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Audiobook Review – A Second Chance – Jodi Taylor

Audies nominee paranormal

a second chanceA Second Chance
Author: Jodi Taylor
Series: #3 in the The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series
Rating: 3.5 stars

Narrator: Zara Ramm
Run Time: 9hrs 14 min
Narration Rating: 4 stars

Description:
St Mary’s is back and nothing is going right for Max. Once again, it’s just one damned thing after another. The action jumps from an encounter with a mirror-stealing Isaac Newton to the bloody battlefield at Agincourt. Discover how a simple fact-finding assignment to witness the ancient and murderous cheese- rolling ceremony in Gloucester can result in CBC – concussion by cheese. The long awaited jump to Bronze Age Troy ends in personal catastrophe for Max and just when it seems things couldn’t get any worse – it’s back to the Cretaceous Period again to confront an old enemy who has nothing to lose. So, make the tea, grab the chocolate biscuits, settle back and discover exactly why the entire history department has painted itself blue …

Review:
Oh where to begin, of the 6 books nominated for the paranormal category for the Audies, this is the one I was probably looking forward to the most. I’m a huge fan of time travel type stories (i mean, my addiction started with Outlander like 15 years ago), so when I was reading the description I was sucked in. From the get-go, A Second Chance was a roller coaster right of history, funny and educational at the same time. I could tell that the author had a passion for it because of not only the general history that most people know about different time periods, but all the other random factoids – like Cheese Rolling (yes, you read that right, Cheese Rolling!) And better yet, Cheese Rolling STILL EXISTS! Yes, I want to try it! (5 absurd food-based sports you couldn’t even make up”).

One of the things I enjoyed the most about the book was that Max and her folks didn’t try to change history, but were rather there to just observe it. It made it more enjoyable because you knew that none of the actions of the teams from St. Mary’s were going to change how the Battle of Agincourt played out, or what Newton did…I think if I had found myself in the same situation, it would have been hard to not want to change things, especially if you knew something bad was going to happen…so the fact that the historical encounters in the book were solely fact gathering missions made it intriguing to me. I starting thinking about where would I love to visit, if I was given the opportunity to travel back in time and honestly, its still up in the air. I’m going to have to think about it and who knows, maybe when I go back and listen to the rest of the series, since I will be doing that, maybe a trip will really spark my interest.

Zara Ramm was a new to me narrator, but I can safely save (as with several other narrators nominated in the paranormal category), it won’t be my last time listening to her. In fact, I’ve already purchased the first book in this series, as well as several freebies that are available (what can I say, I only have a slight problem with freebies)…i think one of the good things about how well her narration tied into the novel was that it was told from a female POV, so having one who was well modulated and articulate (as Max was, since she is a historian and a department leader) worked well. There were times during the narration I was laughing so hard at the antics of Max and her crew (and no, not just the cheese rolling), that I thought I was going to have to pull the car over so as to avoid an accident.

If you are interested in a comedic romp through history with a well-meaning but slightly disaster bound historian, then this series may be one for you. I do recommend not drinking while listening however, as you may find that you need to purchase a new computer monitor (or similar). 3.5 stars for the book and 4 stars for the narration.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Audies, Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Chasing Desire – Joya Ryan

chasing desireChasing Desire
Author: Joya Ryan
Series: #3 in the Chasing Love series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
It’s her best friend’s wedding, and Autumn Lane is trussed up in a pink bridesmaid dress with a big “everything is great” smile plastered across her face. She’s not going think about her life imploding, or spending the next two weeks housesitting in the ridiculously small town of Diamond. No, she’d rather think about the tattooed hottie in the wedding party…and how to turn the wicked way he’s looking at her into a night of intense pleasure.

