Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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description

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

review

Well this is me officially jumping onto the Raven Cycle bandwagon, I cannot even begin to explain how surprised I was by my love for this book.

This book and the entire series is CRAZY hyped and I was very nervous to read it, who wouldn’t be? I didn’t want to end up hating it and having a mob of fangirls attack me. Good news is I am now one of those fangirls and the hype was most definitely correct.

I usually don’t go for any kind of paranormal romance or urban fantasy books since they’re usually full of YA tropes in my opinion and I originally thought “The Raven Boys” would be the same. I mean the description doesn’t do it justice at all, all it did was make me think the book was ALL about Blue falling in love with Gansey and not being able to kiss him. I’ve never been so glad to be proven wrong and I’m extremely happy that I took a chance on this series.

PLOT

First off let me address the things that I was expecting this book to be all about:

  • Poor girl meets rich boy and falls in love (kind of a forbidden love trope)
  • Insta-love ( I mean the description straight up says he’s her true love before they meet)
  • A very plot-centered romance overall

Yes, the description made me think this book was all about true love, kissing, and romance.

But….

It most certainly is the opposite.

This book is in fact more about psychics, spirits, ley lines, magical trees, and the search for an ancient Welsh king who waits to be woken. Now doesn’t all of that sound so much more appealing than the kissing? I know I found it to be, I couldn’t resist turning pages to find out what would happen with all of these things next! Stiefvater intricately weaves the paranormal with the fantastical, sure there are supernatural things happening but yet you still get the very distinct impression of magic. How could you not love a blending of the paranormal and the magical?

The atmosphere that was created, it was eerie and also suspenseful, I loved everything from Blue’s family demonstrating their psychic abilities to Gansey and boy’s quest for Glendower (you know…that ancient Welsh king I mentioned earlier). There are definitely a lot of things happening within the plot of this book, lots of different plot lines to be followed. It may come off confusing right away to some people but the mystery and anticipation is half the fun, trust me! There is also a bit of POV jumping, which I know can confuse some readers or at least annoy, so you’ve been warned about that now.

As far as all of the romance goes though there still is some but it really does take a backseat in the story which I appreciated very much. However, I don’t think any of you romance fans will be too disappointed with it. It’s a very slow-burn romance and it doesn’t completely take over the plot and the romance isn’t exactly between the characters you would expect…..

The pacing did get a little slow at times and it would really go up and down a lot, however, I didn’t mind since my thirst for answers concerning our many plot lines far out-weighed any slow pacing.

Overall I think my favorite part about this story and its plot is how original it feels, which is something I wasn’t expecting at all. I was actually expecting a book full of the same old tropes but I have definitely never read or heard of anything like this before.

characters

Honestly I think the characters are the best part of this whole book, the story is kind of character driven overall. There wasn’t a single character I disliked which is quite the feat on its own. Everyone is complex, developed, and interesting. Emphasis on the interesting. They’re also all very likable in general but most of all they’re realistic.

Blue Sargent is one of our MCs don’t let the description fool you into thinking this is a 1st Person POV told only by Blue because it isn’t. Blue and The Raven Boys themselves are on equal footing as far as the POVs go. I digress, I actually really liked Blue’s character she’s sensible (as she so often calls herself) and quirky and she doesn’t really take shit from anybody. Qualities I love in a heroine. She’s also a kind of the opposite of a special snowflake seeing as how she’s the only member of her family that doesn’t have psychic abilities which I like because it makes her just a bit more relatable as a character. However, Blue does make things “louder” for other psychics but I still don’t view this as special snowflake status.

Then we have our Raven Boys and they really are the stars of the show in my opinion and Blue pales in comparison,  I could sit and sing their praises all damn day. Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah are just complete and utter perfection as far as characters go; they’re flawed, complex, and actually quite….swoon-worthy. I also really love how strong their friendship is and how realistically it’s portrayed. It’s also a nice change of pace to have interesting male main characters in a YA book.

Gansey is very determined in his quest for Glendower and he’s clever and a loyal friend. He’s also not my favorite character I just found something a little lacking with him, don’t get me wrong he’s still a great character and I like him but he just isn’t my favorite. Something just didn’t quite spark my interest enough with Gansey’s character.

