Losing a parent is painful. It is earth shattering and completely disabling. Lucas Tremaine’s loss was due to negligence at Drax Enterprises. Even more than that, his mother was left dependent on valium to look remotely sane. He wished he could bring them to book but Drax is a big corrupt entity, what can one little guy do? He wished more than anything to exact revenge on the people who did harm to his family. Lucas wished all kinds of discomfort and unhappiness for the people who caused his father’s death. So blinded by the quest for revenge, it sometimes impairs his ability to properly collect and analyze the evidence.
Drax Enterprises will not pay for their sins in the conventional way, so Lucas needs to do some unconventional and dangerous things to get justice served. With the help of Reuben Klein, his best friend, they search the old underground subway system of the city of Cincinnati. The further they explore, the more sinister and complicated the corruption and fascism of Drax Enterprises gets. Lucas, Reuben and everyone who is near and dear to Lucas is in danger. Will Lucas find what he so desperately seeks? Will Drax Enterprises eventually pay for their sins? After facing three generations of Drax Enterprises leadership, will Lucas escape unscathed?
Follow Me Down by Gordon MacKinney is an intelligent thriller with a lot of ironic situations and lively conversations. The characters are complex but still relatable. Lucas’ need for vengeance is understandable to anyone and the reader will find himself rooting for him. This book is an interesting look into the lives of urban explorers. The reader gets to explore an underground rail systems not yet explored. The authors research and attention to detail is evident with the historical accuracy of the story. Gordon MacKinney’s description of the scenes is vivid and instantly transports the reader. One can almost smell the heavy air inside the tunnels. The love stories therein are especially heartwarming. The love between father and son is a beautiful narrative that is developed throughout the book. His admiration and love for his former boss and photojournalist, Alfred Blumenfeld, feels organic and true. I truly appreciated the authenticity of the character relationships in this novel.
Action, suspense and treasure hunts are among the simple pleasures. The adventures of Lucas’ endeavor are captivating and make for a great read. The end reveals a side of Tony Drax that you least expect, but makes for a good ending to the story.
Pages: 260 | ASIN: B0779GCH3V
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In 17th century Japan, a battle between the shoguns and the Lees raged for a lengthy period of time. The shoguns wanted the Lees to come join their elite army, but the Lees remained neutral and peaceful people. After much harassing, the husband and wife became supreme warriors. The Lees began killing whatever shoguns threatened them. After a particularly violent, gruesome battle with the shoguns, the Lees disappeared into the Oakla Mountains for about twenty years . The mastermind, an ancient wizard siding with the shoguns, commanded what was left of the shoguns to patrol the mountains of Oakla trying to find the Lees. Decades would pass.
In those twenty long years, the Lees raised a son who would become known as “the Master.” Phenomenal genetics would breed an individual who became a far better warrior and stronger fighter then both of his parents put together. In the Master’s infantile years, the mother and father went up on the mountains of Oakla, similar to Moses’ summoning of God, where they asked their God for a sacrifice. He answered, and in return of this sacrifice, he would give their extraordinary son, the Master, the power of immortality in the form of Five Scrolls of Terror. Their God asked for the skin from their baby’s head, a threatening request, but would ultimately create a child who would grow into that of the Master: the Skulled Warrior.
As the Lees returned from Oakla on that twentieth or so year, they got ambushed and killed—an attack decades in the making. When the Master found the bodies of his parents, he naturally flew into a blind rage and killed many shoguns, slaughtering anyone who stood in his way. As he battled on Oakla Mountain, his scrolls disappeared off the mountain and were never seen again. As the Master went to the end of Oakla searching for the ancient wizard for retribution, he came across an ancient hut, and inevitably the wizard and the Master did battle. The Master would ultimately kill the wizard, but he would put a curse on the Master that would remain with the Master for nearly four hundred years. As the Master’s statue, which in reality was the curse turning him to stone, was moved by cult followers and believers, it eventually found its way to New Amsterdam, which as we know, would evolve into present-day New York City.
An adventure unfolds as the Master awakens after a four-hundred-year slumber, masked as a mysterious piece of art, to deal with our current world as we know it. And so begins The Dark Legend of The Foreigner.
