Soul Magic by Poppy Dennison

Soul MagicSoul Magic by Poppy Dennison
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novel:  63,750 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Sequel to Body Magic
Triad: Book Three

Blood runs soul-deep. Cormac hasn’t been the same since the night the High Moon Pack was attacked. With his magic weakened, he’s consumed by a bloodlust he hasn’t felt since he first became a vampire. His need to replenish his power makes him a danger to his last remaining family member, and his hunger makes him careless. And that’s just the beginning of his troubles. Feeding from pack beta Liam Benson was supposed to slake his appetite, not leave him craving more.

Simon Osborne and Gray Townsend are trying to fight a being history says shouldn’t exist—one with all three types of magic. The pack must use all of their resources to combat the mysterious triad, even turning to the shady Council of Mages for help. While Cormac struggles to reconcile his past failures with his current desires, Simon must attempt the impossible: an alliance between mind, body, and soul.

Excerpt

This is the third book of the Triad series.  After reading the last two books I was anticipating this book and the conclusion to the story arc for Gray and Simon.  I thought that we would get more of the relationship of Cormac and Liam but this was sadly lacking.  The story was geared more towards ending the story arc.

The writing was well done.  I was left wondering through most of the story what would happen next.  I love the characters as well.  They are so vivid and interesting.   I will admit I still didn’t see Liam very clearly.  He was a fairly shallow character.  I would have loved more development of the story between Liam and Cormac.  Still the part of the story that involved concluding the story arc was fascinating to me.

I enjoyed the story even though it wasn’t what I was expecting from it.  I look forward to the next book in the series and where the author will take it next since this story arc is complete.

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Knitter in His Natural Habitat by Amy Lane

Knitter in His Natural HabitatKnitter in His Natural Habitat by Amy Lane
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novel:  51,455 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

Stanley’s life took a left turn at a knitting shop and hit a dead end. The closest thing he’s had to a relationship breaks things off to date a “nice boy,” and none of the pretty young things in Boulder’s limited gay scene do it for Stanley. He needs to reevaluate whether working as a floor designer for a series of craft stores is really where he wants to be.

Then Stanley does a peculiar thing: he starts to live the life he fell into. Stitch by stitch, he knits his life into something meaningful. Just when he does, Johnny, the store’s new delivery boy, walks in.

Johnny is like no one Stanley has ever met: he doesn’t believe in quickies in the bathroom and has a soft spot for theater and opera. There has to be a catch. When Johnny’s dark past comes back to haunt them, Stanley realizes how much he loves his cushy life in the yarn store—but he’ll give it all up to keep the man who makes his ordinary life extraordinary.

Excerpt

This is the fourth book in the Knitting series by Amy Lane.  I have enjoyed this series with its humor, real life characters, and its life lessons all wrapped up in knitting.  We go outside the insular little farm to the big city of Boulder to Craw’s ex, Stanley.  Stanley is aging and is realizing since “losing” Craw that there might be more to life than a steady stream of meaningless sexual hookups.  It’s not long after that that he meets Johnny and finally starts opening his heart to a real relationship.

The author’s use of description and referencing it all to knitting is an interesting tactic.  I loved seeing all the other couples from the series and getting a little update on life.  Stanley wasn’t quite what I was expecting.  He wasn’t very solid to me.  He kept aging himself with the hair plugs reference.  I know that is part of the character because of his life before and how crippling aging is in that world but it really threw me off this character.  I didn’t really like him as much as I would have expected.  The author has always done well with connecting me to the main characters she writes about.  In this case I feel like the story was pushed.  It just didn’t flow and contained characters that just didn’t meet up to the usual standards in a book by Amy Lane.

