for her throughout most of the book. I felt happy and excited when she did. I wanted to see her happy, even though I knew tragedy was looming up ahead.

I liked her girl friends, Charlie and Olivia. Especially Charlie, who’s tough and kind of demanding, but definitely has a big heart. Olivia had some great comic relief but seemed genuinely sweet.

I liked Rob well enough until he put Rosaline’s heart through the ringer. He could have made his new relationship so much easier on the girl he supposedly used to love, but he didn’t. It was hard to feel sorry for him later on, at least until the “secret” gets spilled.

As for Len, I adored him pretty much from the moment we met him. He had much more personality than Rob and I was hoping him and Rosaline would get closer.

I liked Rosaline’s parents, who seemed real and down-to-earth. It would have been nice to see more scenes with them.

Juliet was awful. Even when I learned about the “secret” and her reasons for hating Rosaline, I still didn’t like her. There was no excuse for some of the things she did to Rosaline. The barbie scene especially comes to mind.

Overall, all of the characters felt realistic and were fun reading about.

Relationships:

Rosaline and Rob were kinda cute, but never felt “destined” to be for me. Still, I felt awful for the girl when it didn’t work out. Her emotions were realistic. Especially once the tragedy occurred. I would have probably blamed myself as well.

I liked Rosaline and Len’s relationship better. They were adorable and every scene between them was full of chemistry. Much more interesting than “Romeo” any day.

Rosaline’s relationship with her friends was fun and felt real, especially when one of them was going through something difficult. Charlie breaking down in the car was the one that gripped me the most, as well as when Charlie later returns the favor for Rosaline after the tragedy.

I also liked Rosaline’s relationship with her parents. It’s always nice to see YA where the kids and the parents actually get along and are realistic about it. My only gripe is that I wish they had been a little more prevalent in the book.

The relationship between Juilet and Rosaline seemed a little extreme at times, though the kitchen scene helped. Juliet is painted as the evil cousin who steals Rosaline’s boyfriend away. While she did seem to go after Rob even though she knew he was more than friends with Rosaline, I wish he would have been blamed just as much for the relationship happening to begin with.

Writing/Voice:

The writing and voice was very easy to get into. This book was a little hard to put down at times.

Ending:

The ending is sweet, but somehow felt a bit out of place after the tragedy. I like that it ended with a new direction of life for Rosaline, but the entire ending just seemed a little off. Maybe it’s because it pretty much skips from the tragedy to the ending.

Overall:

This was a really good story, with great characters and intriguing relationships. The only thing that keeps me from rating it 5 stars is a few instances of slut-shaming (by the friends in conversation), as well as Rob not getting nearly as much heat for his part on the relationship (Juliet didn’t just force him to be with her against her will, you know). I’m getting tired of seeing the slut-shaming thrown around in books, even if it seems realistic.

 

4stars

 

 

jncname

Books in February

First off–exciting news. After my fiance’ and I learned that it would cost about half of what we originally paid for my computer to repair it, he decided to get me a Macbook air instead. I had a Macbook pro a few years back and grew up with a Powermac, so I’ve always liked Macs a bit better. We’ve had it a few days but I’m still getting things set up and getting used to a smaller screen size and the Mac vs. Windows feel.

Blog posts should be back to normal now. I’m going to start this week off with a post about the books I read in February. Since we were sick the entire month of Feb, the pictures like I did for January’s books got postponed. But here they are now!

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My reading goal for 2015 is to read 115 books. In February, I read eight books. I read ten back in January. So far, I’m doing pretty great with my goal. Here’s what I read last month.

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Favorites: Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone & When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle.

Least Liked: The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard

jncname

I’ve Got Some Bad News…and More Bad News

 

Something terrible has happened. PitMad is in three days, my re-write of Creeper was going great, and then the internal power port on my two-year-old Toshiba decided to die. My battery is at 14% with no way to charge it. I took it to Best Buy Geek Squad earlier to be told that it is going to have to be shipped off and will take 2-3 weeks to fix. Awesome.