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Ballad of Demise is the third and final installment of the End of Knighthood series by Joshua Landeros. Set in the far future, we continue following Will Marconi, the renegade cyborg super soldier, who is aiming to launch an assault the same night as the International Summit. Chancellor Venloran, emboldened by his victory against the resistance fighters, moves into the final phase of his scheme. The International Summit will draw leaders from all over the world to New York City, and he will be able to achieve peace through the dominance of his design. It is up to Will, Alex, Bri, Gabriella, and others to stop the Chancellor and his deadly minions.
Ballad of Demise is an explosive and satisfying conclusion to the End of Knighthood trilogy. Landeros has been getting better and better with every installment. Expanding the borders of military science fiction, Ballad of Demise incorporates elements of horror through war and the suspense of a thriller. All of this adds up to a book that does its best to defeat the conventions of the genre and archetypal narrative structure.
While confining this book to virtually 48 hours and flashbacks, one would think this is a bold move from a relatively new author, but Landeros manages to pull this off with skill. The pace is snappy and engrossing for the reader. The internal struggle of Will and even Venloran shape the tone and theme of the work, which keeps asking if the ends justify the means. Even for the proposed hero, Will finds himself questioning if everything is acceptable for him to have his vengeance.
If there are any issues in this book at all, it would be that Landeros tries hard to stretch out these two days. Some of the action seems forced, and in other places, the dialogue slows the pacing but never enough for the reader to notice for too long. These are minimal problems and ones that take nothing away from the story itself.
For a trilogy, this series sets a high mark for the rest of Landeros career. In other ways, readers will be sad to see this cast of characters go but maybe they will return in future stories? Either way, this book is memorable and a fantastic sound off for Will Marconi. One can hope that such a world does not arise in the future, but these books seem to be asking, what if?
Pages: 161 | ASIN: B076BW7YLJ
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Sudden and violent loss is the introduction to this story, a war veteran and his family fall victim to a tragic and yet seemingly deliberate attempt on their lives. Our main character survives, along with the family dog, but we quickly learn the fate of his wife and son was far more grisly. When local law enforcement fail to provide the answers he seeks, our war veteran takes matters into his own hands. Answers alone will not right this; we follow the recently widowed down the rabbit hole of his own thirst for revenge, strongly driven in his pursuit.
Death by the Jaguar piqued my interest right away, a personal fan of sailing and being on the water, and I definitely enjoyed how often it returned to that setting. Either James Ruby is experienced himself or did his research, as his attention to detail regarding many basic mechanics and proper names surrounding the handling of water craft was on point. His technical skill as a writer shined through once more in regards to setting the scene. Ruby paints a picture well, giving enough focus on the characters surroundings to immerse the reader without putting too much weight in to detail. One aspect that continuously distracted me was his over use of commas. The flow of the story remained choppy throughout, thoughts consistently broken up too much by the trip of a comma.
I feel Ruby did a solid job portraying the scattered and distracted mindset of the main character, writing his portions of the story from a first person point of view. Consistently being pulled into the memories of a war veteran while he doggedly pursues justice for his family shows a glimpse of what it is like living with PTSD. I was a little bit back and forth on how I felt overall about just how quickly he gained his thirst for revenge, with little to no mourning and not even attending the funeral. However, I still felt he wrote this broken character with fair knowledge of human psychology. One thing that caught my attention was that we never seem to catch the name of our main character. I could be wrong and just missed it, but I personally find myself relating to a character better when I at least know their name.
Another issue was the repetitive interactions of Sullivan, an arrogant Chief of the local law. It seemed that with every interaction there was so much focus on this characters need to assert his station of power, his need for it to be recognized. The story itself left me wanting; the entire tale is a build up of vengeful actions, but in many respects it lacks the expected action factor, making it somewhat difficult to stay interested.
I was impressed with James Ruby’s ability to set the scene and draw the reader in, as well as his attention to detail regarding areas that the common person wouldn’t be too educated in.
Pages: 291 | ASIN: B0755JWFNR
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Wrath of the Fallen is an epic fantasy novel detailing the ferocious clash of angels and demons. What was your inspiration for this story and how did it change as you were writing?