Johnny was…unknown.  There is reference to him talking a lot with Stanley but I get very little sense of his character in the overall text of the book.  He remains elusive to me within the story.  Stanley for all his talk in the book, as the voice of the story, ends up really giving me very little to work with.  These characters do not behave like they should in regards to Johnny’s life.  WITSEC and yet here goes Stanley telling everyone.  Danger comes and Stanley runs out of town to where there is even less protection.  It is never explained how danger even follows Stanley when he runs.  Then even with these people in jail the danger to Johnny could still be very present.  None of the situation there really rang true to me.  NONE of it!

When I don’t consider any of the situations with WITSEC then the story is cute, sweet, and shallow.  This is a nice enough story but has a bit too many troubles with it.  I would consider this a one off for this author though.  She has wonderful work even within this series so there is no doubt I will continue to read her and this series.

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In Search of a Story by Andrew Grey

In Search of a StoryIn Search of a Story by Andrew Grey
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Novel:  60,852 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

He’s searching for a story but finds so much more.

Brad Torrence is next on the chopping block at the newspaper where he works. Hungry for any source he can find, he runs across an ad in the classifieds: For Sale: Nursery Items, Never Used. It’s the lead he’s been looking for. Thinking a piece about the loss of a child will give him the edge he needs to keep his job, Brad follows up. He doesn’t expect a single man to answer.

Rather than being offended, Cory Wolfe finds sharing the story of his grief and pain liberating. He’s even surprised by the spark that strikes, and one story leads to another.

Brad digs into his stories and Cory’s life, eager to know everything about the man who’s caught his attention. But when a lead points him to the hospital where Cory works, he unearths a mystery that might have been safer left buried. Brad’s search for a story could prove deadly….

Excerpt

He’s searching for a story but finds so much more.

Brad Torrence is next on the chopping block at the newspaper where he works. Hungry for any source he can find, he runs across an ad in the classifieds: For Sale: Nursery Items, Never Used. It’s the lead he’s been looking for. Thinking a piece about the loss of a child will give him the edge he needs to keep his job, Brad follows up. He doesn’t expect a single man to answer.

Rather than being offended, Cory Wolfe finds sharing the story of his grief and pain liberating. He’s even surprised by the spark that strikes, and one story leads to another.

Brad digs into his stories and Cory’s life, eager to know everything about the man who’s caught his attention. But when a lead points him to the hospital where Cory works, he unearths a mystery that might have been safer left buried. Brad’s search for a story could prove deadly….

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Captive Prince: Volume One by C.S. Pacat

Captive PrinceCaptive Prince: Volume One by C.S. Pacat
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Self
Novel:  343 Pages
Purchase at Amazon
Roses:  5
 

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos, but when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative and deadly, his new master Prince Laurent epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else . . .

This is the first in a trilogy.  I believe the writer did a wonderful job of setting up the plot lines and relationships in the story.  This is a complex bit of work.  I will also admit I really didn’t like the first half or so.  Laurent was just unlikeable and yet the story seems to be set up to push him and Damen together.  O_o  Yeah….I couldn’t see that.  I’m starting to glimpse that there is more going on with Laurent than appears.  I really don’t believe that Laurent is that cold and cruel.  I will have to read the next book to find out if I’m right about that.  Damen seems convinced by everyone’s surface appearance yet that is what got him in trouble before!

The characters are well crafted.  I could see the slow development of Laurent as a person in the story.  Damen, as the story’s point of view, was a bit easier.  He did fill out more and grow as the story continues.  I am beginning to glimpse how these two men could fit together.  This shows a true talent for storytelling in the author.

So as our story goes along we get filled in on some of the two countries and their histories.  I have to admit I would have preferred to learn more of the conflict between the two countries.  I get that they warred over disputed land but never why it was in dispute.  I understand hating someone for killing a beloved figure but it seems the hatred is more and that there is something within the battle that we aren’t hearing about.  I am hoping some of this will be reveled in the second book.

The book can be really detailed with parts of the story and not so much in others.  Most of the sex/rape scenes are skimmed over which is good.  I must admit the author did a good job in detailing this world and its people, bringing this world to life.

