Publisher: Macmillan

Review: Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

Posted February 28, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarryReviewer: Rowena
Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry
Publisher: Macmillan, Tor Teen
Publication Date: January 22, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 365
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
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four-half-stars

Bestselling author Katie McGarry’s trademark wrong-side-of-the-tracks romance is given a new twist in the gritty YA contemporary novel, Only a Breath Apart.

Jesse Lachlin is cursed.

So the town folklore says, but while Jesse’s had his fair share of tragedy, the only curse he believes is in his grandmother’s will: in order to inherit his family farm he must win the approval of his childhood best friend, the girl he froze out his freshman year, Scarlett Copeland.

Scarlett Copeland is psychic.

Glory Gardner tells Scarlett she has hidden psychic abilities, but Scarlett thinks Glory is delusional. What is real is Scarlett’s father’s irrational fears, controlling attitude, and the dark secrets at home. Scarlett may have a way to escape, but there’s a hitch: she’ll have to rely on the one person she used to trust, the same boy who broke her heart, Jesse Lachlin.

Each midnight meeting pushes Jesse and Scarlett to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other. But as love blooms, the curse rears its ugly head…

Katie McGarry writes really emotional YA books that I have had no trouble falling into in the past. Her Pushing the Limits series is one of my favorite YA series and so I’m always on the lookout for more stuff from her. When this book made it onto my radar, I knew that I wanted it. I also knew that it was probably going to be an emotional read because McGarry does emotion well and I was right. This book made me cry and when I put it down, I was completely satisfied with the story as a whole and loved both Jesse and Scarlett so much.

This book follows two childhood best friends who were ripped apart by betrayal as they come together, years later and realize that their friendship was always meant to be more than friendship.

Jesse Lachlin had a pretty rocky childhood. His mother went from one bad relationship to the next and Jesse was always shipped from wherever his Mom was when things were going good for her to the more stable home at his grandmother’s house when things weren’t good for his Mom. He was no stranger to domestic abuse and he hated that his Mom never found the peace she craved while she was alive. Jesse was a witness to his mother’s murder and carries a lot of trauma and guilt over it. One of the things he remembers most from his Mom was her telling him that their family was cursed and as long as they stayed on their family land in Kentucky, they’d be okay because otherwise, everyone close to them will die.

Scarlett Copeland is planning an escape from her life. She has plans for her future and they do not include staying close to the home that she’s always known where her father is like a ticking bomb, waiting to go off and she vows to be long gone when that finally happens. When her parents informed her that she was not going to college at the University of Kentucky like she wanted but was going to attend the business school in town so that she can stay home instead of live in the dorms on campus, Scarlett knew she was on her own…and that meant letting the boy she called her best friend when she was a kid back into her life because whether she wanted it or not, she needed his help…and he needed hers.

Their journeys were not easy ones and throughout this entire book, both Jesse and Scarlett are put through the wringer. My heart hurt for both of them and all that they went through but boy did I love how they came together in the end. They were stronger together and seeing them want to be strong for each other after their history was just so satisfying. Katie McGarry did her thing with this book. It was packed with compelling characters and an emotional roller coaster that readers will not soon forget. I will say that it took me a little bit to get into the story because the beginning was a little slow but once I got a feel for who the characters were, what they were about, it was so easy for me to fall into the story and I ended up really enjoying it. It’s a good one, guys. I recommend.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Review: Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

Posted January 10, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Famous in a Small Town by Emma MillsReviewer: Rowena
Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars

For Sophie, small town life has never felt small. With her four best friends—loving, infuriating, and all she could ever ask for—she can weather any storm. But when Sophie’s beloved Acadia High School marching band is selected to march in the upcoming Rose Parade, it’s her job to get them all the way to LA. Her plan? To persuade country singer Megan Pleasant, their Midwestern town’s only claim to fame, to come back to Acadia to headline a fundraising festival.

The only problem is that Megan has very publicly sworn never to return.

What ensues is a journey filled with long-kept secrets, hidden heartbreaks, and revelations that could change everything—along with a possible fifth best friend: a new guy with a magnetic smile and secrets of his own.