This story has been kicking around in my head for some time. As much as I enjoy the human machinations of stories like Game of Thrones, I really like battles between good and evil as a larger construct over the human element in a story. I crafted this mythology over several years, drawing inspiration from some of my own beliefs, and cobbled them together with different failed story ideas that I came up with as far back as when I was in High School. The opening Prologue, for example, started as a scene from a story set in an entirely different world, but I eventually reworked it to be the jumping off point for this one.
Early in my college career, I was a dishwasher at a restaurant. I worked graveyard, and as you can imagine, I didn’t have a lot to do mentally from the hours of 9 PM-4AM so I started to craft this world in my head to pass the time. I came up with the history of the Mortal Plane, starting over a thousand years before Wrath of the Fallen, and continued it some two thousand years past that first novel with multiple other story ideas that I hope to get to someday. Overall, the initial planning of the world took place over several years, while the actual writing of Wrath took place over roughly two.
The characters in this book are well written and easy to visualize. What were some obstacles in your story that you felt were important for the characters development?
I ran into the issue when crafting the story of making the characters too black and white. I didn’t want to fall into the trap where Trent was always likable and never did anything good, and I wanted to make sure that the antagonist was somewhat sympathetic. The hard part about overcoming this was the good vs. evil divide that was built into the very fabric of the world. This is why I felt that it was important to give Trent his anger issues and resentment towards his father based on what happened in his past. I actually didn’t have him meet his dad in the first draft, but on the rewrite, I knew that adding that scene would give Trent a more realistic and humanistic characterization. Trauma, especially in childhood, fundamentally changes a person, and I wanted what happened to Trent to reflect that. Too many of the orphan chosen-one archetypal heroes are good people through and through and are too well adjusted for my taste. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I wanted to make sure that I gave the villain, even being an evil god, a real human motivation, so I picked what might be the strongest one out there: revenge. He couldn’t just be evil for the sake of being evil, but because he was also defined by trauma.
The backstory and mythology of this story, I can tell, was developed with a lot of thought and care. How did you set about creating the rich background for this story?
As I mentioned earlier, I started coming up with the history while washing dishes. Most of the world is still in my head, though I am finally typing it up into a series bible that I can refer back to. I also laid out an illustrated timeline on my website to allow others to see what the history of the world is leading into the Broken Pact Trilogy, which really helped me pin down specific dates for events that I was fuzzier on in the beginning.
I follow the history through storytelling method of worldbuilding. I would rather write a novel, novella or short story that details a historical event in my world and allow readers to learn the full details that way than writing out a detailed pseudohistory for them to pore over and wonder about. Those certainly have merit, and I enjoy reading them myself, but as a writer, I would much rather tell a story than write a history book.
This is book one in The Broken Pact series. Where does book two pick up and take readers?
Book two will be titled Cries of the Forsaken. It picks up immediately after the events of Wrath, and even a little bit before the final chapters to show us what happened to certain characters that we weren’t previously following. Some heroes that we thought dead return and some that we hoped survived do not. One of the themes of the next novel is good destroying good and evil destroying evil, so be prepared to see the conflict between the gods turned on its head.
The Mortal Plane has long been divided among the servants of Light and Darkness, suffering a thousand years of atrocity by both sides. When one god finally rose up and slew another, The Pact was formed, forestalling any further damage to the realms of men. But now, over the last few decades, signs of the Demons and their mindless Accursed minions have dwindled to an all-time low. It seems that after a thousand years of conflict the Gods of Light and the Gods of Darkness have finally tired of the bloody war. Or have they?
It falls to Trent, a Paladin of the Light with a soul torn with an impossible and unrequited love for his commander and scarred by a childhood filled with despair and pain, to travel beyond the walls of the city to discover what has become of humanity’s ancestral enemy. Only with his closest friend Devin by his side can Trent hope to keep from losing himself. Together the two men track a horde of Demons to a secret that will rock the Mortal Plane to its very foundations.
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The Biggest Little Crime in the World is the third book in the popular Ham McAllister Series and follows the lives of two LA Homicide detectives turned private eyes.
