Friday, February 22, 2013

The Writer's Cave: A guest post and giveaway with B.C. Burgess!


Today's guest is B.C. Burgess, author of Descension! She's on tour with AToMR Tours to promote her new book, and I'm lucky enough to be the lucky blog hosting :). Huzzah! First let's put a spotlight on Descension shall we?

The Angel
After three years caring for her dying mother, Layla Callaway learns she was adopted under unusual circumstances. Following a cryptic message to seek her birth family in Oregon, Layla uproots her lonely life, quickly finding she descends from witches and wizards. Magic is in her blood, and a handsome family friend is eager to prove it. Through a ring imprinted with her birth parents’ memories, Layla’s enigmatic past comes to light, presenting possibilities and trials more chimerical than her wildest dreams.

The Guardian
Quin’s natural charisma yields plenty of witches, but he longs for the lost witch – the mysterious Layla. He's dreamed about her his entire life, envisioning the day he would lay eyes on her face and aura. When that day arrives, not only is he breathless, he’s confronted with the challenge of a lifetime – an innate need to keep her safe and forever by his side.

The Hunter
Employing fiendish manipulation and manpower, Agro uses the arcane force of others to elevate his supremacy and wealth. Nothing pleases him more than latching on to a mystical vein, and never has there been a more enticing source. The divine witch will be his.


Now, on to the guest post! B.C. Burgess is here to tell you all about her writing cave, where the work gets done and the stories come to life. Don't forget to read on down to the bottom at the end, since there's a giveaway waiting for you as well!

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The Writer’s Cave:

When I told my husband I was going to do a feature called The Writer’s Cave, he laughed, and rightly so. My desk is located three steps from the kitchen, four steps from one of my son’s toy boxes (yes, one of multiple toy boxes), and five steps from the TV and Xbox. The right side of the desktop is stacked with paid bills that need filed; the left side is scattered with notebooks and loose sheets of paper scrawled with ideas and info that I’ll need later (and probably won’t be able to find); and the cubbies are stuffed with unpaid bills and important paperwork (which should also be filed). Down the middle there’s a two-foot wide strip cleared for my coffee, keyboard, and monitor.

No one wants this workspace, and if you need further convincing, refer to the photo of the wilting bamboo plant. That photo was my husband’s idea. After he finished laughing at me, he suggested I snap a picture of the dying bamboo plant as proof that writing gets done in my cave… you know, at the expense of everything else. And he’s absolutely right (don’t you hate when that happens?). This poor, dehydrated bamboo plant, with its crippled little leaves stooped like a ninety-year-old-man, is an innocent captive desperate to escape the busy and unorganized space that is my writer’s cave. 

“But where’s the creativity?” you ask. “How do you draw inspiration and write in such dire conditions?” Well, I’ll tell you. I wait for everyone to go to bed. That’s right, once they’re all tucked in, I sneak to my cave – finally quiet yet never organized – and I… clean? Hell no. I write! Forget cleaning. This is the ONLY time I get to write.

“But what about inspiration?” you ask. To which I reply there’s plenty of inspiration in the world (not to mention the World Wide Web), so I don’t need it on my desk. And all my creativity goes into my work, so designing a creative space isn’t my priority, which is what it’s all about – priority. First comes the six-year-old, then the husband, then the pets, then the writing, and then I’m out of time, so poor little bamboo plant and the rest of my writing cave gets neglected.

Someday I’d love to have a room with four walls and door and a clean desk that’s spitting distance from a bookshelf. No wait, let’s shoot a little higher. Someday I’d love to have a library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a large, pristine desk holding the most advanced computer, and most importantly – an assistant to organize it all and water the bamboo plant. Then maybe my husband won’t laugh at the idea of a writer’s cave feature. And if he does, I’ll make him strip naked and organize my bookshelves, and I’ll call it inspiration. ;)

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I'm a small town girl with big dreams and a wild imagination. I'm addicted to coffee and writing. The combination is my idea of heaven. I read every day, if only to my young son, whom I hope to someday inspire with my passion for writing.

I love hearing from my readers, so feel free to contact me through any of the links below.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Review: Fallen


Media Type: Ebook
Title: Fallen
Author: Laury Falter
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Kindle; 272
Release Date: April 1, 2009
Source: Author
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Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy paranormal romance with an angel focus

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Fallen - the first book in the Guardian Trilogy...

