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Title: Mad Girl
Author: Bryony Gordon
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 336 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Bryony Gordon has OCD.

It's the snake in her brain that has told her ever since she was a teenager that her world is about to come crashing down: that her family might die if she doesn't repeat a phrase 5 times, or that she might have murdered someone and forgotten about it. It's caused alopecia, bulimia, and drug dependency. And Bryony is sick of it. Keeping silent about her illness has given it a cachet it simply does not deserve, so here she shares her story with trademark wit and dazzling honesty.


I came across this book in a London bookshop and thought it sounded interesting. I knew absolutely nothing about Bryony Gordon before starting the book, and still don't really have any clue if she's a person you're "supposed" to know.

Even so, I thought the book was fascinating. Most people know somebody with at least a mild case of OCD, but it's still rare to see as severe cases as Bryony's. It was interesting to see how it affected all aspects of her life, and heartbreaking to hear how little help she got from the health care system, simply because it's a mental illness rather than a physical one (imagine people having to wait 3 weeks to get a broken bone set!). Unfortunately I've heard this complaint before, about the British NHS, but I wouldn't automatically assume it's any better in other countries.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Curvy Girls Club
Author: Michele Gorman
Genre: Chick-lit
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 310
Date read: December 2015

Pixie, Ellie, Katie and Jane have been best friends since meeting at Slimming Zone. Tired of being judged on the number of calories they consume, they decide to form a different kind of club. The fun evenings they spend together, not worrying about their size, make them happier than they'e been for years!

But the club doesn't stop real life from getting in the way and together the girls have to address some much bigger issues than just their weight.

Will Pixie ever be brave enough to leave her abusive husband Trevor? Can Jane ever regain her confidence and go back to work as a TV presenter? Will Katie always carry a torch for the office lothario? And what if Ellie lets her all-consuming jealousy destroy her relationship with 'The One'?


A fairly run-of-the-mill chick-lit. It kept me well entertained for most of the ~300 pages, but I did have to put it down from time to time as it took some twists and turns I wasn't a huge fan of... nor felt were justified or in character... at least not the character we'd been introduced to for the previous 200 pages or so. Especially when it came to Pixie and Alex. I found their sudden changes (trying to stay out of spoiler territory) TOO sudden and didn't really buy it.

But while it definitely had some issues, I was mainly looking for an easy, fluffy read while sick, and it fit the bill perfectly there, so I'm inclined to be generous with my rating... it does slightly bother me that none of the women on the cover are actually overweight though.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Debt of Bones (Sword of Truth Prequel)
Author: Terry Goodkind
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 116
Date read: April, 2013

Abby's struggling to win the aid of the wizard Zedd Zorander, the most important man alive. Abby is trapped, not only between both sides of the war, but in a mortal conflict between two powerful men. For Zedd, who commands power most men can only imagine, granting Abby's request would mean forsaking his sacred duty. With the storm of the final battle about to break, both Abby and Zedd are caught in a desperate fight to save the life of a child... but neither can escape the shadow of an ancient betrayal. With time running out, their only choice may be a debt of bones. The world - for Zedd, for Abby, for everyone - will never again be the same.

More a novella than a novel in its own right, and it won't make much sense unless you are familiar with the Sword of Truth universe - at least the first book anyway.

That said, to one very familiar with the Sword of Truth universe, it was a fun insight into Zedd's life before the events of Wizard's First Rule. It was a quick and easy read, but I'd recommend it only to people who want to "know more about Zedd" as the plot itself was nothing special.
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Title: Faith of the Fallen
Author: Terry Goodkind
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: Audiobook ~30hrs
Date read: January, 2012

The Seeker of Truth and his Mother Confessor sweetie are both looking a little worse for the wear after their chime-hunt in Soul of the Fire. To top that off, Lord Rahl finds himself a reluctant prophet with the vision that their cause, the fight for freedom against the Imperial Order, is essentially sunk. (Chalk that up to part of the Wizard's First Rule: people really are stupid.) The two lovers soon find themselves separated, Richard off to the Old World thanks to treacherous Sister of the Dark Nicci, and Kahlan left behind, forced to betray Richard and his prophecy by raising an army to fend off the approaching armies of Emperor Jagang.

Whereas "Soul of the Fire" wasn't as good as I remembered, this one was even better than I remembered, so it all evens out :)

Not as many different story lines in this book. Richard and Kahlan are apart from this book, so of course we have theirs, but neither Zedd nor Ann get much pagetime on their own. That didn't bother me too much, I've always thought Richard's storyline the most interesting in this book. I'm fascinated by the mentality of the Order and the Old World - once again proving that communism is a good idea in theory, but it'll never work in practise - people are too corrupt, too egoistical and too lazy.