Adam makes me heart bleed, I came close to tears every time we switched to his POV. He’s got the whole “rags to riches” thing going on but it doesn’t come without its costs and he’s had to work very hard to get where he’s at. Honestly I just wanted to give him a hug the whole time and he deserves one!

Ronan is by far my favorite character he’s the “bad boy” and I feel cliched for having him be my favorite but he’s so awesome I don’t even care. There’s actually a lot going on with Ronan and he has his fair share of secrets that keeps his character intriguing. Plus everyone loves a sarcastic little shit, right?

Noah is probably one of the single most adorable characters I’ve ever come across in a book, he puts fluffy kittens to shame. He’s quiet and very much in the background but that doesn’t make him any less important. I think the most significant thing I can even say about Noah is that he’s adorable, seriously that’s probably all you need to know.

There are also many secondary characters that are equally complex and play equally important parts in the plot. Mostly Blue’s family. They’re just as quirky and eccentric as Blue and they’re just overall a fun set of characters. Blue’s mom is definitely one of my favorite literary mothers of all time now.

in conclusion

“The Raven Boys” is a great, original tale that blends the paranormal with the mystical and has amazing characters that are easy to connect with.

I’m giving this a rating of 4.5 because I don’t quite feel it’s a full 5 star book but I’m also giving it that extra 0.5 star just because I can’t stop thinking about this book!

Overall I can say that the hype was worth it and I’m so glad to have finally read it.

RECOMMEND

I’m going to just add to about 100,000 other voices telling you to READ THIS BOOK, ok? I think even if it doesn’t sound like your cup of tea you should still take a chance on it like I did, you may end up loving it!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

(As of right now, if you own a Kindle, you can get a copy of this book for $1.99!!)

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Book Review: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

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description

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world…

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

review

At first I had my doubts about this book, I’m usually not a fan of YA romances, but with all of the glowing reviews it was receiving I had to check it out. Plus look at that gorgeous cover! I’m so glad I took a chance on “The Forbidden Wish” because everything about it was utter perfection I don’t have a single complaint about this book. It’s not your typical YA romance or retelling, it really breaks the mold and it’s quite simply…magical.

PLOT

The story this book tells is wonderful it’s filled with magic, jinn, and one heck of a romance. The romance is pretty heavy in this book but it isn’t the sole focus, there’s actually a plot outside of the romance which is why I ended up liking the romance in the end. Because it wasn’t the only thing going on in the book. So while this book is very much a romance, for you un-romantics (like me) please don’t let that deter you because this book has so much more to offer!

There’s a solid amount of world-building and mythology, we get information on the different types of jinn as well as their home world and why humans don’t get along well with them. I really appreciated the attention to such details because Khoury could have just thrown a jinni into the book and not have any sort of back story or mythology to go along with it. While “The Forbidden Wish” is very much a romance I really liked that it maintained YA fantasy elements as well,  I’m a stickler for world building in fantasy settings and this one didn’t disappoint.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the way Zahra narrates the story, she addresses “Habiba” throughout the tale and slowly reveals who she was and what she meant to Zahra as the plot unfolds. Of course as we learn about “Habiba” we also learn about Zahra’s past as well, this added so much more to the plot and I loved how it blended the past and present together and it really made for a more interesting reading experience.

The writing in “The Forbidden Wish” is really one of the most stunning things about it. I know I talk a lot about pretty writing but Khoury’s is exceptional! There’s so much detail in her descriptions that you could picture everything vividly and you could practically feel the magic in her words. I could honestly reread this book over and over again just for the writing.

characters

I’ve got two words to describe the characters in “The Forbidden Wish”: Girl Power. Sure there’s Aladdin and few other male characters but they really pale in comparison to the women in this book.

Zahra is an all-powerful, badass, feisty, and clever jinni. However, at the same time she’s imperfect and lonely and all she wants is to be free to do as she pleases with her life. Romance isn’t the first and foremost thought in her head, she desires freedom. I actually really liked how selfish Zahra was because as I said she was an imperfect character, Zahra wants her freedom no matter the cost and she loves the people she cares about fiercely no matter the cost. I loved the depth to her character, Zahra is a fantastic heroine.