Overall it was a bit of a heavy book.  I will say in parts I was just glad to get through.  Yet I did enjoy the book and believe that these parts I had trouble with also set up for everything else in the story to come.  The book is the foundation for the rest of the series.  I just think some readers will be turned off by the detail and length in which not much seems to happen.  It can get a bit dry but if the reader pushes through I believe they will enjoy the last half of the book more.  The action starts to pick up and we start seeing little cracks in how the world is perceived by Damen.  How, Damen, may be wrong about a lot of what he believes.  Excellent writing and overall solid read.

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Taken by the Pack by Cheryl Dragon

Taken by the PackTaken by the Pack by Cheryl Dragon
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Resplendence Publishing, LLC
Short Story:  20,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  Dead Rose
 

Danny loves Alaska, but it doesn’t seem to love him back. The full Wolf Moon sparkles over Fairbanks, but he’s alone for those long nights. He wants to come out of the closet and date, but his frail family might implode. All he wants is the right man in his bed.

Brandon and Justin are lovers and wolf shifters native to Alaska. They’re out to protect their way of life, and sometimes that means extreme measures. When Danny’s brother proposes aerial wolf hunting, Danny enters their sights. Danny was the closet case in high school, and now, he’ll be their sex toy. The shifter pair is ready to do whatever it takes to stop the hunting and maybe add a sexy human man to their pack.

Excerpt

I’m going to start by saying this book did not work for me.  It is fairly rare I read a book and do not really like it.  I will say it isn’t horrible, but just had a very flimsy plot line that didn’t work for me at all.  The story ends up being more about the sex than the story itself and the sex isn’t very well written either.

Danny has been forced to return to his home in Alaska after his father becomes ill.  Because of the attitude in Alaska and his family Danny believes it best to stay in the closet.  Unfortunately for Danny because of the small town atmosphere he can’t get laid either.  Justin and Brandon are well known to Danny.  Unknown to Danny is the fact that they are wolf shifters.  The two overhear Danny and his brother talking about hunting wolves from a helicopter and decide to take drastic action.

I didn’t buy that these two men would even hatch up this plot to kidnap, have sex with and blackmail Danny.  Hello, talking sooooo much easier!  I get that Justin has wanted Danny for a long time but still it really doesn’t sound like the most well thought out plan.  The rest of the story progresses from there.  We only get the bare outlines of these men’s past and how they even related to each other.  The story is short and not well thought out.  Just way to simple and easy at the end.

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No Tea, No Shade by Clancy Nacht

No Tea, No ShadeNo Tea, No Shade by Clancy Nacht
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Loose Id LLC
Novella:  37,721 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

When Hank’s father catches him in a not-so-innocent childhood embrace with the neighbor Hank’s older brothers refer to as “Ladyboy Lindsey,” he forbids Hank ever to see his best friend again and sends Lindsey home in tears. Later, despite landing on opposite ends of the social and sexual spectrum in high school, neither can forget the boy who gave him his first kiss. While Hank becomes a sports star and bully, Lindsey throws himself into an elaborate sexual game played from afar for Hank’s benefit. When Hank’s football scholarship takes him away to college, their tenuous bond seems severed for good.

After Lindsey finds his calling as drag diva Miss Anne Thrope, embracing both his male identity and the natural androgyny of his intersex body, he’s finally in control of his world…until the night his first love disrupts Miss Anne’s show after a decade of silence. Hank’s dysfunctional behavior, crazy father, and their bittersweet history together threaten to destroy their fragile new romance before it’s truly begun. Should they let go of the past, or is this unique love one worth saving?

This is a story of two childhood friends that are forced by one’s father to part but never really “closed” the relationship.  Lindsey is a drag queen and quite happy with the life he leads.  He had no ambitions in school and loves to dress up.  Hank was Lindsey’s best friend in childhood but when Hank’s Dad catches them in a compromising situation he bands them from ever playing together any more.  Hank stalks Lindsey throughout high school with Lindsey’s full knowledge.  All of that ends though when Hank goes away to college and the two part ways.  Now Hank has returned and they beginning seeing each other.