I found it a tad far-fetched that a simple statue could have such a profound effect on people, but I guess it only works like that within the confines of a society that surrounds people with death and ugliness.
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Title: Soul of the Fire
Author: Terry Goodkind
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
# pages: Audiobook ~24hrs

Richard Rahl has traveled far from his days as a simple forest guide. Emperor of D'Hara, war wizard, the Seeker of Truth - none of these roles mean as much to him as his newest. For Richard Rahl is now husband to Kahlan Amnell.

But their wedding is the key that unlocks a faraway spell, and now a deadly power pours forth across the world.

Separated from the Sword of Truth, stripped of their magic, Richard and Kahlan must journey across the Midlands to confront a secret from their past, and a trap that could tear them apart. For there's no place so dangerous as a world without magic.

I still enjoy this series, but boy there was a lot of sermonizing and politics in this installment! I'm sorry, I don't care to read about politics - not even fictional politics.

Apart from that, I did enjoy the book though. I'm glad that Richard and Kahlan actually got to spend most of this one together for once! I did miss Zedd though, and hope we get to hear more about him, Ann, Verna and Nathan in the next book. Oh, and whatever happened to Addie? Anybody remember?
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Title: Temple of the Winds
Author: Terry Goodkind
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
# pages: Audiobook ~27hrs
Date read: November, 2011

Wielding the Sword of Truth, Richard Rahl has battled death itself and come to the defense of the D'Haran people. But now the power-mad Emperor Jagang confronts Richard with a swift and inexorable foe: a mystical plague cutting a deadly swath across the land and slaying thousands of innocent victims.

To quench the inferno, he must seek remedy in the wind...

To fight it Richard and his beloved Kahlan Amnell will risk everything to uncover the source of the terrible plague-the magic sealed away for three millennia in the Temple of the Winds.

Not quite as good as the first three books in the series. The entire thing about gaining entrance to the Temple of the Winds annoyed me, as did Nadine. Still a good book though, and I'll definitely continue with the rest of the series. Oh, and I am glad that Richard, Kahlan and Shota achieved a truce of sorts.
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Title: Blood of the Fold
Author: Terry Goodkind
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: Audiobook ~23hrs
Date read: November, 2011

The Blood of the Fold, a group of fanatical anti-magic zealots, have joined the forces thwarted by Richard and Kahlan. They are the unwitting pawns of a sorcerous evil from the Old World, a realm that has been magically sealed for thousands of years. Richard, Kahlan, and their allies now face the combined might of two worlds - the old and the new. This stunning confrontation threatens an armageddon of unimaginable proportions unless Richard and Kahlan can believe in the power of their love and their faith in the Truth.

Even after multiple readings, this continues to be one of my all-time favourite series. It was a bit frustrating that it took Richard and Kahlan so long to get back together, but that's my only real complaint here. Sometimes it gets frustrating when you try to follow several different plotlines at once, but I think it worked quite well in this one, and loved especially Ann's and Velma's storylines even if they did have very little to do with Richard.
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Title: Stone of Tears
Author: Terry Goodkind
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
# pages: Audiobook ~39hrs
Date read: October, 2011

The veil of the underworld has been torn.

And Darken Rahl, from beyond the veil, has begun to summon a sinister power worse than any he has wielded before.

Armed with the Sword of Truth, Richard Cypher, now become Richard Rahl, must learn to control his own new-found power; or the world will spin into darkness unending.

The Sisters of Light promise help. While Richard journeys to their forbidden city, his beloved Kahlan sets out for Ayindril, citadel of the old wizards, in search of Zedd and the help only he can lend. War, suffering, torture, and deceit lie on their paths. So, also, does their destiny.

I still love this series as much as I always did :) On my first read-through, this was actually my least favourite, because I didn't like all the pointlessness of getting Richard to the Sisters of the Light. Of course, I now know that it had to happen to set up the plot for the next books, and somehow don't mind as much. I do understand Richard's frustration with Sister Verna and Pasha though - they were insanely overbearing at times!

I really don't get why Kahlan didn't use her power against Prince What's-his-face and the wizard - that could have solved the conspiracy right there! But of course, then the prophecy wouldn't have come to pass.
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Title: Wizard's First Rule
Author: Terry Goodkind
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
# pages: ~33 hours
Date read: August, 2011

In the aftermath of the brutal murder of his father, a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, appears in Richard Cypher's forest sanctuary seeking help ... and more. His world, his very beliefs, are shattered when ancient debts come due with thundering violence.