Maggie is unaware of the terrifying fate that awaits her. It isn’t until she lands in New Orleans for a full year at a private high school and her unknown enemies find her does she realize that her life is in danger.

As a mystifying stranger repeatedly intervenes and blocks the attempts on her life, she begins to learn that there is more to him than his need to protect her and that he may be the key to understanding why her enemies have just now arrived.

We meet Maggie as she is entering into a transition point in her life. Used to travelling from place to place, hardly ever settling down for more than a few months, this is the first time she will have roots. Maggie will be living alone in New Orleans. I loved the setting for sure. So rich and vivid. I couldn't wait to see what happened to our protagonist.

Unfortunately I wasn't a huge fan of Maggie after the start of the book. She came into the story as an independent and feisty girl. One who was totally able to take charge if necessary. However the further into the book I read, the more she slowly became a damsel in distress. Someone who needed saving at the drop of a hat, and pining for a guy. I had a hard time with this. Still, I can definitely say that the secondary characters make it all worthwhile! Each time one of them popped into the story it made me smile. I'm hoping in future books Maggie might gain a little of her independence back?

Fallen is a book with a great premise, but sadly it suffers from some definite writing issues. There were points where I was trying to hard to ignore grammatical issues that I actually lost track of where I was in the overall story. As an example, Maggie uses the word "anyways" around 12 times in the first 20 pages. I wouldn't have minded normally. Sometimes being in the narrators head and using their vocabulary is fun. In this case though, I felt like it detracted from my enjoyment of the story. The writing is overall a little forced, just be warned. It does get better about halfway through though.

Apologies if this is a rambling review, but honestly that is how my thoughts are after finishing. I think that Laury Falter definitely has something worthwhile here. I would have liked to see a continuously strong Maggie, and maybe a little bit more character building. Add in some editing and I see a series that I'd be interested in following.



FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Book Review: Untimed


Media Type: Print Book
Title: Untimed
Author: Andy Gavin
Publisher: Mascherato
Pages: Paperback; 325
Release Date: December 17, 2012
Source: Author
-------------------------------------------------------
Content Screening: Violence, Mild Language

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are fans of deep historical fiction with elements of steampunk thrown in.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, even his own mother can’t remember his name. And girls? The invisible man gets more dates.

As if that weren’t enough, when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously.

Still, this isn’t all bad. In fact, there’s this girl, another time traveler, who not only remembers his name, but might even like him! Unfortunately, Yvaine carries more than her share of baggage: like a baby boy and at least two ex-boyfriends! One’s famous, the other’s murderous, and Charlie doesn’t know who is the bigger problem.

When one kills the other — and the other is nineteen year-old Ben Franklin — things get really crazy. Can their relationship survive? Can the future? Charlie and Yvaine are time travelers, they can fix this — theoretically — but the rules are complicated and the stakes are history as we know it.

And there's one more wrinkle: he can only travel into the past, and she can only travel into the future!

What an extremely interesting twist on time travel! I have to admit that, even though this book took some time for me to get into, once I was in it was hard to stop reading. Charlie is a boy who is utterly forgettable. Even his mother needs a reminder to call him by the correct name. I think this is really what drew me in the most. Watching young Charlie, a boy who has no idea that a fantastic adventure is in store for him.

That being said, the time travel part of this book is done very well. While the back story to Charlie's ability isn't really explained in detail, enough is given to let you know that there is one very big problem. Charlie can only travel backwards. Lucky for him he meets a girl traveler who can go forwards! Or is it luck? What ensues is a fast paced, rather dark romp through a story set in a much different time from our own.

Now it's important for me to let you know that Charlie's story is fairly gritty. I understood that by going back in time he was experiencing things that really happened. Of course he would be surrounded by drinks, loose women and even violence. Still, it turned me off a bit at first. I'm not against things like this in YA. In fact, I think it made it easier to accept because it was a different time period. Some of the things Charlie did and went through really bothered me though. I'm not certain how I'd feel giving this to a reader under the age of 16.

More than anything I think that my rating of this book was affected by the immense amount of history poured into it. I loved the steampunk addition, liked the time travel pieces, but felt so bogged down by trying to remember what these two had affected and were trying to fix that sometimes I had to go back and reread pages. It may well be that this isn't my genre, but I'm glad I gave it a shot nonetheless. Read this if you are a fan of historical fiction with a twist.




FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Notes From Ghost Town Giveaway!



Happy Monday my bibliophile friends!