This was an interesting read.  I really didn’t connect to the characters.  Hank went from totally jerk to fool in love.  I just thought his character a bit wish-washy.  Lindsey’s character was more even keeled.  The two of them fit together though and the story was cute.

Now the writing itself was not as well executed as it should have been.  I enjoyed the descriptions.  The plot was good and could have made a really good book.  I think the author just crammed too much into too little.  The characters aren’t developed enough.  The critical points aren’t well developed.  They skim over everything and then develop “easy” solutions.  There isn’t the growth of the story that could turn the book into an excellent read.  It makes the story too soft but without the mushy feel that make “soft” books comfort reads.

Overall it was an ok read but really missed the mark on execution of the plot.  The book itself is a nice read.

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Fantasy for Sale by Sage Marlowe

Fantasy for SaleFantasy for Sale by Sage Marlowe
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Totally Bound Publishing
Novel:  62, 570 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

What’s the price of reality when a fantasy is for sale?

Cam is young, sinfully sexy and willing to play without limits, a combination which makes him a fantasy turned to flesh for men and women alike—and he’s for sale.

Nate is curious when it comes to carnal delights but hasn’t found the right man to explore his desires with.

When a friend buys Nate a few hours of pleasure with Cam, it’s not much of a surprise that Nate ends up intrigued. He keeps coming back for more and the attraction between them
appears to be mutual but while Nate finds himself falling for the sexy hooker, Cam makes no secret of the fact that for him, sex is just a job.

Determined to win him over, Nathan tries to show him that sex is about more than physical satisfaction but Cam’s walls seem impenetrable until a dramatic event forces him to
reveal some of his secrets and Nate begins to understand that Cam pays more than just the price for the reality behind the fantasy.

Excerpt

This is a fairly typical troupe of a customer falling for a rent boy.  I will say there are some twists to the story and the ending wasn’t what I expected at all.  Nate’s best friend buys an escort for a party she must attend and though she told him she wouldn’t sleep with the escort she does.  The next morning when Nate meets “Cam” Nate’s friend decides Nate needs to get laid and proceeds to buy more time with Cam for Nate.

I will admit I was a bit disappointed to see Nate fall so fast to having sex with Cam.  The beginning seems to imply that Nate is a little more ethical than that.  So I could get Nate sleeping with Cam and even falling for him, which seems to happen with little cause, it’s the back and forth of Nate’s character I didn’t like.  One minute he is straight laced and the next sleeping with Cam or back to his boyfriend Keith.  I really didn’t like that.  This is a romance and I was seeing a lot of sex and not a lot of committed love.

I think the writing was good.  The plot develops in a logical way and the descriptions aren’t overblown and too much for the overall feel of the book.  The characters are well developed.  Cam/Noel is a wonderful character that draws you in and makes you hurt for him.  Keith, Cyn, and Nate are interesting characters.  We see little of Keith but what I did see made me wonder why Nate was with him.  Cyn is also not seen a lot but seems a bit jaded and callus.  Nate flip-flopped in his character a lot.  He wasn’t very consistent.  One minute he is straight laced acting like he would never do…and then he does it and never seems very bothered by it.  He wants a monogamous relationship but settles rather easily for the open on the open one with Keith.  He won’t sleep around on his boyfriend but does with Cam.  It’s on and on like that.  I could buy a character like that except he is never bothered by his own changes.  I think the characters are well written except for that.

I could not like the characters of Keith, Cyn, and Nate.  I just was off put by the way they were all slinging around whore, hooker, trash, and rent boy.  They seemed very unfeeling of what the others would feel by saying these things and others and yet are all suppose to really care about each other.

One other thing is that the author created a relationship that just happens.  There doesn’t appear to be any growing feeling or reasons for them until suddenly Nate loves Cam/Noel.  Then everything that happens at the end of the story just jumbles all together and it’s suddenly over with little closure for the relationship.  I just didn’t care for that.