In their darkest hour, hunted relentlessly, tormented by treachery and loss, Kahlan calls upon Richard to reach beyond his sword-- to invoke within himself something more noble. Neither knows that the rules of battle have just changed ... or that their time has run out.

Wizard's First Rule has been one of my all-time favourite fantasy books ever since I first discovered it, almost 15 years ago. I've probably read it about 6-8 times since then. While the later books in the series definitely have their weaknesses, this first one is fantasy when it's best (certainly beats LotR any day... but then I never was a Tolkien fan ;) ).

I always find it a lot harder to write reviews of books that I love rather than books I just like, because it feels like it just ends up as too much gushing. But I love the characters and the plot and the universe that Terry Goodkind has created. It's all neatly tied together in his writing, and I feel like I can disappear into it completely. This was my first time listening to the book rather than reading it myself, and I found myself doing extra loads of dishes, just so that I could listen to another chapter or two ;-)
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Title: The Physician
Author: Noah Gordon
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 720
Date read: July, 2010

In the 11th century, Rob Cole left poor, disease-ridden London to make his way across the land, hustling, juggling, peddling cures to the sick - and discovering the mystical ways of healing. It was on his travels that he found his own very real gift for healing - a gift that urged him on to become a doctor. So all consuming was his dream, that he made the perilous, unheard-of journey to Persia, to its Arab universities where he would undertake a transformation that would shape his destiny forever.

I think this is the 5th or 6th time I read this, and I enjoy it every bit as much as on my first read-through. It's a long book, but there's a reason for the length, as it allows the author (and the reader!) to dwell on the atmosphere of the different places Cole visits, on the things he learn and on the people he meet. Not that it's slow-moving - quite the contrary, I have a very hard time putting it down once I've started it.

I don't know much about England or Persia in the 11th century, so I have no idea how accurate the descriptions are, but they fascinate me nonetheless, and I love reading about the life of a physician of that era.

It's one of those rare books that draw me in completely, and where I have a very hard time letting it go even after I've turned the last page.
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Title: My Sergei: A Love Story
Author: Ekaterina Gordeeva
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 187
Date read: June, 2010

Thrown together as children by the Soviet regime and told to skate for the good of the state, Sergei Grinkov and Katia Gordeeva became the most celebrated pairs skaters in the world--falling madly in love, marrying, and having a beautiful baby daughter. But after winning two Olympic gold medals and four World Championships, Katia's world collapsed when Sergei suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 28. A deeply moving, heartfelt memoir of their remarkable lives, this is Katia's final love letter to her beloved Sergei.

I picked this up because I'm fascinated by figure skating, and thought it sounded really interesting. And it was in parts, but unfortunately Ekaterina Gordeeva is obviously not a writer, so certain sections of the book were rather clunky making the emotions difficult to relate to.

Two things really effected my experience of the book though. The first was discovering that I may actually have seen Ekaterina and Sergie perform 'live'! At least I remember my mum taking my sister and me to an international skating competition back when I was a teen, and it might very well have been the 1994 World Championship in Copenhagen.

The second was thanks to modern technology - about halfway through the book, I realized that many of the competitions mentioned would probably be on YouTube. Honestly, it was a really, really odd feeling to read about a program, and then sit down to watch it on the computer - especially knowing that Sergei died rehearing for just such a competition.

It was a surprisingly slow read, but well worth the time spent on it.
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Title: The Gorgon's Gaze (Companions Quartet #2)
Author: Julia Golding
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 303
Date read: March, 2010

Connie Lionheart's calculating great-aunt and uncle try to take her away from the tantalizing reach of the Society for the Protection of Mythical Creatures. What they don't realize (or do they?) is that Connie is the Society's most important member--she is the only universal companion able to bond with all mythical creatures. Connie's great gift also puts her in great danger, as the evil shape-shifter Kullervo needs her power to destroy the Society once and for all. But how can Connie help anyone, even herself, when she hasn't learned how to use her gift yet? Connie and her friends team together again to protect the fragile bonds between humans, creatures, and the world we must share.

Just as good as the first book in the series. It fully lived up to my expectations and perhaps even exceeded them. I would have liked to see Connie spend more time learning about her new-found abilities, but the plot quickly made it very obvious that that wasn't going to happen. As a single book in a series, that didn't bother me too much, but I hope Julia Golding will return to Connie's training in the next book.

I'll be very interested to see where Connie's fight with Kullervo will take her, and thought Julia Golding did a good job in introducing the dillemma she may eventually face in having to beat her.