As you may have noticed earlier, today I posted a review of Notes From Ghost Town by Kate Ellison. A mix between paranormal romance and mystery.  Here's the synopsis in case you missed it.

They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death. 

There’s a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there’s a good chance she’s losing her mind completely—just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn’t really there?

With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It’s the only way she can save herself.
Add it on Goodreads


Now, if you're like me, this book is calling your name and you want to read it. Am I right? Well lucky you, I've been offered the chance to give it away! Huzzah!

One winner will receive a hardback copy of Notes From Ghost Town PLUS a paperback copy of The Butterfly Clues.


U.S. and Canada only please! Fill out the form below to enter, and good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Review: Notes From Ghost Town


Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Notes From Ghost Town
Author: Kate Ellison
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Pages: Hardcover; 336
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Source: Publisher
--------------------------------------------------
Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy delving into paranormal romances.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death.

There’s a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there’s a good chance she’s losing her mind completely—just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn't really there?

With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It’s the only way she can save herself.

I've followed Kate Ellison ever since her debut novel blew me away. I fell in love with her writing style, and with the way that she manages to weave in interesting roadblocks for her characters to deal with. That being said, I was thrilled to be offered a chance to read Notes From Ghost Town. I hoped for mystery and maybe even a little romance.

The story actually kicks off with the romance element, and I can't deny that I thought Lucas and Olivia were adorable together. Ellison builds a quick, but believable back story for these two. Friends as children, growing up together, and ultimately ending up at that fork in the road where you wish you could be something more. Isn't that what every girl dreams of? Sadly Lucas dies, and from that point on everything sort of starts to unravel.

It was really tough for me to like Olivia during the majority of the book. Even 10 months after the incident that changed her life, she is withdrawn and angry. I couldn't blame her for missing Lucas, or even for worrying about her mother. What bothered me most was that she absolutely refused to accept any help. Her excuse was always that she didn't want people to think she was crazy, but it just felt forced. Like a way to keep her isolated so things would flow better.

The mystery aspect I was craving was also lacking a bit. I did enjoy the breadcrumbs that Kate Ellison uses to lead the reader on. I would have liked a quicker moving plot though, and possibly less of a paranormal feel to it all. The way that Olivia's mind works made me frustrated at times. I'm sad to say that I almost put this book down about halfway through. I'm glad I didn't, since the ending was great, but it did almost happen.

It's my opinion that Kate Ellison's first book, The Butterfly Clues, is a better fit for me as a reader. This story was a little to slow moving, and a bit more unbelievable. Still, the writing prowess that I fell in love with in the first place is still here. I know I'll be back for anything else that Ms. Ellison writes.




FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Coming Soon on HDB... (2/17/13)



I'm back! Sorry for the slow week, but hey. Real life gets in the way of what I love to do sometimes :). You can always count on me to come back though. So let's get to it!


MONDAY


Monday is a double wammy of Kate Ellison! Check out my review of her newest book, Notes From Ghost Town, in the morning. Then later that afternoon stop by and enter to win both of her books!


TUESDAY


On Tuesday I'll be reviewing Andy Gavin's Untimed, a young adult book with a mixture of steampunk and science fiction. Sounds interesting, yes?


WEDNESDAY


It's reviewapalooza this week, because Wednesday you'll get yourself a review of Snark and Circumstance by Stephanie Wardrop. A retelling of Pride and Prejudice, YA style!


THURSDAY


Continuing the review streak is Laury Falter's Fallen. A book about guardian angels....ooooohhhh....


FRIDAY


Laury herself is in the spotlight on Friday! She's bringing along a copy of Fallen to give away to one lucky winner!


SATURDAY


Another author spotlight on Saturday as well. B.C. Burgess, author of Descension, will be here to talk about her Writer's Cave! Plus, you can enter to win one of eight copies of her book!



So that's it for this week! A busy week indeed. Stay tuned, and happy reading!








Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review: Scent of Darkness


Media Type: Print Book
Title: Scent of Darkness
Author: Margot Berwin
Publisher: Pantheon
Pages: Hardcover; 240
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Source: Publisher
---------------------------------------------
Genre: Paranormal Fiction

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy elegant prose and descriptive writing.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Evangeline is eighteen years old when her grandmother gives her the ultimate gift-a scent she has created just for her. From the moment Eva places a drop on her neck, her entire life changes. Previously unnoticed, she becomes the object of intense desire for everyone around her. Men dance close to her; women dip their noses deep into her hair; even the cats outside her bedroom cry to be near her. Gabriel, the quiet student Eva has admired from afar, falls head-over-heels in love with her. But soon the gift begins to control Eva's life: strangers follow her around, sniffing and touching her at every turn. When Eva meets Michael, an artist who barely registers her smell, Eva wonders if he is the one person who can love her for herself. Or is her scent impossible to escape? A bewitching, wildly imaginative novel steeped in the mythology of perfume, Scent of Darkness seduces the reader's every sense.