Overall, the story just wasn’t for me.  I couldn’t care for most of the characters or understand how Nate falls for Cam.  Most stories that involve prostitutes don’t have the sleeping around by the other character that this one does.  You expect it for a while with the prostitute character but not the other especially after they proclaim they are falling for them.  The ending was a big disappointment as well.  The thing that was good was the plot.  Though it wasn’t an original idea the author did a wonderful job turning it into something unique.

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Pavarus by Jennifer Wright

PavarusPavarus by Jennifer Wright
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Totally Bound Publishing
Novel:  66,092 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

Thrown into another world where dangerous creatures live and rule, will Wesley stay and find love with a vampire, or will the terrors of an unknown realm have him running home?

On a camping trip in Louisiana, Wesley finds himself sucked down a hidden portal and thrown into another realm where he meets Remus, a warrior vampire. With the help of Remus, Wesley embarks on an adventure to find his way home, back to a world not filled with vampires and dragons and magic folk. Along his journey, the handsome vampire finds his way into Wesley’s heart. But will his love for Remus overcome his fears of the creatures that reign in this world?

Remus has never wanted a man before, but finds himself drawn to Wesley despite his denying efforts. He’s happy with his life as the commander of the vampires, and has had no interest in finding a mate. But after Wesley is kidnapped, Remus discovers his feelings for the man are stronger than he thought. Is he strong enough, though, to honour Wesley’s wish to return home, and let go of the man he loves?

Excerpt

This was a fun read.  There is angst in the story but it really adds to the overall drama of the story.  The characters were entertaining and the storyline interesting.

Wes is a “city boy” and has no use for being in nature.  He is a bit whiney.  Remus was a good character but about halfway through his whole attitude changes.  This is a big issue.  Remus’s character change was a little too abrupt and overwhelming.  I thought between the two men there were times it was a little too much with the drama.  They don’t seem to talk but they are in love?  This makes no sense.

The author creates a very interesting world with unique characters.  The plot is interesting but the author made the whole premise of the story be undermined at the end.  It leaves me as a reader wondering what the heck was up with the whole of the story.  It wasn’t the best of plot techniques.  I will admit the rest of the story is interesting and makes me want to read more.

Overall the story was entertaining but not a well written story.  I think I will still read the next one because the other characters’ stories are interesting to me.  I would like to see where the author will take them with the hope that the writing improves in future books.

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The Case of the Cupid Curse by Amber Kell and R.J. Scott

The Case of the Cupid CurseThe Case of the Cupid Curse by Amber Kell and R.J. Scott
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  Totally Bound Publishing
Short Story:  31, 703 Words
Purchase at Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

The very thought of paranormals is enough to drive Private Investigator Sam Enderson mad, but add in his attraction to a vampire, and his world is turned upside down.

Sam Enderson is a human detective who finds himself working for paranormal creatures, despite his resolve to stick with humans only.

Bob is a vampire and turns up on Sam’s doorstep to rent a room. Sparks fly, and Sam is attracted to the vampire in spite of himself.

Soon after Sam is cursed by a witch, two cases land on his desk. Dealing with werewolves, annoying ghosts and a grumpy gargoyle is bad enough. But somehow, in amongst all of this chaos, he has to find a lost fae and a missing shifter child.

Excerpt

This was a cute, short story.  I think my biggest issue with it was the amount of stuff that just gets rammed into the book.  There wasn’t enough time to deal with it all.  Still I think the authors did a good job of bringing the first book to a satisfactory conclusion.

Sam starts up his own detective agency when his uncle dies and leaves him a building.  Sam use to sell books and thinks it will be no problem starting up a detective agency and being successful.  (Naïve much!)  He is determined not to work with paranormals but Sam just seems to attract them.  He gets a witch mad at him right away, his first tenant is a vampire fixated on him, and, poor Sam seems to have a real gargoyle and ghost in the building with him.  He then proceeds to have his first two clients be paranormal.  Sam is having a rough time.