Entertaining fantasy, and a quick read. At 303 pages I read it in just under 3 hours.
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Title: Naked Empire (Sword of the Truth #8)
Author: Terry Goodkind
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 660
Date read: September, 2009

Ancient sorcerous barriers have been accidentally toppled, freeing the unpleasant "Imperial Order" to rape, loot and pillage the rest of the world. The Emperor and his chief minion are revolting creatures whose sadism begins where Vlad the Impaler left off. Bandakar, a land of pacifists, has little chance of survival until someone gets the bright idea of giving the admired liberator Lord Rahl - that is, Richard - a dose of slow-acting poison. There is no antidote until he, personally and more or less single-handedly, frees Bandakar from the invading horde while, as pacifists, the natives will stand clear and disapprove of the slaughter. Some lessons in ethics and realism need to be learned here...

I read the first 6 books of the Sword in Truth series years ago and LOVED them. Especially the first three are some of my all-time favourite books. Then I read Pillars of Creation... Terry Goodkind really dropped the ball there. I missed Kahlan and Richard as the main protagonists and it just didn't work for me, so I never got around to reading the rest of the series.

Now that they're all out, I figured it was time to finish up - I owed it to the first books ;)

And with Naked Empire Goodkind got back on the horse. Just as captivating as the first 6 books, it drew me right in, and I finished the 660 pages in just two days. I'm now utterly immersed in the universe and wish I had time to reread the rest of the series.

That's not to say it didn't have its flaws. I certainly don't remember the first books as having this much monologuing, and there were some issues I felt weren't properly explained near the end of the book - it seemed like that was more a case of forgetfulness than because Goodkind couldn't figure out how to explain it though.

So yes, I do see the book's short-comings... but I still loved it.
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Title: Secret of the Sirens (Companions Quartet #1)
Author: Julia Golding
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 318
Date read: September, 2009

When Connie is sent to live with her aunt, she knows it's going to be one more place where she doesn't fit in. But soon she realises how wrong she is. The seaside town is full of adults and children who have strange links to creatures. It's the heart of the secret Society for the Protection of Mythical Creatures, a group of people sworn to ensure that mythical beasts are kept safe.

Normally the creatures and their chosen humans work in harmony. But something abnormal is happening here. The Sirens, who for generations have kept their deadly song to themselves, are once again luring humans to their deaths. It doesn't take long for Connie to realise that the victims are oil workers. The Sirens are fed-up with their seas being polluted, but should the Society protect the Sirens or the oil industry?

Connie doesn't think she has a role to play, until it becomes clear that she's a Universal - the first person in over a century who can communicate with every type of beast on earth and in the air. Her power is immense. It corrupted the previous Universal... and now he's back. And he'll use any means he can - from violence to the terrifying Storm Giants - to turn Connie to the dark side.

I was utterly charmed by this very fascinating first book in a new quartet by Julia Golding. I only "discovered" Julia Golding about a year ago, but if she continues in this fashion, she'll soon become a new favourite fantasy author.

What I really loved about Secret of the Sirens is that it's not as much about magic as about special abilities, and it takes place in our world. Too many fantasy authors invite new worlds, and that is occasionally necessary, but I think it takes a special talent to write a believable fantasy novel in our own universe.

Though the first book in a series, Secret of the Sirens can also mostly stand on its own. The complication of the book is resolved, while still leaving threads open to pick up in later books - rather similarly to Harry Potter actually.

I read it in a day - simply couldn't put it down.
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Title: The Ship Between the Worlds
Author: Julia Golding
Genre: YA, fantasy
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 256
Date read: September, 2009

David Jones loves ships, particularly ships in bottles. His latest, the Golden Needle, is a fine pirate vessel. So when David wakes up to find himself being press-ganged on board, he assumes it's a dream. The only thing is, he isn't asleep!

The Golden Needle is crewed by a motley assortment of fiendish pirates, led by the once-terrifying Captain Fisher. The only thing they have in common is the desire to atone for past misdeeds, and a lot of gold thread. Now, trying to be good, they are desperately attempting to stitch together the many worlds - including our own - that are sliding towards obliteration in Inferno Rim.

But not every pirate in this new dimension is good. Some still have a yearning for gold. In hot pursuit of the Golden Needle is the Scythe, crewed by pirates who live only to steal the golden thread anchoring the worlds. Soon the Golden Needle will run out of time and golden thread - and then her crew will have to turn and face the Scythe. What will David do when the day of battle dawns? Who will win this fight to the death? If it is the Scythe, who will save the worlds? A swashbuckling adventure to shiver yer timbers!

