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Review of Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

lieslamora3 out of 5 Stars

Let me start by saying that I met Mr. Lynch at the Phoenix Comicon and he was all smiles and incredibly nice. This was a story I was very interested in reading. I will also say upfront that I plan on reading the second book in this series. And I plan on doing it in the near future. So why only 3 stars? Two words: Descriptions. Characters.

Now, if you’ve read my reviews you’ll know I’m not into lengthy descriptions. Worked into dialog or a natural scene? Oh hell ya, I love it. A paragraph? Sure. That’s how most do it. Two paragraphs? Okay, I’ll deal. 3 pages? Forget about it. I’m skimming right over that. 3 pages where the tense is switched to present while the rest of the book is in past? Yeah, I’m not skimming, I’m plain skipping. Why? I hate hate hate it when I get pulled out of a story. It’s very easy for me to completely lose myself in a book. I can read for hours without realizing it; missing meals, forgetting about appointments, ignoring appointments, waking up at 4am because I can’t stop thinking about the book, and so on. But when I’m continually pulled from the story, I get very upset. It’s jarring for me. So that alone dropped this book an entire star rating. I probably missed tons of interesting little tidbits from those sections, but I can’t stand info dumps and pages of descriptions. So, honestly, it ticked me off because I know I missed some cool stuff.

Let’s tack on to that the flashbacks. I didn’t so much mind it when the went to Locke’s childhood and initiation into the Gentleman Bastards. Those gave me insights into his character and I did enjoy them, though I felt he was extremely indifferent for such a young child. What I did not like was when a scene ended with a reveal and then we backtracked to how it came to be. I already know so going back doesn’t do much for me. I’ve lost the tension, the interest, and the care: I know the end result.

On top of the pages of description, there were paragraphs on top of paragraphs of in-depth dialog for the scheme the Gentleman Bastards were attempting. Now, this is going to come down to purely personal preference. I didn’t care much for all the laboring setup of the Don Salvara. It’s just not something that holds my interests. This is something my sister would enjoy. She tends to like all that stuff, which is why we don’t have the same books in our top five. Add this to the all the description and I’m skimming quite a bit.

Characters? Ugh! This was the most frustrating part of the book and the one area I walked around spewing my frustration this morning when I finished it. So, let me tell you that I enjoyed the characters. But… they were nothing too terribly special to me. The banter got me to smile a few times, and I like the sense of camaraderie the Gentleman Bastards had. With all my readings and reviews, I’m slowly identifying what draws me to a character. I’ve often said that I like my characters a little broody and internally tormented. That’s definitely true. But what I found enticed me to Locke Lamora (I’m just going to say it here: I friggin love this character’s name) was his vulnerability. And that’s when I realized that I look for that trait in my favorite characters. The vulnerability doesn’t always stem from something traumatic, but it definitely helps me latch on to characters. Now, Locke Lamora is not your average protagonist weighing in at two hundred pounds of nothing but muscle. He gets the crap beat out of him and knows that he’s no physical match for half the people he runs into. I really really liked that about him. So, why did I not latch on to him? I asked myself that same question this morning and discovered why. He lacked a bit of depth to me. He didn’t have quirks. I don’t remember reading how he stood, how his stances were set when he was in trouble, when he was happy. I hardly got an expression from him. He was stone, in my mind. He had no life. However, there was that vulnerability in him that kept me interested in his character. And there were some hints that there’s more of his past that we’re going to learn about in upcoming books. That alone will keep me reading on.

The writing was very approachable and I found Mr. Lynch’s voice nothing short of delightful. When I was in a good scene with all my senses firing, I was there and I loved it! Truly gifted with prose. While I did have some beefs with the book, I can’t fault Lynch’s writing. And if you boil down the story, it was very interesting and engaging.

So, overall, if you don’t mind some descriptions, I really do recommend this book. I’ll definitely pick up book two at some point and hope to become a little bit more invested in Locke Lamora. And I’ll be ardently recommending this book to my sister.