Huck Galvin is fiercely attracted to his mystery woman’s no-BS attitude, but their one-night-no-strings plan backfires when Huck discovers that Autumn is the out-of-towner he’s “chaperoning” for the next two weeks. Outside the bedroom, the two can’t stand each other, yet Huck can’t deny how much he wants one more night with her. But Autumn isn’t going to make it easy for Huck. Not by a long shot…

Review:
I had an unplanned day off work today (thank you 6″ of snow and the Federal Gov’t closing), so in typical fashion after shoveling myself out of my driveway, I jumped in the car and headed out for a pedicure, kindle in hand with Joya Ryan’s new book just sitting there waiting to be read. Yes, I am that kind of dork when it comes to reading! So I settled in to get my pedicure, opened my kindle and was sucked into Huck and Autumn (Auto’s) story. I’d read the first book in the series previously (although not the second), so I knew the context in which the opening scenes took place (and while I think this could easily be read as a stand-alone – knowing the previous couples in the series is also advantageous).

Ms Ryan has a very smooth but energetic way of story-telling – you find yourself sucked into the story, clicking away one page/screen at a time, and before I knew it, I was over 3/4 of the way done (thankfully, I still had to wait for my toe nails to finish drying, so I could finish reading before I left). but I’m sure no one wants to read about my adventures in pedicures (although I will admit picking a nail polish can be kind of an adventure) ;) So on to the book…

Where to begin…I loved Autumn as a character, she was kick-ass and thankfully didn’t have any TSTL moments (to stupid to live) like many heroines in romances nowadays. Her job as a mechanic was something different (I can only think of one other romance featuring a female mechanic right now (Start Me Up – Victoria Dahl) – although plenty of ones with male mechanics (maybe because the visual of a grimy, sweaty man just makes hearts go aflutter). And you could tell that the author had done her research and Autumn was believable in how she presented herself – her job wasn’t just in the story as a place-holder/in the background – it was an active part in moving the plot and relationship between her and Hank forward. Seriously, I mean, not many women (at least that i know) would grab tools on the day of a friends wedding (while she is supposed to be getting ready) to fix something that needed fixing…I’m just sayin’

And then there was Huck…ok, so yeah, the name threw me at the beginning because it just seemed to out of left field – I mean, I was having visions of Huckleberry Finn at times, and not the tattooed/pierced bad boy he was. While he was presented in a very visual way, I do wish some more of him as a person was developed – there were some great one-liners with him and his father about his lack of mechanical skills (even if he could build anything else) – and I felt the lose that he suffered, that made him part of the curmudgeon that he could be seen as being early on in the story.

As with my previous books i’ve read by her, one of Ms Ryan’s strengths is the secondary characters who appear in the town. I particularly liked Huck’s father and you could see from his characterization how much he loved his son/wanted to see him be happy. I also liked seeing Jenna and Colt (from bk 1 again); and now I want to go back and read book 2 for Penny and Sebastian’s story. if you want a fun, smexy, mostly-angst free contemporary romance, I highly recommend Joya Ryan’s Chasing love series. 4 stars

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Virtue Falls – Christina Dodd

virtue fallsVirtue Falls
Author: Christina Dodd
Series: #1 in the Virtue Falls series
Rating: ☆ ☆

Narrator: Rebecca Solar
Run Time: 16hrs 22min

Review Audiobook Provided by Publisher

Description:
Twenty-three years ago, in the isolated coastal town of Virtue Falls, Washington, four year old Elizabeth Banner witnessed her mother’s brutal murder. Elizabeth’s father was convicted of killing Misty and sentenced to prison. Elizabeth was sent to live with relatives, and grew from a solitary child to a beautiful woman with a cool scientific mind and an instinctive distrust of love. Now Elizabeth is back in Virtue Falls, a geologist like her father, living cautiously, her life guided by logic and facts. But nothing can help her through the emotional chaos that follows the return of her ex-husband, Garik Jacobsen, an FBI agent on probation and tortured by the guilt of his past deeds. Nor can it help her deal with her father, now stricken with Alzheimer’s and haunted by Misty’s ghost. When a massive earthquake reveals long-concealed secrets, Elizabeth soon discovers her father is innocent. Is the killer still at large, stalking ever closer to the one witness to Misty’s murder? To Elizabeth herself? Elizabeth and Garik investigate, stirring old dark and deadly resentments that could provoke another bloody murder– Elizabeth’s own.