I used to read a lot of YA but in the last couple of years, my interest in them cooled off some but it seems to be back because this is the second YA book that I read in the last few weeks and I have another on my TBR pile. I tried to read Emma Mills when my interest in YA books was dimming and because of that, I wasn’t in the mood to read the book. I feel like I should go back and give that book another go because I really enjoyed this one.

Sophie is in her high school band and she’s in charge of the fundraising for the next school year. Her band won a slot in a huge competition at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California so it’s going to be expensive to try to raise money to send all 100+ band members to California from their small town in Illinois. Sophie gets the idea of trying to locate and procure one of the country’s biggest country stars who just so happens to be from her same hometown to come back home to do a concert that will help their band raise the necessary funds they need for their trip. It’s not going to be easy because Sophie has no idea where to start to try to lock down Megan Pleasant but she turns to her friends for help and grudgingly, they help.

Sophie is a very busy young woman. She has multiple jobs, one of them being a babysitter and she babysits for Kyle and Heather once a week. When Kyle’s younger brother comes to live with him, Sophie reaches out to him and invites him along with her and her friends so that he knows people when they start their senior year together in the fall. Sophie is attracted to Kyle’s brother, August, but he keeps putting out that this stay in town is temporary and he’s not trying to form any close attachments so anything developing between him and Sophie needs to stop. But the heart wants what it wants and Sophie and August burst onto the scene and Sophie hopes for the best.

I think fans of Sarah Dessen, Kasie West, and Meg Cabot will enjoy this book because it’s such a sweetly written book about a young woman who loves big time and wants to help everyone that she could. Sophie was the kind of young adult protagonist that I adore. She was kind, honest, and strong. She lived her life with heart and my heart hurt for her with everything that she had working against her. From her issues with trying to locate Megan Pleasant, to her text messages with her mystery friend and then all of the stuff she went through with August, I just loved her more and more with each turn of the page. She really shined in this book and I’m glad that I read this one.

I’m definitely going to read more by Emma Mills. She won me over with this one.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Posted May 8, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene GooReviewer: Rowena
The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 288
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four-stars

From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn't so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

With Maurene Goo's signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

I’ve been in the mood for some diverse characters and am trying to put together a list of romances featuring Polynesian characters but in the midst of putting that list together, I came across this book. A contemporary YA set in LA, featuring an Asian lead? Count me in.

So, this book features Clara Shin who is a junior at Elysian High School in the Echo Park part of Los Angeles County. She’s known at school as a prankster and she’s always at odds with straight-laced Rose Carver. When things go a little too far at junior prom, Rose and Clara are sentenced to working off their fight on Clara’s father’s food truck, called the KoBra where they serve Korean and Brazillian influenced food. Clara is not happy about this as she’s not one for working over the summer but Rose will whatever it takes to not have this on her permanent record so she’s in.

From the very beginning, Rose and Clara butt heads. And they butt heads over everything, big and small, they argue and then fight and Clara’s Dad has had it. He’s going to make sure that they learn their lesson so he trains them and then he leaves them on their own to run the food truck. Being stuck on a food truck with your least favorite person in town is pure hell and continues to be that way for Clara until they start to get to know each other.

Seeing Clara really come into her own and take a hard look at the way that her life has been up until this point was refreshingly honest. I really enjoyed Clara’s character. Her personality was so L.A. and seeing her grow closer and closer to Rose was fun and meeting Hamlet then seeing him and Clara circle each other was great.

This book was well written. Goo’s depiction of Los Angeles was real, authentic and true. There is a huge Asian population in San Gabriel Valley and it didn’t surprise me at all that Hamlet played basketball (Ha, I’ve been to many an Asian League basketball game in SGV and could totally picture Hamlet there). I even pictured Hamlet as one of my daughter’s friends. The way that Hamlet was described fit my daughter’s friend description really well. I was nodding along to pretty much all of the L.A. bits because L.A. is my hometown and I thought all of that stuff was spot on.