Where to find Lynch:
Website
Twitter
Blog

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Michael J Sullivan’s Ride to Conquer Cancer

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday I’d like to share a post made my one of my favorite authors, Michael J Sullivan. It was a very moving post about cancer and his participation in the Johns Hopkins Ride to Conquer Cancer charity event that will take place in September. I must say, Sullivan’s experiences with cancer are more than one person should have to endure, especially at the young age in which he met its acquaintance.

Here’s a small section of his post:

For years I saw cancer as this evil creature that stalked my family. A dark, mysterious and undefeatable force: Sauron, Voldemort, and the Nothing all wrapped up in one. My father survived being trapped by the Nazis in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. He helped defeat Hitler, but he couldn’t defeat cancer. My family was forced to sell our home in the city after he died. We left everything behind, and led by my sister Noreen, we moved away like some marked family. That’s how I saw it when cancer found Noreen and killed her in retaliation for saving us—that she dared to live. – Michael J Sullivan

I had never known cancer until I met my husband. Unfortunately, his family was very familiar with it, though I barely knew only one of the many family members it claimed. My husband has had a few brief meetings with skin cancer, as well as his parents. So while I cannot even begin to imagine Mr. Sullivan’s suffering, I can certainly help him turn grief into a weapon. Flying back east to participate in the ride myself is out of reach, but I have donated to his team and will be cheering for him from thousands of miles away.

I hope you can join me in supporting this cause. I couldn’t donate much, but I know every tiny bit helps. If any bloggers are reading this, I’d appreciate help in spreading the word. I’d love to see Mr. Sullivan’s name up there on the list of top fundraisers.

Below are all the links you’ll need:

Donate by Clicking Here
Team Riyria’s Ride to Conquer Cancer Page
General Ride to Conquer Cancer Site Page
Ride to Conquer Cancer Twitter
Ride to Conquer Cancer Facebook
Sullivan’s Website
Sullivan’s Blog Post

Michael J Sullivan is author of:
s-typeopts13s-typeopts13s-typeopts13crowntower-2-5rose and thornhollowworld

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Review of Fae – The Wild Hunt by Graham Austin-King

faeFairies… The Fae… The stuff of bedtime stories and nursery rhymes.

But sometimes the fairy tales are true. Sometimes they hold a warning…

For a hundred generations the Fae have been locked away from the world, in the cold, the Outside. They have faded out of sight and mind into myth and folklore, but now the barriers are weakening and they push against the tattered remnants of the wyrde as they seek a way to return.

As a new religion spreads across the world, sweeping the old ways and beliefs away before it, a warlike people look across the frozen ocean towards the shores of Anlan, hungry for new lands. War is coming, even as the wyrde of the Droos is fading.

Only by realising the truth lost in a child’s tale will the world hope to withstand the wild hunt.

3 out of 5 Stars

So this is another book where I found the story interesting, but it just didn’t hold my attention throughout.

First off, there was way too much description for my taste and it slowed the story down terribly. I started skimming descriptions half way through the book. Not that they were done poorly, they were just too drawn out for me. I’d also say that the writing and proofreading got a tad bit lazy towards the end. There were repetitive words and, sadly, I noticed quite a few quotation errors and incorrect commas. It seemed to get worse the further in I got. Or maybe I just noticed it more.

If I’m being honest, about 70% in I thought about putting it down. I had lost interests, I wasn’t invested in the characters, and I didn’t feel like the story moved at all. But I had a tiny bit of curiosity gnawing away at me so I skimmed until about 85%. I must say the ending was great. Really great. Seriously enjoyed it. I’d been following what I consider to be 3 main story lines and they came together in whirlwind of action in the last part of the book.

Though I didn’t feel invested in any of the characters, Devin was my favorite. I was more curious about his storyline throughout. He faced more adversity than the others. I will say that the story of Kloss dragged for me, though I did like him. I think that’s probably my problem with all the characters. Their stories were slow in evolving and I wasn’t invested in them enough to enjoy a slow moving plot. If I had latched on to any of them, I wouldn’t have minded the slower pace. Matter of fact, I would have loved it.

Overall, I think this was a book meant to submerge you into the lives of the characters, but besides Devin, the others didn’t go through enough hardships for me (personally) to be invested. And while Devin did, I think I just wasn’t in his mind enough to grow attached to him. Or maybe his reactions kept me at a distance.