I'm really at a loss as to how to explain my feelings about Scent of Darkness now that I've finished. There are so many things that I completely loved about this book, and so many others that just won't sit right in my mind. If there was one thing I could say definitely at this moment in time, it's this: Scent of Darkness is more than what it seems to be. Let me try to break it down for you.

First off I have to praise Margot Berwin's writing. Without a doubt, this is what really kept me reading above all else. Her sweeping prose draws the reader into a world that is rich in color, texture, and of course scents. The blood of New Orleans runs deep through this book and, even though Evangeline's grandmother isn't in it for long, her character is the embodiment of her culture. Berwin weaves a dark and mysterious tale. It's hard not to be drawn in.

However, despite the elegant and prosaic writing, it was the story itself that kept me wavering between utter love and total despair while reading. Evangeline is not a very well fleshed out character, and really neither are any of the rest of the people who make stops in and out of her life. I understood her well enough. A girl who isn't wanted by her mother, and loses her only mother figure, Evangeline ends up on a path to self-discovery with no one to turn to for advice. I couldn't hate her for her naivety, but I also felt like she never grew at all either.

Then there are the two male interests. In an effort not to give anything important away, I'll simply let you know that these two men are like night and day. Gabriel seems to be the epitome of good, Michael that of evil, and we watch as Evangeline is torn between the two. I would have been fine with this, but neither of them truly spoke to me as compatible with her. It's like they were there to simply fill space. I wanted sparks, I wanted romance, I suppose I just wanted her to feel something.

So, as you can see, my feelings about Scent of Darkness ended up rather conflicted. I think that this was a great premise, with wonderful writing. The execution of it all is what threw me off. For those of you who enjoy literary fiction, this might be more of a hit. I can't deny that I don't usually read books like this, so it is entirely possible I'm biased. Point being, give this a shot and decide for yourself! If nothing else you'll be allowed to dive into the beauty that is Margot Berwin's writing, and that is a treat in itself.




FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Snark and Circumstance: Match and Win!


Just in time for a holiday dedicated to love, Swoon Romance is here to swoop in and spread the romance! I'm proud to be on the blog tour supporting Snark and Circumstance, an adorable YA adaptation of the much beloved Pride and Prejudice.

Snark and Circumstance by Stephanie Wardrop

One superior smirk from Michael Endicott convinces sixteen-year-old Georgia Barrett that the Devil wears Polo. His family may have founded the postcard-perfect New England town they live in, but Georgia’s not impressed. Even if he is smart, good looking, and can return Georgia’s barbs as deftly as he returns serves on his family’s tennis courts. After all, if Michael actually thinks she refuses to participate in lab dissections just to mess with his grade, he’s a little too sure that he’s the center of the universe. Could there be more to Michael Endicott than smirks and sarcasm? If Georgia can cut the snark long enough, she just might find out.

Now, seeing as how Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite reads of all time, I had to be on this tour! My review will be coming soon, but in the meantime take a moment to see if you can solve the matching game below! Are you a fan of the Bennetts? Well meet the Barretts! Afterwards don't forget to scroll down to the bottom and enter to win an ebook copy of Snark and Circumstance. Good luck and happy reading!


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Matching Game 

Match the Snark and Circumstance Character to their Counterpart in Pride and Prejudice based on these quotes:


Georgia Barrett
 
Mrs. Bennett  
"She was a woman of mean understanding, 
little information, and uncertain temper...
The business of her life was to get her daughters
married,  its solace was visiting and news.”
                                                       

Michael Endicott

Lydia Bennett
“a well grown girl of fifteen,
with a fine complexion and a
good-humored countenance...
high animal spirits, and a sort of natural
self consequence, the attention of
[some army] officers...
had increased into assurance.”
                                      
                             

Tori Barrett


Miss Caroline Bingley 
“began abusing [Elizabeth] as soon as
she was out of the room.  Her manners
were pronounced to be very bad indeed, 
a mixture of pride and impertinence; 
she had no conversation, no style, no taste,
no beauty.”
                                                       