It was really easy for me to connect with this book because I’m a huge fan of Los Angeles and coming of age stories. Clara was a great lead character and I really loved seeing the friendship blossom between her and Rose. I also really enjoyed the little romance that she had going with Hamlet and the positive parenting thing going on??? YESSSSS!!! Far too often, I see a lot of absent parents in YA books so it was nice to see parents who were involved in their children’s lives and showed genuine love for them. All in all, I really enjoyed Clara’s journey of self-discovery in this book and I will definitely be reading more from Maurene Goo. I recommend this book if you’re in the mood for something cute, sweet and funny. This fits the bill quite nicely.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Year One by Nora Roberts

Posted February 8, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 11 Comments

Review: Year One by Nora RobertsReviewer: Casee
Year One (Chronicles of The One #1) by Nora Roberts
Series: Chronicles of The One #1
Also in this series: Of Blood and Bone (Chronicles of The One, #2)
Publisher: Macmillan, St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: December 5th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 419
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

A stunning new novel from the number-one New York Times best-selling author - an epic of hope and horror, chaos and magic, and a journey that will unite a desperate group of people to fight the battle of their lives...

It began on New Year’s Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed—and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.

Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river—or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.

In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

The end has come. The beginning comes next.

Where do I even begin with this book? I feel like it has plagued me since it was first released, followed me through Christmas and into the new year. I thought that if I could just sit down and get into it, I would have no problem finishing it. That was true and not true. It was really hard to put this book into the “paranormal romance” category because it’s not really a romance, but it is paranormal. It has more of a “post-apocalypse” vibe, yet there was no apocalypse. You could go either way. I went with paranormal romance because there is romance in it. Maybe a “paranormal almost post-apocalypse romance”?

It was not easy for me to get into this book and this had nothing to do with the time I had or didn’t have to read. This is a new world for Roberts and I think it might be a series that’s going to go on for a little while (don’t quote me on that). My reasons are 1) the series is called the Chronicles. That’s it. That’s my reason. Plus there is no way that she went through everything she did in this first book for a trilogy. I am known to be wrong. So there was a lot, a lot of time spent getting to know this world, these characters and how The One was going to be important. Maybe too much time? It is also incredibly hard to bring you a good review because there was so much going on and so many characters.

The book began in Scotland as these books usually do. Or Ireland. From all the information that I was trying to take in, I gathered that it all began at a stone circle in Scotland. Ross MacLeod didn’t know that going hunting for pheasant was going to end his life, the lives of his family, and billions of others. That’s what happened and all because of the bird landing in the stone circle that has been talked about in whispers within his family. Poor guy. The MacLeod family seemed to just be a family on the peripheral, but their daughter ended up being an important part of the book. Ross and his wife, Angie, went home to New York and spread what was going to become known as the “Doom” from Scotland to New York and everywhere in between.

At the same time the Doom started spreading, anyone with any magical ability had their existing ability enhanced. Some that didn’t know they were magical found out they were faeries or elves. Anyone with magical abilities became known as the “Uncanny”. Not everyone was crazy about the Uncannys, which is putting it lightly. The Uncanny’s learned to hide their powers because some people would kill them on sight.

I really want to tell you about every single character, but that would be so boring. I’ll just try to break it down as simple as I can.

First we have Lana and Max, witches from New York who add human Eddie and canine Joe to their caravan. Then you have Jonah, Rachel, Katie (MacLeod’s daughter) and her three newborn babies. You also have Arlys, Fred, and Chuck. So everyone from New York on a mission. They each have their own journeys that eventually lead them to each other, but it wasn’t an easy one. And who is The One? Well, I’m not going to spoil that.

Once I got into it a little more, I finished it in a day and a half. I found myself really enjoying it. There was something I didn’t see coming which I adjusted to, but the ending? Good Lord help me. It was such a rushed ending that I felt ripped off. Not that the ending didn’t need to come, but it was all tied up in such a nice little bow. Nothankyouverymuch. Still, I’ll read the next one.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

Chronicles of The One

three-half-stars


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Joint Review: A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

Posted December 13, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 12 Comments