I was also slightly confused on the timing of everything. At one point, I find out that we’d skipped five years. I’m fine with that, but I’m not sure when the other 2 story lines jumped. I would have liked a break or label to show me.

I’m curious about the second book. I’ll pick it up one day because book 1 left us with a cliffhanger. I mean, a serious one: ending it right at an action scene. So if cliffhangers bother you, you might want to wait until you have the second book in hand.

Overall, I think the ending and Devin saved this book for me. If you do pick it up, be prepared for an interesting, slower evolving plot, a few grammar issues, and a sprinkling of lengthy descriptions (said by a reader who doesn’t care much for descriptions). If by chance you connect with one of the characters, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy spending chapters with them. It’s a decent way to pass some time and I don’t regret reading it in the slightest.

Where to find Graham Austin-King:
Website
Goodreads
Twitter
Facebook
Google

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Review of Shadow of the Sands by Michael Diack

shadowsinsandsThe deathly Sanghouls have escaped from the Empty Province and, from within their golden dunes, they seek to wipe out all life in Empyria. Unaware of this, the last surviving humans continue going about their daily routine in the city of Nimar. But when the city’s water pool stops refilling, the Nimerians are forced to move into lands of myth and legend.

Only when Prince Viro, an elf of the southern lands, arrives in Nimar do the humans truly understand the threat to their existence. The two races must unite and reclaim the lost seven stones of light – the only weapon that can defeat the demonic shadow enclosing them.

As four of the city’s most talented young men and women, Athmane, Faria, Bayoud and Mary will be critical to Nimar enduring the perils, both natural and unnatural, that await them.

2 out of 5 Stars

I’m going to start by saying there are plenty of 4 and 5 star reviews for this book out on Goodreads as well as Amazon. My dislike might just be a preference in writing style as I found the premise of the story quite interesting. Let me explain.

As you’ll read from the book blurb (which I’ve decided to start including on my posts going forward), the setting for this book is a desert; much different from most fantasy novels. The people are slowly evolving and bettering their lifestyles with inventions and such. Every person has a job and is apparently devoted to their city. So far, so good. The idea is pretty interesting. I liked the blurb. I liked the story idea. That is why this got 2 stars instead of 1.

Now, I hate giving 1 or 2 stars because that means I didn’t care much for the book. I like most of what I read, so 3 stars is usually where I’ll fall. For me to rate it low, there’s glaring reasons, which I’ll provide below to be sure you understand where I’m coming from. I don’t take giving 2 stars lightly.

All right, we’ve established the story idea is good. How about those characters? Well, sadly, I couldn’t really tell them apart. The dialog read the same for everyone. Not only was it static, but it felt very stilted. It takes a lot for me to say that about dialog. I usually gloss right over rigid statements by characters. But this was a little too much and too often for me to ignore. Basically, the dialog read no different from everything else.

I was 26% into this book and still felt like I was getting an info dump. And that feeling continued the entire time. I chalk it up to a lot of tell vs show. It took away from my enjoyment immensely and kept shoving me outside the story.

One thing that threw me often was the choice of words. Again, I usually don’t notice this stuff much, but these were rather odd. Here’s some examples:
“A library is yo ur weapon? Can’t your quadrant build something cool for a change?”
The “cool” really threw me.
“Although it was still hot, around thirty-five degrees Celsius in the peak of the day,…”
Odd that we’re getting temperatures.
“At thirty-nine, Master Thane was not as quick as he used to be, yet his cardiovascular fitness was exceptional.”
Again, for fantasy I think cardiovascular is such a technical word to use.

There are several incorrect comma placements that tripped me up. I’ve said it a million times: I don’t have an editor’s eye; if I notice a few errors, there’s probably a lot more.