Review:
For as long as I have been reading romance and romantic suspense, I’m honestly surprised that I have never read a Christina Dodd book. Unfortunately, based on my experience with Virture Falls, I will be hesitant to pick up another one by her in the future. I actually listened to this book several months ago, but its taken me this long to try and get my thoughts in line to write my review, because my issues with the book, far outweigh the positives, which is unfortunately, because based on the book description, i was hoping for a solid romantic suspense read/listen.

This book is a case where the blurb doesn’t really match how the story plays outs. Based on it, I was expecting a romantic suspense mystery with a serial killer theme – unfortunately, that is not what I got. Instead a majority of the book focused on a natural disaster (earthquake) and the subsequent recovery of the town. The murder theme was a distance second to the disaster theme in the story and that was a disappointment to me. The prologue of the story was suitably dark based on the description, and i thought, ohhh good, setting up for a good story. Looking back now, I almost wish that I had put the audiobook aside and not finished it, rather than continuing to trudge through – but I did so, mostly because I didn’t have any other audiobooks lined up for my commute and (as bad as this sounds), it fit into several different reading challenges.

I spent probably about 95% of the book wanting to slap Elizabeth (the main female character upside the head) – she was supposed to be really smart (on the Academic front) – but when it came to common sense – it was like it was Gone with the Wind. She put herself into situations, all in the name of her studies, that a sane person wouldn’t. And yes, I know, in order to make it big in science there have to be risks, but these were just dumb – going places without letting someone know where you are heading after a major natural disaster type things. She just ugh!

And then there was Garik – while I admit that I liked him more that Elizabeth – but that doesn’t say much. I found him to be a fairly underdeveloped character. There was a lot of stuff going on with him in the background of the story (much of which was mentioned in his introduction) and then it was just like all of his issues disappeared the minute Elizabeth (his ex-wife) may have needed him (or at least so he thought) – he just went running to her. I will admit that he and their relationship made the story slightly more paletable (if the book was supposed to be more of a romance than a mystery).

With all my issues with the plot, if the narrator had been solid, it might have made the audio version more paletable – However, I had issues with her narration as well. While her female voice narrations were solid and easily distinguishable – her male narration was a struggle and it made me cringe in places. My other complaint was during the times when Elizabeth was in full-on academic mode (during some of the observation scenes) – instead of a serious academic, she sounded almost like a tabloid reporter with a new hot tip. It was just too much. However, this was my first experience listening to Ms Solar and I would like to try listening to her narrate a different book or genre.

Overall, I gave both the book and the narration 2 stars and while I’ll likely try the narrator again, I’m less sure about the author, unless I get a serious endorsement from a fellow reader who I follow/trust when it comes to recommendations.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Audiobook Review

 

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Audiobook Review – Murder in Murray Hill – Victoria Thompson

murder in murray hillMurder in Murray Hill
Author: Victoria Thompson
Series: #16 in the Gaslight Mystery series

Narrator: Suzanne Toren
Run Time: 9hrs 4min

Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Audiobook Publisher

Description:
Frank Malloy has never known any life other than that of a cop, but his newfound inheritance threatens his position within his department. While trying to keep both his relationship with Sarah and his fortune under wraps, he’s assigned to a new case—finding a missing young woman for her worried father, Henry Livingston.

It seems the girl had been responding to “lonely hearts” ads in the paper for months before she disappeared. Her father thinks that she’s eloped with a deceptive stranger, but Malloy fears the worst, knowing that the grifters who place such ads often do much more than simply abscond with their victims. But as Sarah and Malloy delve deeper into a twisted plot targeting the city’s single women, it’s their partnership—both professional and private—that winds up in the greatest peril…

Review:
I’m honestly trying to remember what caught my eye about this series and made me want to pick it up. I *think* it was because I needed a book with a certain word in the title, and one of the previous books worked and I kind of got hooked. So when I saw that Recorded Books had one of the entries in the series available as a review audiobook, I was intrigued. I had previously only read the books, so while I was familiar with the series, I’d never listened to them and the narrator was also new to me.