Then we have Princess Caspida and her Watchmaidens, remember how I said Zahra was badass? Well these girls are even more badass. Honestly I wish the book would have spent some more time on these ladies because they were a little more interesting than Zahra and Aladdin. Caspida wants what is best for her people and actually does something about it, she fights and does everything in her power to undermine her uncle’s (he’s our Jafar) hold on the city. They’re the embodiment of Girl Power, seriously.

I’m a little undecided about my feelings on Aladdin, I think I like Disney Aladdin a little more but he’s not a terrible character. He just didn’t feel as developed as the women, or maybe in all of the kickass, awesome light of Zahra, Caspida, and the Watchmaidens he just couldn’t compete. Honestly, he’s more of a secondary character because the women in “The Forbidden Wish” take more of the central role. Although I will say he was reckless in the adorable way that Disney Aladdin was.

There are also some secondary characters that have a sliver of development but are mostly devices used to set certain plot points into motion. We have Caspida’s father, the Sultan, as well as her uncle, the vizier, (our Jafar, if you will) and his son who is betrothed to Caspida (our Iago). I think you’ll have more fun making comparisons between these characters and the Disney ones than you will reading about them, however they are important to the story. We also have some jinni that make a few appearances such as Nardukha, King of the Jinn, and his son, the prince. All make quite formidable villains as well, even if they aren’t quite as developed as our main characters.

romance

This book is all about that romance and I was won over by it and trust me when I tell you that’s no easy feat. It takes quite a lot impress me with a YA romance since they’re usually so riddled with tropes such as insta-love and love triangles. Neither of these are present in this book and it’s such a breath of fresh air. No insta-love.

Aladdin and Zahra’s romance is “forbidden” because he is human and she is jinn, which results in a very slow burn romance because Zahra knows she can’t be with him or they’ll both end up paying the price. She tries to keep her distance in order to spare Aladdin but she slowly falls for him and honestly I shipped them so much by the end of the book. I really enjoyed their romance.

Although at a point during the story Aladdin tries to win over Caspida to further his own agenda and I kind of would have liked to see a romance between these two. She is after all our badass “Princess Jasmine”, I don’t know it’s just something I personally would have liked to happen. Don’t get me wrong I loved Aladdin with Zahra but it would have been interesting to have it play out the other way as well.

in conclusion

Overall I LOVED this book and honestly found nothing wrong with it at all. It has excellent world-building, characters, and even I was won over by the romance. My only problem with it is that it’s a stand alone! I would love to read more of Zahra and Aladdin’s adventures! “The Forbidden Wish” is definitely one of my new favorites.

RECOMMEND

I highly recommend reading this book especially if you love retellings and even if you don’t like books heavy on the romance I think you should give it a try anyways, I mean after all I loved it and I am not a romance reader.

Honestly I just recommend this for everyone, if I could buy you all copies so you’d read it I would!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

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Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

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description

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

review

This book is the perfect amount of weird and definitely 100% unique. Laini Taylor is a master of taking elements of real mythology and twisting it into something new and original. In this case the angels vs. demons type mythology and let me tell you: she nails it. After reading this along with her other book “Lips Touch: Three Times” I can safely say she’s one of my new favorite authors and I will buy/read anything this woman writes.

PLOT

Where do I even begin? It’s simply amazing. The story has no problem keeping your attention by feeding you bits of information at a time that leave you craving more. It isn’t exactly a fast paced book though, in fact the pacing slowed down a bit in the middle. However, the promise of answers to certain plot points will definitely push you onward. There also a lot of big reveals and twists throughout the story that I didn’t find to be very predictable, sure there are some things you may see coming but many that you also won’t.

I’ve seen many other reviewers complain about “info-dumping” in this book but I personally didn’t feel that way about it. The world that Laini Taylor created is so unique and fascinating all I wanted was more information. So even if there were loads of info being thrown at me I didn’t mind it in the least bit.

Have I mentioned the world building yet? Yes? Well I’m going to do it again because it’s just so good. The mythology and world that Laini has crafted for us is just absolutely amazing, nothing lacks for detail. She takes the classic concept of “angels vs. demons” and makes it into something completely new and original. If you think you’ve”read it all before” you are so, so wrong my friend. “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” is a whole different breed. This is definitely a story you can completely immerse yourself in.