My biggest beef? Head hopping during a scene. I’d say about 70% is in closed third person, which makes those times we step out of a character’s head even more jarring. I got confused because we were told something, then a few paragraphs later the characters would ask about what we were just told. Example (contains a tiny spoiler):
Descriptive paragraph: “Puffs of pink smoke from the poisonous mushrooms ejected into the air but they had no effect on the trolls, who considered them a delicacy.”
At this point, I’m supposed to be in Jax’s PoV (at least I have been for most of the chapter). So he knows the mushrooms are a delicacy, right? No.
There’s a few sentences describing the trolls then this happens:
Jax speaking: “They’ve fashioned their own weapons. We’ll take them after they’re dead,” said Jax. “Why are the mushrooms not killing them?”
So as you can see, we the readers were just told a paragraph earlier, but apparently the characters didn’t know. For me, this might be a personal reading preference. Honestly, I hate mid section PoV changes. I love multiple PoV’s, but only when they’re nicely divided. Anything else spoils my reading experience. As you can imagine, I started skimming with a quarter left in the book. I just wasn’t involved in the story.

So, I think in the end this just wasn’t my style. I read quite a few reviews that praised Diack’s writing, so I highly encourage you to read a sample, though I will say most of my problems started a ways in.

Where to find Michael Diack:
Website
Goodreads
Amazon
Twitter

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It’s Gloating Time! Comicon 2014!

Now, I usually don’t walk around giggling like a teenage girl, but I did this weekend. Friday I ventured to my very first Comicon Convention. I didn’t go for the all the superhero stuff, the actors, the artists, or the people-watching. I went for three reasons: Patrick Rothfuss, Jim Butcher, and Zachary Jernigan. Because I’m still grinning like it was yesterday, I thought I’d share my little adventure and hopefully convince myself that what happened Friday, in fact, really happened.

First off, I think most know by now that I’m a shy person. So the prospect of meeting three authors whom I greatly admire spiked my heart rate high enough I was concerned for myself. Let’s add on to that my nerves and general knowledge that I don’t do well making first impressions. I tend to laugh and smile too much and look like a deer in headlights. Stick me in front of a computer and I’m much more comfortable. Put me in front of someone I could care less about and I can manage just fine. But someone I actually admire? Forget about it. Here we go in order of appearance:

So as much as I knew what would happen, I still had hopes that I could actually pull out something coherent when I first met Patrick Rothfuss. As most know, I love The Name of the Wind so much that I refuse to pick up The Wise Man’s Fears until the final book is released. Kvothe was a character I latched on to and couldn’t bring myself further torture by reading the second book. I wouldn’t be able to recover until I knew how his story ended. Additionally, I absolutely love love love and admire Rothfuss’s writing. He got me to cry 3 times in one book. That might be a record. Anyways, the wait in line strained my nerves to nearly breaking. I told myself to be calm and eloquent, to say something profound, witty. Instead, I got up there, laughed, handed him my books, and said “hi.” Rothfuss must have experience with awkward because he said “hi” back in a very friendly tone. I really don’t remember much after that. He asked something along the lines of how I was. I responded star-struck or something close to it, laughed, and managed to say some semblance of a compliment about his writing. He looked up and smiled, thanked me, and I remember thinking he had very bright, happy eyes. I thanked him, took my books, and nearly fled. Yay me (said with all the sarcasm I can muster). So the first picture is somewhat normal, the second is my “holy crap” face and “I can’t believe this is happening” face.
Patrick 1Patrick 2
namewindwiseman

 

 

 

 

 

All right, now I had gotten the nerves out. It’s very disappointing when you think you can overcome something and you don’t and you can’t have a do-over. Such is life. I told myself to be more relaxed with the next author. So, I got in line for Jim Butcher.

Most who follow my blog will know that I just read his first book, Storm Front, a few weeks ago and, surprisingly, really enjoyed it (I usually keep to traditional fantasy). So I went out and immediately bought his next two books in the series so I could get them signed. Sadly, there was a two book limit, but I’m not complaining. Anyways, I’m waiting in line, telling myself to be normal. What happened? Yeah, I fumbled over my words, laughed, and looked like a total idiot. Butcher graciously smiled at me throughout my ramblings (have no idea what I said. I know I got a compliment in there somewhere).
Butcherstormfrontfullmoon

 

 

 

 

 