Joint Review: A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Casee, Holly and Rowena
A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Wallflowers #5
Also in this series: Again The Magic, The Devil in Winter, Scandal in Spring (The Wallflowers #4)
Publisher: Macmillan
Publication Date: November 2nd 2010
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 224
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas invites you to spend the holidays with the Wallflowers—four young London ladies who finally found the men of their dreams...and will join together once more to help the world's most notorious rogue meet his match.
The magic of Christmas
Rafe Bowman has just arrived from America for his arranged meeting with Natalie, the very proper and beautiful daughter of Lady and Lord Blandford. His chiseled good looks and imposing physique are sure to impress the lady-in-waiting, and if it weren't for his shocking American ways and wild reputation, her hand would already be guaranteed. Before the courtship can begin, Rafe realizes he must learn the rules of London society. But when four former Wallflowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen...
BEGINS under the mistletoeWinning a bride turns out to be more complicated than Rafe Bowman anticipated, especially for a man accustomed to getting anything he wants. However, Christmas works in the most unexpected ways, changing a cynic to a romantic...and inspiring passion in the most timid of hearts.
"Splendid romance."—Booklist

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.*****

Holly: The three of us haven’t done a review together in awhile. I remember how much I loved this series. Getting this novella was such an lovely bonus.

This post was originally published October 14, 2008

 

It’s been awhile since we did a joint review here at Book Binge, but when Rowena, Casee, and I realized we’d all read A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas, we decided to do one. Please note: There will be spoilers below.

Holly: It was great seeing the Wallflowers again, though I’m glad the story wasn’t totally focused on them. I adored Hannah and Rafe both. There was something very real about them and their relationship. I think Hannah’s understanding of her situation was very well done. I really didn’t like Lady Natalie, though. I’m not sure if LK meant for her to be a sympathetic character, but I didn’t buy it. Especially the way she treated Hannah when she didn’t get her way.

Rowena: I KNOW! I am not a fan of Natalie’s. I hated the way that she treated Hannah, especially when she wanted to spend time alone with Rafe. The way she talked down to Hannah in front of Rafe as if that made her cooler to Rafe seriously pissed me off and sealed her fate for me as the tramp I didn’t like at all.

But, I LOVED THIS BOOK! I thought it was such a fast and cute holiday read. I loved how The Wallflowers were all reunited and happily married. It was fun to see them all band together to help Hannah and I loved the whole Cinderella theme as well.

Rafe was a hottie of a hero, loved him! I loved his personality and I loved his hotness and I just effing loved him! The way he was with Hannah and the way that he was with his sisters and the kids. He was an all around great hero.

Hannah was great too! I loved how we saw her change her mind about Rafe. I loved how smart she was and how she wasn’t afraid to show how smart she was and I loved how easy it was for her to befriend the Wallflowers and fit in with them. She was great, great, great.

Casee: I couldn’t stand Lady Natalie. The way she treated Hannah was just awful, especially in front of Rafe. I thought I would like her b/c of how amused she was when Hannah told her about meeting Rafe. But then she just seemed spiteful and petty.

I loved the first meeting between them. The way Hannah was so apalled by Rafe’s manners was freaking funny.

Like Rowena said, it was a fast and cute holiday read. I really enjoyed it.

H: Natalie was very much the spoiled child. I’m still not clear if LK meant for her to be likable or not. I mean, were we supposed to want her to end up happy, just not with Rafe? I certainly didn’t feel that way in the end. I wanted her to get her comeuppance. I loved that the Wallflowers kind of jumped in and took Hannah under their wing. The scene where they find the letter from Rafe and are examining it is hilarious. It starts with one and then another pops her head in and they all said the same thing, “Hannah found a letter. It’s a secret. Come in.” Adorable. I liked Rafe, too. He was very chivalrous. The way he joked and teased them was great. I definitely loved the intimacy he and Hannah established right in the beginning. How they talked to each other about things and really listened to each other. Oh! How about that first kiss? Scorching! One thing that really bothered me was Lilian. Why in the world would she think Westcliff was cheating on her? That really didn’t ring true for me at all. She was always self-assured and confident and having her question herself and Marcus just..didn’t work. Is that just me?

R: I hope she wasn’t meant to be likeable because I didn’t like that little tramp at all. So crosses fingers not meant to be likeable.

Me too. I thought that adding the Wallflowers into the story would kind of take away from my enjoyment of Rafe and Hannah but that wasn’t the case at all. I think LK did a fantastic job of writing them into the story without them stealing the thunder away from Hannah and Rafe. I loved the scene that you mentioned because it showed us just how close each of the Wallflowers are and even after all this time and then all the time spent apart to see them all together again and acting as if they had spent everyday together was great to see and I was glad that they all came together to help Hannah, it was cute, adorable and oh so right.