Once Ham walks his partner down the aisle to her famous love of her life, shots ring out and Russ Porter is shot. It’s rumoured that Porter has been shot and killed by an assassin with another unknown casualty at the scene. The duo go on the hunt to uncover the monster that did this and end up with a lot more than they bargained for. The duo uncover a crime that is quickly dubbed ‘the biggest little crime in the world’.
I enjoyed this book. It was fast paced, immediately threw you into the action and kept the suspense building from the first shot to the last chapter. This book kept me on the edge of my seat right until the very end.
I really enjoyed Drew Thorton as a character. I am a fan of strong female leads and that’s exactly what Thorton is within this book. She is multifaceted but also vulnerable and her character gets more dynamic as the duo go on a quest for revenge. When the revenge finally happens, I got chills.
However, the banter is a bit much to deal with at times between the duo. While reading this book, it felt like there was too much dialogue between characters that could’ve been explained in a sentence or two of descriptive writing.
The descriptive language in this book is something I truly enjoyed. The author has a varied vocabulary and this comes across in a few choice sentences, such as ‘lights and siren its fateful companion’ when describing an ambulance speeding away. I’ve never heard it be explained like that before and it was refreshing to read fresh prose.
The relationship between Ham and his son Dylan is very sweet as well. Although it’s not at the forefront of the book, it’s a nice reminder every now and again and the dialogue between the pair is nice to read. It was a welcome break from the fast paced nature of the book.
As I am not very informed about the lives of private detectives, this was a very interesting read. I keep forgetting that the world isn’t as black and white as I think it is so when Ham bribes a hotel manager in order to get access to some video tapes, I was shocked and yet reminded that this is what happens in the real world. Therefore, it is clear that Kroetch does a good job of immersing the reader while informing them of a world they might not know about.
Pages: 241 | ASIN: B0741PZ8SB
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In The Impostor’s Trail, we find Sean Kruger living out his golden years when a culprit Kruger feels responsible for losing six years ago pops up on the radar. What were the driving ideas behind Sean Kruger’s development throughout the story?
The concept of the novel originated with a short story written in 2013 titled, The Forgotten Brother Affair. The short story was featured on my website for about a year. After I completed the second book in the series, I was looking for ideas for the next one. Keeping in mind Kruger retires at the end of The Assassin’s Trail, there had to be a compelling reason for him to get back in the game. The return of the only serial killer to elude him during his FBI career seemed appropriately compelling.
In this installment, we find Kruger torn between righting a mistake he made six years prior and keeping his family safe. Facing pressure from his wife to stay retired and fighting his own internal need to bring the killer to justice, Kruger embarks on a journey of self-discovery. This journey finds our hero dealing with the conflict of seeking revenge and righteousness. I won’t reveal any more of the plot, but his journey gets intense.
You do a great job with descriptions as usual. It’s easy for the reader to picture either characters or settings in their mind. What is your writing process like?
Thank you for the compliment. I read a lot, making note of how other authors describe their settings and characters. During the journey to improve my writing techniques, more than one book on the craft of writing was consumed. Without exception, they emphasize a good writer must read. Read as many books in the genre you write as possible. I continue to do this, and try to learn from the best.
The majority of the settings used in my novels are places I have lived near or visited during a period of time when I traveled extensively. For instance, JR’s building in the downtown area is a real place. While in college, I thought it would be a great place to live. Alas, I could not afford the rent as a student. As a writer, the process of describing locations is how I see them in my mind’s eye based on personal experience. If I need to utilize a place I have never been, Google Earth is a great tool.
Describing characters is different, in my opinion. How a reader envisions a character is influenced by two factors. How the character acts and hints the author offers in the novel. I am not sure anyone has noticed, but I have never given a clear description of what JR Diminski looks like. This was done on purpose. He is a computer geek. But he is also self-assured and able to handle himself in dangerous situations. Let the reader fill in the blanks.
I enjoy the large cast in this story. If Hollywood came knocking who would you cast as the leads?
An interesting question. I really have not given it much thought. However, there is one character in the story who is already cast. Joseph’s character is described as bearing a remarkable resemblance to the actor Morgan Freeman. He is one of my favorite actors with a remarkable body of work depicting a wide range of different characters.