At this point, I tried to meet Jernigan, but he wasn’t at his booth. I walked around the convention with my husband to waste some time until Jernigan showed up. In our walking, I saw a book propped up that I’d just read a review about on Drunken Dragon Reviews. It had sparked my interest in the book so I paused, trying to remember the review. McClellan was at the table and said, “I heard this is a good book.” I joked with him a moment and then went around the corner to pull up the review on my phone. The first line: “This book’s absolutely visceral; it’s just drenched in blood, gunpowder and body parts. Me gusta.” Um, hell yeah I’m going to read it. I love gore. Seriously. Love it. Sooooo, my husband, being the lovely supporter of my habit, went over to the nearest store they had set up and found the book, Promise of Blood. In the meantime, I’m looking over at another table and I recognize a book as one that I had wanted to read for some time, The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch. My husband, seeing my stare, bought that book as well. After I had the two lovely books in my hand, I went over to Lynch and he happily signed away. I didn’t have much to say and felt a little guilty for it. I haven’t read them, so I smiled and gave my thanks a few times, locking everything into memory in case I love the books. Then I can get all giddy like I did with Rothfuss, Butcher, and Jernigan. Once I got Lynch’s autograph, I went around to find McClennan and guess who’s at a table? Django Wexler. Well, his book, The Thousand Names is on my to-read list as well. So my husband went and got me that book and I had it signed. Now, I’m not in the picture with Wexler and McClellan, but I swear I met them. I must say, McClennan is a very funny guy, seemed laid-back, and was extremely approachable. The first pic is Lynch, the second is Wexler, and the third is McClellan.
scottrepublicdjangothousandbrianpromise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all that, I finally met Jernigan in the last 15 minutes the convention was open. Those who don’t remember, I’m part of his SSFFHWA organization. Jernigan is an author I immensely admire since he’s very outspoken about his beliefs and himself, all the flaws and admirable qualities he possesses. His imagination is insane and I can’t even begin to understand half of what he can come up with. His compilation of short stories is simply beautiful. Honestly, I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to meet him. I had kept missing him all day. But when I saw him coming to his booth, it capped off my first comicon with a wonderful chat and fulfilled my last wish of the day. Because I admire him, I wasn’t nearly as composed as I would have liked to have been. Regardless, he has a friendly way about him that set me at ease, though I think I still stumbled over my words (what ones I managed to get out).
zacharynoreturn

 

 

 

 

 

So I’ve been floating through life with a surreal smile that often switches to screaming like a girl who just saw her favorite boy bands in one day. Seriously an amazing experience and I feel honored to have met these authors.

Just to give a few updates, my Goodreads giveaway for Keepers of Arden ended. However, I do plan on hosting one on my website here. Unfortunately, I have to upgrade this site and soon you will notice a slight appearance change. Once I get that done, I’ll do another promotion for charity that’ll run inline with my giveaway. Look for something in July, possibly August.

We just got back a week ago from a vacation to Seattle. Being from Arizona, I’m always struck by the greenness of the area. It was wonderfully relaxing and I got a bit of writing started on book 3 while I was out there. Book 2 is being read to catch any developmental issues, then I’ll make the rewrites, send it off to a copy editor, and get that monster published! I’m still hoping it will be this year. Here’s a picture from our trip when we drove to the mountains. The other one is on a ferry on the way to the other side of the Sound. Behind us is the little city I’m currently in love with, Port Townsend.
dogstown

 

 

 

 

I think I’ve rambled on enough. I’ll have a review up on Thursday of an Indie read I just finished yesterday. Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

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Review of Spirits of Light and Shadow by India Drummond

spiritlightshadow4 out of 5 Stars

Ugh! So first, this was a great story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and had no problem devouring it in a single morning and afternoon. The writing, for me, was clean and wonderful. There were enough story questions that I kept wondering what the heck was happening. The world was built up nicely. The entire time I read, I was in the story, not knowing I was reading. I was along for the ride and it was quite entertaining.