I love the humor that is in the story.  The characters are lively and fun.  Sam is just a little TSTL.  Bob is soooo lovestruck, poor schmuck!  The two are a good balance.  Sam isn’t so lovestruck and Bob is going to keep naïve little Sam from getting killed or kidnapped.

The writing was good.  Not excellent but it made for good entertainment.  The scenes are well described and the sequence of events makes logical (I know logic in paranormal?) sense.  The characters really made the book though and if you have read any of these two authors’ works you know that is true of most of their writing.  They are fun and engaging.

I do wish the story had been a bit longer and a little less shallow.  I could have used a bit more background.  Also Sam, being a detective, never bothers to check on any of these people he comes into contact with.  I would think renting out an apartment in a building you live in, checking on the tenant would be a top priority.

Overall it was a fun read.  Not real emotional and with a bit of an HEA:)

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Cinnamon by Derekica Snake

CinnamonCinnamon by Derekica Snake
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  SL Publishing Group
Novel:  488 pages
Purchase at Amazon
Roses:  Bouquet Roses
 

Xavier Von Drachenfeld is being hailed as the first Lord Emperor in four hundred years, and the Blood Nation is starting to break into factions. The redheaded yearling has more on his plate than he can handle: a stalker, perplexing medical issues, and work, all while still trying to learn what it takes to be a Blue Blood vampire.

However, a powerful Ancient, Hades, has brought his attention on the young assassin. When Hades speaks, the nation listens, whether it be affairs of state, matters of finance, or orders of assassination. What Hades wants, Hades gets, and Hades wants the redhead. Can a minor Ancient such as Claudius defy that authority? Can the broken lover stand up to protect his heart of hearts? Does the Brotherhood of Von Drachenfeld need outside protection?

Then the Lycan Nation begins to move…

Well, this is a Derekica Snake book.  If you have read anything by her you know it is graphic and violent.  Her books aren’t for anyone who has issues with rape and violence.  Plenty of bad/good guys and it isn’t a black and white world.  The hero isn’t always safe from harm and the love interest doesn’t always protect his love, sometimes he is the cause of the pain.

I’m going to try and stay away from the plot because I am afraid if I start I will spill the whole thing!  If you have read the last two of the books then you know in book two there become issues of keeping all the personalities straight.   I did think the author did a good job in this book straightening that all out and now you can see the different person each man becomes.  (I will add here that I really believe that Xavier/Sex/Azreal is more of a realistic split than Marcus/Armor.  They say multiple personalities are rarely ever just two.)  Each of the personalities becomes his own separate person.  Though we didn’t really see much in the split of Marcus/Armor we also see it more clearly now.  The whole of the plot has still not been revealed in this book.  What is revealed though is quite skillfully crafted.  I am continually surprised by the plot’s twists and turns.  The author is an excellent writer and well schooled in her craft.

The details given in scenes make each stand out and live.  You feel the heat, pain, and sorrow, you see and smell the pain, blood, fear, and frustration each scene you read.  People may not care for what the contents of this author’s stories are but they must admit she is wonderful at writing and creating a mood with it.  The characters come alive.  You hate them, you “awww” with them, and you laugh with them.  They are vivid even if you hate them, which I think when you read you will agree Hades is a HATED character.

I believe the author left lots up in the air and many things hinted at.  You wonder if there will be more personalities emerging, will Hades be killed or redeem himself, and WHAT is the deal with the Lycans!  I hate the wait personally but Snake makes it all worthwhile.

So, wrapping up…wonderful writing (maybe with some horrific to us elements), excellent character, plot twists you can’t see coming, and we are left hanging…so good, bad, in-between?  I have learned most of the time that Snake’s writing is love it or hate it…I loved it!  This is one author that knows dark writing at its best!

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