As with previous books in the series, while some stuff occurs in each book that may provide spoilers for earlier books, you can (or at least in my opinion), jump around fairly easily from book to book skipping if need be (depending on availability). Case in point, prior to this book (#16 in the series), the most recent one I had was #10 in the series (Murder on Bank Street). But aside from more personal elements of the story (between Sarah and Frank), I didn’t feel like I was missing all that much. The mystery aspect was solid as with my previous experience with the series – I liked the topic that the author chose to tackle because its one that is still prevalent in society today (but did you really think I was going to tell you what that it?). And while I had a pretty solid idea of the who done it, how everything played out had a few twists and turns that I didn’t expect.

On the audiobook front, the narrator, Suzanne Toren was a new narrator to me and aside from one irksome thing, was a solid narrator. I thought that she had a good range of voices/voice distinction for the different characters. The narration was neither too quiet nor too loud (meaning that I didn’t need to adjust the volume in my car as I was listening to counter issues like that (which I have had to do in the past). My biggest issue with the narration, and it goes back to one of the characterizations, was the portions where a little child (about 4-5 in the book) was speaking. This part of the narration felt forced and not at all childlike (as I would expect) – but it seemed as though the narrator was trying (which IMHO made it worse). I think in this instance, I would have preferred to just have the child portions spoken naturally and let it flow, rather than the jarring/disjointed portions that I felt like I was experiencing. But at the same time, I don’t know if my issue with the minor portion of the child’s narration would preclude me from either listening to this narrator again or listening to the book series later on (if need be).

Overall, I gave the story 4 stars and the narration 3 stars, for 3.5 average. I’d recommend this series to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries with a touch of police procedural or medical info (as the main character is a midwife – although that doesn’t always take center stage in the stories).

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Audiobook Review

 

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Review – Fire Me Up – Kimberly Kincaid

fire me upFire Me Up
Author: Kimberly Kincaid
Series: #4 in the Pine Mountain Series

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
Teagan O’Malley can handle a crisis. She’s a paramedic, it’s her job. But she never expected to land in the kitchen of her father’s pub, with no notice, no cash, and no room for error. The kitchen is not her favorite place. Lucky for her, she just scraped a bad-boy chef off the pavement after a motorcycle accident—and something about him says he can turn up the heat in more ways than one.

Adrian Holt has had a rough few years, and he’s not eager to get tangled up in anything more complicated than a good risotto. But with a broken arm and a head full of bad memories, he needs a challenge to keep him sane. Teagan’s dare-me attitude and smoldering mess of a bar are just what the doctor ordered. And the two of them together might cook up some even better medicine…

Review:
I love finding authors who have a good backlist so that I can glom on their books (and yes, glom is a legit word, at least in my world). Prior to reading the Pine Mountain series (where I read all 4 books in the space of about 2 weeks), my only other experience with Ms Kincaid’s writing was in an anthology with a prequel story to pine mountain – and while I remember enjoying it – I remember one of the other stories more vividly (I mean, who can forgot anatomically correct cookies…). But that being said, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms Kincaid at an author/reader luncheon that was held in DC a few months ago and after that I experience, I knew I was going to be in for a ride with her books. But i’m not going to rave about the previous books in the series (all of which were solid 3.5 to 4 star reads for me), but about the most recent one that is officially due out in the next week or so (and I tell you, having read it a month ago, I’ve been on pins and needles waiting until I could recommend it to people).