I haven’t decided whether to get the computer repaired or if I should get a new model. This computer has been giving me a lot of trouble over the last six or seven months. Sadly I have no other computer I can reliably blog or write on. I do have the Kindle Fire, but it is very difficult to write on it. So for now, the blog will have to go on a hiatus. I apologize for the inconvenience and hope you’ll stick around. Hopefully I will get things resolved soon. Battery now at 12%. :(

 

jncname

The Book vs the Movie: Divergent

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divergent-title

Book written by Veronica Roth, 2011
Movie directed by Neil Burger, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads.com:

 

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

 

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

VS

Picture Source: IMDB.com

Picture Source: IMDB.com

 

Which I Viewed First: The book.

Which I Enjoyed Most: The book.

Out of 5 stars, the Book Gets: 5 stars.

Out of 5 stars, the Movie Gets: 3 stars.

Things the Book Did Better: More details regarding the plot and back story, better character development, scenes with death and betrayal were deeper.

Things the Movie Did Better:  Shailene Woodley did a good job with Tris’ character, was nice to see the action scenes played out. The capture the flag scene was entertaining to watch, as was the testing scenes.

Verdict?: Book.

Why?: While the movie wasn’t bad, it didn’t make me feel as deeply as the book. Not with the characters, stories, or most of the scenes. Especially the latter scene with Al. I’ll probably still watch Insurgent after it comes out and I’ve read the book, though.

Should the movie be re-made?: Nah.

What do you think? Agree, disagree? Would love to hear your thoughts!

 

jncname

Book Review–Stalker Girl by Rosemary Graham

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This is the 16th book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.

 

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Picture Source: Goodreads.com

Stalker Girl by Rosemary Graham
Published August 5th, 2010 by Viking Juvenile

 

Carly never meant to become a stalker. She just wanted to find out who Brian started dating after he dumped her. But a little harmless online research turns into a quick glance, and that turns into an afternoon of watching. Soon Carly is putting all of her energy into following Brian’s new girlfriend–all of the sadness she feels about her mom’s recent breakup, all of the anger she feels over being pushed aside by her dad while he prepares for his new wife/s new baby. When Carly’s stalking is discovered in the worst possible way by the worst possible person, she is forced to acknowledge her problem and the underlying issues that led to it.

 

 

————-

Plot:

A plot I haven’t really seen in YA before, especially from a girl protagonist. There were a few times in which I was confused, but overall it worked. It went from the present to the past, then slowly moved back to the present, then back to more of the past. I wasn’t expecting any of it though, so it was a nice surprise. I tended to like the beginning and middle of the book better than the last part. It was harder to sympathize with Carly as the plot got more crazy.

Setting:

The setting was very easy to picture, even though I have never been to New York. The camp was also easy to imagine. It felt very realistic and I grew to love seeing New York from Carly’s eyes.

Characters:

Carly was an easy character to like and sympathize with for a while. I know what it’s like to have your heart broken and to be ignored. I also know what it’s like to have a broken family. And I can see how all of these events contributed to her crazy, compulsive behavior. It got a little harder feeling sorry for her as she went off the deep end, but I still cared about what happened to her in the end.

Though I wanted to hate the love interest for breaking Carly’s heart, it was hard for the most part because he was very likable. I could also see why he would fall for his new girlfriend, who seemed like a really nice person.

I also liked Jess and Nick. I didn’t care as much for Carly’s parents, who felt a bit aloof, but they seemed to have their own worlds they were involved in.

I found Val to be kind of annoying and didn’t really understand why she was Carly’s best friend at times. The relationship purging was a good idea, but I could also see why Carly wouldn’t be so open with her.

Relationships:

The relationships were really well done for the most part. Especially in the case of Carly and Brian. Their relationship was believable and also made Carly’s inability to let go more understandable than if we hadn’t been shown it. It made me sad that things didn’t work out for Carly and Brian until Carly began to get a little too obsessive over his fame and exposure to other people.

I also really liked her relationship with Jess and Nick. Her relationship with her parents seemed to be more strained, though I don’t blame her in her mother’s case.

Writing/Voice:

The only thing I disliked was when the author would sometimes talk directly to the reader. Other than that, I enjoyed it a lot and easily got swept up into the beginning and especially the middle. The last part was harder. It felt kind of stiff.

Ending:

I didn’t like how the details of Carly’s “punishment” got glossed over. They almost felt like an afterthought. I did like how Carly seemed to be moving in a new direction, though.

Overall:

Very riveting read with deep emotions and relationships. Also shows how easily things can get out of hand and how stalking is not okay. I could see myself reading it again in the future.

 

 

3halfstars

 

 

jncname
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