That first kiss was…wow. I loved it, it was right then that I fell like a rock for Rafe. So confident and cocky and sexy he was and I ate it all up.

One of my favorite scenes was the one where Hannah gets roped into helping the little kid get the toupee back….oh how frickin’ hilarious that was.

As for the whole Lillian thing, she’s never been a favorite of mine but I do agree that her insecurities about Marcus threw me off a bit because of the Lillian we all knew from the other books. I didn’t think anything of it though, it was just a fleeting thought, one I didn’t dwell on at all so all of that was, BLAH.

C: I really thought Natalie was going to end up being a heroine in a novella with one of the Bowman twin brothers. That was at the beginning when she seemed likeable. After reading the book, though, I’m not interested in reading about her at all.

The scene about Rafe’s letter and all the Wallflowers coming in was probably my favorite scene in the whole book. I just really thought that it really highlighted why these four women became the best of friends in the most unlikely of circumstances. Hannah fit right in and I loved how they took her under their collective wing.

I agree to a certain point about the Lillian thing. I think that LK was trying to show that even a woman as strong as Lillian can have insecurities. Lillian was never a favorite of mine, either, but I really felt bad for her. The part for me that was totally un-Lillian like was when she asked Marcus to be discreet. The Lillian we knew would have bashed his head with whatever heavy object was at hand.

H: You know, at first I didn’t realize there was even an outside story involved (when we first heard the title, but had no synopses, I mean). I thought it was just going to be a reunion of the Wallflowers. I’m glad we got a glimpse of each of them (St. Vincent is effing hot!), but you’re right, they balanced the story rather than taking it over. Oh, that scene when she got stuck on the ledge was wonderful! I really liked not only Rafe rescuing her, but also the scene after, where they decorated the tree as a family. The wager they made and the forfeit Rafe had to give up made me all melty inside. I heart him.

R: Oh yes! I know what you mean, I loved the little forfeit thing, I got all gooey inside, it was great. I’m telling you, this story was another fantastic LK book and I really, really enjoyed it.

The only thing that I was miffed about was that I didn’t think we got enough Simon and Annabelle. I feel like after their story, they were done. They’re mentioned and they’re around but we don’t get to see as much of them as we do of the others, the same with Matthew and Daisy. Those two couples are my favorite in the series and we either hear about how they’re doing or they’re in the background whereas Lillian and Marcus are always around and have parts in other books as well as Seb and Evie, and as much as I love them, I want to see more of the others.

Is that too much to ask for? Maybe but it doesn’t stop me from wanting more sexy Simon and magnificent Matthew…=)

C: I wished there was more of Simon and Anabelle, too! Am I the only one that thought it was weird that Anabelle refers to Simon as “Mr. Hunt” to the Wallflowers? I’ve always thought that seemed so impersonal.

I’m re-reading Devil in Winter right now. I loved getting the small glimpse back into St. Vincent and Evie. Those two…sigh

I thought it was just going to be a Wallflower reunion book, too. I’m glad that we got a little of everything. Getting a new love story along w/ reading more about the Wallflowers, what could be better?

H: You know, it’s funny, but I think Lilian and Marcus are the least favorite Wallflowers by pretty much everyone, but they’re the ones that crop up most often. Even Evie and Seb take a backseat to them. Do you think LK is playing favorites? LOL

Overall I’d say this is a total winner. The main romance between Hannah and Rafe is very well done and the Wallflowers really enhanced the story. I had a couple gripes, but it goes in the keeper pile and I know I’ll pick it up again. 4 out of 5 You?

R: I agree, overall the story was completely well done. The romance between Rafe and Hannah was great and easy to fall into. Great characters, great storyline makes for a winner for me and I think LK did a fab job!

4.5 out of 5 for me.

C: I was completely happy when I closed this book. I thought it was a perfect Christmas read. The only thing that would have made it better was an appearance by Derek Craven. Heh.

4.25 out of 5.

Grades:
Casee: 4.25 out of 5
Holly: 4. out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

The Series:

  

This book is available from St. Martin’s Press. You can buy it here.

four-half-stars


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