But back to Fire Me Up – if you have read the previous 3 books in the series, you will be familiar with Adrian – he has made an appearance in all of the books so far – from the Turn Up The Heat (book 1), where he mentored/coached Bellamy into a career that she loved cooking; and the 2nd book (Gimme Some Sugar) where he is the stoic Sous Chef for the former Celebrity Chef, Carly. But in Fire Me Up, he finally gets his turn and it didn’t disappoint. I love it when an author takes a character out of their element (in Adrian’s case, the kitchen) and tries to make them cope and how sometimes that works, but for the most part it doesn’t. I kind of had an idea about what Adrian’s rought few years entailed, but seeing how it all played out, it felt believable and not to manufactured (as sometimes dark pasts can be).

I’ll admit that I was a bit conflicted about Teagan at first – mostly because I didn’t quite buy the, oh my family is having issues, I need a leave of absence from work part of the story (or that is roughly how it played out). Maybe it can be done, but I don’t know – it just kind of hit me wrong. But as a character, I liked her, she did have a few dumb moments where I wanted to slap her – but not to the extent that I have wanted to do to other characters in different books. I really liked how she was able to calm/deal with Adrian without infantalizing him, which seems to be a common issue in romance novels when the hero has an issue.

I was glad to revisit Pine Mountain, but i’m going to be sad to see the series end in the next year (because I think there is only like 1 full-length novel and maybe a novella remaining). I would recommend Fire Me Up for people who like sweet/sassy contemporary romance with mostly normal people; and those who like romance novels with a small-town feel (although, personally, I’m coining the Pine Mountain series, Resort Romance). I gave Fire Me Up 4 stars and look forward to reading even more by Ms. Kincaid in the future.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Book Review

 

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Review – It’s a Wonderful Fireman – Jennifer Bernard

it's a wonderful firemanIt’s a Wonderful Fireman
Author: Jennifer Bernard
Series: #6.5 in The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description (Goodreads):
Hard-edged fireman Dean Mulligan has never been a big fan of Christmas. Twinkly lights and sparkly tinsel can’t brighten the memories of too many years spent in ramshackle foster homes. Although he’s established himself as one of the top firefighters at San Gabriel Station 1, he doesn’t think he’s good enough for someone like gorgeous Lizzie.

Lizzie Breen is used to fighting—from her alpha male brothers, who try to smother her in the name of safety, to the life-threatening childhood illness she overcame. She knows what she and Mulligan feel for each other is a lot more than a fling, but she can’t get him to see that. The only gift Lizzie wants to give him this season is her love, but he’s not willing to accept it.

When Mulligan is trapped in the burning wreckage of a holiday store, a Christmas angel arrives to open his eyes. But is it too late? This Christmas, it’ll take an angel, a determined woman in love, and the entire Bachelor Firemen crew to make him believe … it is indeed a wonderful life.

Review:
I’ll admit that my reading of this series has been spotty as much as I am a sucker for fireman (and cop) romances. I’ve read the first book, the prequel and now the Christmas one (but never fear, the rest of the books are loitering on Mt TBR and will hopefully get tackled in the new year). So I didn’t have the background with the characters that many of the readers/reviewers had. I vaguely remember Dean from the previous books as being a bit of a stoic kind of guy – but honestly that is a character trait that I like. I will admit that I don’t really recall Lizzy, but since it was obvious from the writing, I’m guessing she was introduced in one of the books I haven’t read yet.

This was almost the perfect Christmas read. I love reading novella’s at this time of year, because they are normally short and sweet, hit the sweet spot, without (normally) being too sickly sweet (which I’m totally not a fan of) and It’s a Wonderful Fireman delivered. Told predominantly though flash-backs (which are often a hard way to tell a story), I could see Dean and Lizzie’s relationship develop (and I’m a sucker for friends2lovers stories). I really enjoyed seeing how their story developed and the fact that it took place over a longer period of time than a typical romance. While It’s A Wonderful Fireman was short (only about 140ish pgs), it felt like a complete story with a beginning/middle/ending – that to me is quite often missing in novella’s.