Cassie Barrett

Fitzwilliam Darcy  
“He was discovered to be proud, to be
beyond company, and above being pleased.”
                                                       

Trey Billingsley

Elizabeth Bennett  
"There are few people whom I really love, 
and still fewer of whom I think well. 
The more I see of the world, 
the more I am dissatisfied with it...."
                                                       
   
Willow Harper

Mr. Bingley
"just what a young man ought to be...
Sensible, good humored, and lively.
And I never saw such happy manners!
– so much ease, with such perfect breeding.”
                                                       
   
Leigh Barrett

Mary Bennett 
“very gravely replied, 
`Far be it from me, my dear sister, 
to depreciate such pleasures... 
But I confess [the party] would have 
no charms for me.
I should infinitely prefer a book.’”
                                                       
   
Mrs. Barrett

Jane Bennett   
“a great deal too apt to like people in 
general. You never see fault in anybody. 
All the world are good and 
agreeable in your eyes.
                                      
                                                       

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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Review: The Daemon Whisperer



Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Daemon Whisperer
   *Series: The Liminals Series
Author: Candice Bundy
Publisher: Lusios Publishing
Pages: Ebook; 366
Release Date: October 1, 2012
Source: Author
----------------------------------------------------
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are fans of strong female characters, UF and PNR.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon
Meriwether Storm discovered the grisly remains of her parents when she was only fourteen—the result of a failed daemon summoning. Meri immediately swore vengeance on the daemon who'd killed her parents, but there was only one problem: she had no idea which one had committed the atrocity. Before their untimely deaths, her parents trained her intensively in the arts, which Meri used to follow in their footsteps, ever seeking the daemon's name. Now, despite her years of searching, she's no closer to the truth and her time is running out.

When a mysterious daemon named Azimuth offers Meri a deadly summoning in exchange for information about her parents’ murderer, she takes it immediately and without intimidation. What does worry her is her attraction to Azimuth: when he touches Meri, her pulse races and she breathlessly awaits the feel of his lips upon her skin. Meri knows she should keep him at arm's length, but her traitorous thoughts obsess over him night and day.

Blinded by her desperation for the truth and her desire for Azimuth, Meri places her trust in the creatures who are her sworn enemy, jeopardizing her need for vengeance. After Meri discovers there's more to the deal than the daemon cabal first promised, can she accept all they have to offer?

When retribution is the only thing that drives you, how much are you willing to sacrifice before you lose yourself to the cause?


Candice Bundy has definitely started something fresh with this series. What first struck me about The Daemon Whisperer was Meri's personality. She is a strong, but believable, female character. Meri hurts. She carries baggage and craves revenge. Underneath the calm exterior is a woman who just wants to feel vindicated. I liked Meri a lot to be completely honest. Watching her grow from a wary, reserved person to someone who could trust in others was extremely satisfying.

Pair that with a whole new take on daemons and I was hooked. Perhaps it's because I'm so new to the UF genre, but this is the first book I've read that really deals with daemons and the way that they operate. The line that Bundy walks between beauty and brutality is truly wonderful. Meri's interactions with the other side really give the reader a look into why things end up where they ultimately do. There is a whole new world build in this book, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Really, if Meri had just continued right on being a bad-ass daemon dealer I would have been perfectly okay with it. What threw the book into a tailspin for me was the romantic subplot. We have a woman whose parents were viciously murdered by a daemon. A woman who makes it her job to keep these entities away from her and under her control. Then, all of the sudden, one walks into her life that has her head over heels in lust. This just felt forced to me, and not believable at all. Don't get me wrong, I liked Azimuth. It's just that the two of them together didn't seem to make sense.

I also had no idea that there were heavy erotic scenes in the story. While these didn't really affect my reading at all, I do think it's important to note to others who might want to give this series a shot. The line between UF and PNR in The Daemon Whisperer is very thin. I'm a fan of sex in my books (if it's done well), but if you're not you might be turned off by Meri's very interesting talents. That's all you'll get from me. No spoilers! Just be warned that there is sex and it is sizzling.

So there you have it. I wavered for a long time on what to give this first book in The Liminals Series. Despite any issues, The Daemon Whisperer was a read I ultimately enjoyed. I'm looking forward to seeing where Meri's story takes her next, and how much more she grows in her new role. The world that Candice Bundy has built is tantalizing and I'm fairly certain I'm in for the long haul.




FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

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