The absolute best part about this book though is Laini Taylor’s writing, it is complete and utter perfection. I could gush all day. It’s beautiful, elegant, and very lyrical. Honestly I’d read her grocery list. She also doesn’t dumb anything down or spoon feed information to help us figure out what’s going on and that’s what really helped with the unpredictability of the story. Extremely refreshing for YA.

One last note on the plot: I’m usually not a fan of paranormal stories especially paranormal romances but this one blends so well with fantasy that it truly makes for an exceptional story that I couldn’t resist loving it!

characters

Seeing as how Laini Taylor brought the world of “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” to life, it’s really no surprise she succeeded in the same way with the characters. Every character is fleshed out including the secondary characters. If there’s one thing I appreciate in books it’s well developed secondary characters.

Karou is exactly the kind of heroine I love in my books: the strong, independent girl. She’s not some super badass and she’s not a damsel either, I like how she’s a sort of in-between type it makes her so much more realistic and relateable. Karou may not be able to kick everyone’s ass with any Special Snowflake gifts but she definitely won’t be running to have someone else save her!

Akiva wasn’t as developed as the others in my opinion, I didn’t really feel for his character. and his narrative was not as strong as Karou’s.  Don’t get me wrong he isn’t a bad character by any means but I’m hoping he’ll be a little more interesting in the rest of the series, maybe become more of the heartthrob everyone seems to think he is….

romance

I wasn’t a super big fan of it but it wasn’t awful either which is always a plus and you do have a couple of the usual YA tropes: insta-love and forbidden love. However, I feel that saying it’s insta-love isn’t very fair since it is explained/justified later. No spoilers though! The forbidden love is done so well in this story that I don’t even want to call it a cliche, I wanted them to be together so badly and I was actually rooting for them! That’s how you do it!

It really is a decent romance and I am very picky with my YA romances, but there are a few “romantic scenes” that did drag on. There’s a lot of description which is fine since Laini’s writing is amazing but it did get a little tedious and a bit too…fluffy for me.

I blame any dislikes I have for the romance on the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of Akiva though.

in conclusion

“Daughter of Smoke and Bone” is a truly wonderful, unique book. The mythology and world are very colorful and the writing is gorgeous. I couldn’t ask for a better combination! I absolutely cannot wait to continue on with this series.

RECOMMEND

Yes, yes, yes I do recommend it very highly. If you’re a fan of original mythology, great world-building, lyrical writing, and stories that are a bit odd but ultimately fascinating then this is for you!

 Links: Goodreads / Amazon

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ARC Review: Once Upon A Dream by Liz Braswell

 

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description

What if the sleeping beauty never woke up? Once Upon a Dream marks the second book in a new YA line that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways.

It should be simple–a dragon defeated, a slumbering maiden, a prince poised to wake her. But when said prince falls asleep as soon as his lips meet the princess’s, it is clear that this fairy tale is far from over.

With a desperate fairy’s last curse infiltrating her mind, Princess Aurora will have to navigate a dangerous and magical landscape deep in the depths of her dreams. Soon she stumbles upon Phillip, a charming prince eager to join her quest. But with Maleficent’s agents following her every move, Aurora struggles to discover who her true allies are, and moreover, who she truly is. Time is running out. Will the sleeping beauty be able to wake herself up?

review

****Thank you to Disney Press and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review****

DNF @ 35%

This was a huge disappointment for me I was very eager to read a twisted retelling of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and what I got instead was a snoozefest. I usually never DNF books and I feel terrible for having to do it to an ARC but honestly no one should have to force their way through this book.

I should have known better than to attempt reading through this when the first in this series of Twisted Tales got less than stellar reviews from reviewers I trust. Alas, the Disney lover in me could not grasp the idea that a twisted version of a Disney movie could be bad. “Once Upon A Dream” definitely proved me wrong on that.

My main problem with this book was the narrative and writing style it was dull and overly simplistic. There were far too many long descriptions of everything that went on longer than they should have. Dialogue between characters was few and far between and what dialogue there was, was very short and immature.

The plot was excruciatingly slow and boring, there was almost no story to even speak of within the 35% I read. Now if absolutely nothing is happening for 35% of a book then there’s no way I’m finishing it.