After reading Dean and Lizzie’s story, I’m looking forward to going back and reading the other books in the series, so I can “get to know” them a bit more and then maybe i’ll re-read their story, just for the heck of it ;) It’s A Wonderful Fireman is a solid 3.5 star read – rounding up to 4 on Goodreads and other places. I’d recommend for people who like Christmas novella’s, fireman romances and friends2lover romances.

Purchase Links:
Amazon – It’s a Wonderful Fireman: A Bachelor Firemen Novella (The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel)
Barnes & Noble – It’s a Wonderful Fireman: A Bachelor Firemen Novella (The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel)
Kobo – It’s a Wonderful Fireman: A Bachelor Firemen Novella (The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel)

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Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Blog Hop, Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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Review – Designed for Love – Kelsey Browning

designed for loveDesigned for Love
Author: Kelsey Browning
Series: #4 in the Texas Nights series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Ashton Davenport: Hot blonde. Old Money. Off-limits.

That’s how Mac McLaughlin sees her, anyway. And now that he’s enduring a temporary self-imposed exile in tiny Shelbyville, Texas, he’s seeing her way too often. Mac only wants to succeed as the contractor for the Lily Lake development in order to rebuild his reputation and return to Dallas, pronto. A sexy distraction like Ashton was not in the plans.

Mac McLaughlin: Hot builder. Cash poor. Hands-on.

Ashton kissed her trust fund goodbye and left her life as a society princess to prove she could make it on her own. Developing Lily Lake is her big chance, but it’s hard to stay focused working side-by-side with bossy, rough-around-the-edges Mac. Especially when he pulls off his shirt.

When the discovery of an endangered species derails the project, Mac can’t afford to stick around for a stalled job. His and Ashton’s explosive chemistry aside, he’s outta there…unless she can convince him that they just might be able to build something together.

Review:
There are times when I can’t wait for a series of books to end, and others where I get upset knowing that the stories have all been told and it is time for it to end. For me, Texas Nights by Kelsey Browning is one of the latter. For four books now, we have experienced the adventures of members from Shelbyville, TX as they find friendship, love and lust in their respective stories, and Designed for Love was no different.

In DfL, we meet up with Ashton Davenport, who was first introduced in Running the Red Light, the second book in the series, where she was the less than nice – ok, make that bitchy manager who Roxanne had previously worked for – and a spoiled brat to boot. I remember disliking her then and was really unsure whether the author would be able to redeem her for me. But, she managed to do so. I don’t know if it was the antics of her dog, Napoleon, who made me laugh so hard that I worried about pee’ing my pants; or how she was willing to try new things, even if she might get burnt – but over time, I found myself liking her and glad that the Ms Browning decided to give her, her story.

Then, there was Mac…oh Mac, Mac, Mac…its funny – three of the last five books I’ve finished (including this one) somehow feature a main character involved in construction – either as a general contractor, re-furbishing a house, or as an electrician – I must be on a construction romance theme kick ;) – but then of course, hot, sweaty, smexy men…I mean… However, as with most books, I still want something more – I think my biggest issue with DfL was that I wanted to know more about Mac – unlike the heroes in the previous books (Jamie/Cam/Beck), who had been featured in other books, this was (as far as I can recall) my first introduction to Mac (meaning, if he did appear in a previous book, I totally don’t remember). There was so much mystery surrounding him, that I was kind of disappointed and wanted a bit more when it came to the reveal about his history. Not a major gripe, just something I would have liked more of.

By far my favorite character, as alluded above, was Napoleon, the dog. I love it when an author creates an animal that is essential to the storyline (and not just put in to have a dog in the story). Of course, having following the authors blog and seen her passion for animals, that doesn’t surprise me. I have to wonder if any of Napoleon’s antics were events that have occurred in real life…especially the jock strap incident…

Overall, I gave Designed for Love a solid 4 stars, and am sad to see the series end :(

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2014 in Book Review

 

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