Now, that being said, I yet again felt a little distant from one of the main protagonist, Korbin. For me, I didn’t feel his quirks were as developed as Octavia (the second main protagonist). We were given descriptions of her walk, how her face and eyes looked to Korbin, but I didn’t feel it reciprocated when we were in Ooctavia’s PoV. I got a little, but it wasn’t done as nicely as Octavia, who, let me just say, is awesome. She was a great character to read; strong female that required no pampering, saving, or coddling. I enjoyed her immensely, though I was still lacking that psycho attachment I get. I think my favorite part was the interactions between Korbin and Octavia. Their relationship was developed brilliantly and had a very natural flow to it.

I will say I was a tad disappointed to learn who the dark conduit was in the end. Plus, the last paragraph kinda made me frown. If you read the book and then this review, you’ll understand why. Lastly, the book cover really doesn’t tie into the story at all, unless I missed something.

I honestly teetered on the 3 or 4 star cusp for quite a while. In the end, it was how engrossed I was in Drummond’s writing and story that nudged me up to 4. Never once did I set it aside to busy myself with something else because I was bored. I blew right through it one sitting. Because I enjoyed her writing so much, I think I’ll pick up her Caledonia Fae Series sometime soon.

Where to find India Drummond:
Website (little odd, but I didn’t see this book on her website yet)
Goodreads
Twitter
Facebook
Amazon

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Review of Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) by Jim Butcher

stormfront4 out of 5 Stars

How do I feel about this book? Ugh! Crazy conflicted. Here goes my attempt to try to explain myself.

I love love love wizards. So yeah, I’m going to like Harry. Did I really like him? You bet. Did I love him so much I couldn’t put down the book? Sadly, no. I mean, I really liked him. Um, did I mention he’s an awesome wizard? So yeah, really liked him. But (yes, there is a “but”) I felt a little distant from him. I couldn’t get a solid picture in my head and I couldn’t imagine him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s described and developed well. Maybe it’s the more humorous edge of his narration that kept me peering into the story instead of planting me firmly in it. I like humor, though, and I had no problem riding alongside Sir Edric in Thaddeus White’s comedy, Sir Edric’s Temple. For some reason, I thought Dresden would be a tougher and more aloof character. Now that I mention it, that was exactly my problem. I went into the book with a preconceived notion that wasn’t right. I was expecting something else, something my mind concocted based on the book covers. I’d even been warned that this wasn’t a dark series, but I somehow clung to the thought of a brooding character. That said, I think now that I’ve read the first book and have had my assumed character blasted apart, I’ll enjoy the second book far better.

Yes, you read it right. While I wasn’t in love with Harry to the point of lost sleep (like I was with Royce, Vaelin, or Kvothe), I am highly addicted to the story. I thought the magic system was great and handled brilliantly. I thought the characters were wonderfully developed (Murph was probably my second fav character next to Harry). And I found the writing to be accessible and just plain entertaining. I like Butcher’s voice. As I’ve said before, I don’t laugh out loud often when reading and it takes quite a bit to wrestle a tear from me. I laughed loudly at one part, chuckled a few times, and smiled quite a bit. For that reason alone, I will continue reading this series. But there are other reasons that are equally tasty. Like I said before, I loved Butcher’s voice. This was just a fun book to read; short, funny, clever, likable, and vastly entertaining. Though the first half dragged just a hair, the rest of the book was delightfully fast paced and kept me flipping pages. The end was satisfying and made me want more without dangling unanswered questions in front of me. I see myself reading a Butcher book once a month, maybe twice, until I’m caught up.

I’m rather surprised by my reaction to this book since I’ve yet to find one outside traditional fantasy that I enjoyed as much as Dresden. I’ve liked quite a few, but this one spoke to me a bit more than the others. I think it was because of the heavy dose of magic compared to others. Have I mentioned how much I like wizards? I’m making myself a bet that I’ll grow to love this series the longer I read it.

Just to give you an idea, here’s a few lines that I absolutely loved:

Paranoid? Probably. But just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that there isn’t an invisible demon about to eat your face.

The only things I had clean were more sweats and another T-shirt, this one proclaiming in bold letters over a little cartoon graveyard, “EASTER HAS BEEN CANCELED—THEY FOUND THE BODY.”

So to conclude this rambling review, I’d highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fast, funny, and highly enjoyable read. Just go into it expecting something light in tone.

Where to find the author:
Webiste
Goodreads

The Heartwyld

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