Everything about “Once Upon A Dream” (the plot, the characters, and the writing) were one-dimensional and flat. Nothing was developed and nothing was explained. You’re basically expected to have knowledge of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty before starting, which for the most part I’m sure isn’t a problem since why would you be reading a twisted version of it if you haven’t seen it, right? The only problem with that is if you haven’t seen Sleeping Beauty then you’d have zero idea of why or what is going on in this story. Even I was wondering what the heck was happening and why and I’ve seen the movie!

The most disappointing part of this book were the characters. Aurora was such a wasted character, she was way too boring and naive. Not to mention her favorite thing to do was sleep, I mean really? Sleeping is her favorite? Because she’s “Sleeping Beauty”? How original……

Maleficent was not nearly as wickedly evil as she could have been and Prince Phillip was foolish and a little spineless. Any other secondary characters were bland and expendable.

in conclusion

Overall I really liked the general idea of this boo, I mean twisted version of our beloved Disney movies? Come on, who wouldn’t get excited? Alas, it was executed very poorly and feel extremely short. “Once Upon A Dream” is a big disappointment and I won’t be reading any other books in this series unfortunately.

RECOMMEND

Nope, even if you’re a Disney fan I can’t recommend you this book. It doesn’t do Disney’s Sleeping Beauty any sort of justice. In fact, instead of reading this book just go watch the movie, you’re much better off.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

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Book Review: The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase & The Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan

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description

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he’s tracked down by a man he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

review

First off I would like to say that I honestly enjoyed the Percy Jackson books a lot more but I still enjoyed “The Sword of Summer”. They both have TONS of similarities and it was almost a little annoying how similar the two actually are. There’s nothing really new here, people.

PLOT

This pretty much explains the entire plot: Percy Jackson + Norse Mythology = The Sword of Summer.

I mean there’s gods, demigods, magical artifacts, prophecies, & camps *cough* excuse me I mean HOTELS for said demigods. It’s really the same formula with a few changes.

While nothing in this book is necessarily game changing it still managed to be a fun read. It was fast paced and had me zipping through all 500 of its pages, although it did tend to drag the tiniest bit during certain parts. I think it’s easy to blame it on the book’s length, you can only stretch out the plot so much before it slows down a little. Although I will venture to say that you’ll be having so much fun reading it the page number will do little to deter you.

The mythological elements were still interesting and entertaining as well. Riordan once again immerses us in a wonderfully crafted world where ancient myths and the modern world collide. It was fun recognizing the few things I know of Norse mythology in the book but I also really enjoyed learning more as well.

Some of the events and happenings in the storyline itself were a little predictable too, I mean once you’ve read PJ then it isn’t too hard to see where this book is going. I’m not complaining about this too much since it didn’t actually spoil my read through so much and it IS a middle grade book . That being said though, it is definitely still readable for teenagers, young adults, and anyone older than that even.

Here’s another little tidbit: it helps to read Percy Jackson before this since there are some references to it, including a cameo by a major PJ character!

On one last, semi-plot related note. I enjoyed Riordan’s writing, it’s simplistic, fun, and entertaining. It made for very easy reading.

characters

The characters are basically the BEST part of any Riordan book, am I right? Magnus Chase is so lovable, witty, sassy, and just downright hilarious. I adore him! He is literally a sarcastic, little sass-master and those fun qualities are what I love most about Riordan’s characters.

All of those factors can apply to almost every character in the book as well. They’re all fun, silly, and flamboyant. From Magnus’s elf and dwarf protectors to Thor the god of thunder himself, they were all memorable and amusing.

There’s also some diversity in the characters, we have an Arabic female character as well as a hearing impaired elf. They are pretty badass as well.

in conclusion

Sorry for such a short review, but there isn’t really much to say concerning this book since it isn’t anything different and what I have to say isn’t anything ya’ll haven’t heard before, I’m sure.

Overall there isn’t anything new here, it follows the same old “Riordan formula”. Although I did complain about this point a lot this is STILL a super fun book and I do recommend it if you loved his previous books. (Also excuse my excessive use of the word “fun”, it really is the perfect word to describe this book).

RECOMMEND

Definitely ,and like I’ve said throughout this entire review, I recommend it for any lover of Riordan’s past books or for anyone looking for a light-hearted, fun, mythology-filled book!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

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