In style the plot reminded me of a mixture of Peter Pan, Treasure Island and Pirates of the Caribbean. A sweet book for kids and YA. I hadn't expected much from it, so I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, I'm quite a bit older than the target audience, but it was charming enough to entertain me as well.
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Title: Dragonfly
Author: Julia Golding
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 398
Date read: December 2008, July 2010

Princess Taoshira is appalled when she is ordered to marry Prince Ramil ac Burinholt in order to unite their lands. And he's not too pleased either. They hate each other on sight.

So when she and Ramil are kidnapped, they fear there's no escape - either from their kidnappers or from each other.

Can they put aside their differences long enough to survive ambush, unarmed combat, brainwashing and imprisonment? And will the people they meet on their adventure - including a circus strongman, a daring rebel leader, a sinister master of spies and the best female fighter they have ever seen - help them or betray them to the enemy...?

A gorgeous fantasy novel with lots of humour, romance and action. I was especially intrigued by how Tashi and Ramil not only had to learn how to get along, but had to learn to accept the traditions and culture of each other's countries.

And I was totally taken in by Tashi's self-appointed protector Gordoc, who in his simple-mindedness often ended up more insightful than all of his so-called 'knowledgeable' friends.

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Title: The Death Committee
Author: Noah Gordon
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 6/10
# pages: 361
Date read: November, 2008

Summary: At Suffolk County General Hospital, three brilliant young men are brought together by their ambition and passionate dedication to life. But they work in the shadow of the Death Committee, a formidable hospital tribunal where doctors sit in judgment of their peers, deciding who is to blame when a death could have been prevented. During an unforgettable year of love and fear, failure and victory, the young doctors must face the crucial dramas and triumphs of hospital life.

Review: To somebody who usually loves Noah Gordon's books, this was a huge disappointment. Slow-moving and not nearly as captivating as any of his other books. I kept reading because until now he's been one of my favourites authors, so I kept thinking the book would improve. And it did - I started to get interested in the characters - but it still can't hold a candle to any of the others.

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Title: The Last Jew
Author: Noah Gordon
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 8/10
# pages: 367
Date read: January, 2008


Summary: During the Spanish Inquisition, a Jew had only two choices: flee the country or convert to Catholicism. The Toledano family decides to flee, but before they can leave, their home is burned by a mob, and only 16-year-old Yonah is left in Toledo. Persuaded that his father's death and that of his older brother three years earlier were caused by the same man, the teen flees on the family's burro and begins the life of a wanderer, a fugitive who changes his name and pretends to be converted. He works as a shepherd in the hills, as a deckhand on ships trading along the Spanish coast, and finally as an apprentice to a physician in Saragossa. After the death of his mentor, Yonah takes over the practice and becomes well-known and respected. On a trip north, he stumbles on a remote and beautiful valley settled by conversos like himself. There he falls in love with a young widow and the two return to Saragossa and make a life together, ostensibly Christians, but secretly Jews. Finally confronting the cleric responsible for the murder of his father and brother, the wandering Jew finds peace at last. This exciting tale of 16th-century Spain has a mystery involving a stolen reliquary, a sinister Inquisitor, and a host of colorful characters. Most of all, though, it is the story of a resourceful and courageous young man determined to remain faithful to his religion.

Review: I really enjoyed The Last Jew, but at the same time it made me so angry. As far as I know it's quite historically correct, and the treatment of Jews in the 16th century upsets me. Genocide is always horrible, and when it's brought about by Christians who really ought to know better, it makes it a so much more tragic and shameful action.

It's not as well written as Shaman and The Physician but still well worth reading.

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Title: Memoirs of a Geisha
Author: Arthur Golden
Genre: Historical fiction, cultural
Rating: 10/10
# pages: 428
Date read: June, 2006

Summary: "I wasn't born and raised to be a Kyoto geisha....I'm a fisherman's daughter from a little town called Yoroido on the Sea of Japan." How nine-year-old Chiyo, sold with her sister into slavery by their father after their mother's death, becomes Sayuri, the beautiful geisha accomplished in the art of entertaining men, is the focus of this fascinating first novel. Narrating her life story from her elegant suite in the Waldorf Astoria, Sayuri tells of her traumatic arrival at the Nitta okiya (a geisha house), where she endures harsh treatment from Granny and Mother, the greedy owners, and from Hatsumomo, the sadistically cruel head geisha. But Sayuri's chance meeting with the Chairman, who shows her kindness, makes her determined to become a geisha. Under the tutelage of the renowned Mameha, she becomes a leading geisha of the 1930s and 1940s.

Review: I tried reading this when it first came out, but got stuck somewhere in the first chapter. I picked it up again this month and devoured it in 24 hours. It's a wonderful book that left me wanting more. If you haven't read ths yet, I can HIGHLY recommend it. Definitely the best book I've read this month.

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