The rest of the cast I’m not sure about. Kruger would need to be a tall individual with an air of quiet self-confidence, Liam Neeson, Hugh Jackman, or even Christian Bale come to mind. Kruger’s wife, Stephanie is a woman who survived and prospered in the cut-throat world of big corporations. She would need to be an actress who projects a strong will and intelligence. Someone like Natalie Portman or Jennifer Connolly perhaps. JR Diminski is a tough call, maybe Titus Welliver or maybe Daniel Day-Lewis.
If the opportunity ever materialized, I am sure I would have little say in the matter.
How long do you see the Sean Kruger series going for? When will the next book be available?
Right now, with The Impostor’s Trail finished, I am working on a stand-alone JR Diminski manuscript. My oldest son suggested doing one and several friends agreed. However, the next Sean Kruger book already has a concept written, which is my version of an outline. The working title is The Cold Trail. Of course, this is subject to change. But with luck, and a lot of early mornings, I hope to have it out late 2018.
As far as how far will I take the series? Good question. My best answer is when the ideas for a good story stop, the series will stop. As an Indie Author, I don’t have a staff of assistants sitting around thinking up plot ideas, it just me, myself and I. Plus I am not subject to the demands a traditional publisher puts on popular authors. I don’t want to be, what I call, a book factory. Traditional publishers make their money by publishing books. There are a number of very popular authors and some Indie Authors who publish two and in some cases three or more books a year. How is it possible? If you write full-time, maybe. But I am not sure the plots are well thought out.
So for now, I will continue to take my time with each book and strive to produce quality, well-edited manuscripts, possessing realistic character driven story lines.
Over the Indian Ocean a Malaysia Airline jumbo jet drops from radar. Three hundred twenty-seven souls disappear with it; a woman in Rockford, Illinois is brutally murdered. Unrelated news events? Retired FBI agent Sean Kruger doesn’t think so. He suspects it’s the work of serial killer Randolph Bishop.
Now a college professor, Kruger has tried to live with the mistake he made while investigating Bishop six years earlier. It looks as though the only man to elude him, in his twenty-five year tenure with the FBI, has returned to seek vengeance on those who forced the man to flee the country. With his family in danger, Kruger comes out of retirement to find Bishop’s trail. A trail that leads Sean to question his own humanity.
Randolph Bishop joins the ranks of fictional serial killers such as Hannibal Lecter, Patrick Bateman and Anton Chigurh in this tale of revenge and justice. The Impostor’s Trail will keep you turning pages late into the night.
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Fireflies of the Dead takes readers on a horrifying journey of blood seeking killers and revenge loving victims. What was the inspiration for this collection of short stories?
I’ve always been a fan of exploitation horror films, which I think really shows in the stories in this collection. I’ve been fascinated with rape revenge films such as Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave for as long as I can remember. The boldness and grit of those films are what really drew me into them. I am a horror fan and as a horror fan I wrote stories that I myself would enjoy reading.
What was your favorite short story in the collection and why?
That is tough for me to answer because each story I like for different reasons. If I had to narrow it down, I would think my favorite is Watching Over Loved. I think it’s the darkest story in the collection. It contains no gore at all but packs a punch.
The stories are preceded by poems that help set the tone of the next story. What made you go with this format for your collection?
My previous books besides Burning Down Paradise were horror poetry collections dealing with extreme horror. As a reader, I’ve always loved reading short story collections. Especially when it’s a collection written by an author I’ve never heard or read before. I thought the poems would both serve as a way to set up the tone of each story as well as serve as stopping points for the reader.
I didn’t notice that any of the stories were connected, but they stood on their own well. Was there any overarching theme you tried to use in the collection?
Yes, some of the stories do share a common theme which might be hard to see through the violence and gore for some readers. In a lot of my work, I focus on themes of loss, loneliness and trying to find one’s place in the world.
Are you currently working on any full-length books? If so, when will the next book be published?
I’m working on a new draft a Novella I do not yet have a title for. It kind of serves as a sequel to my book Burning Down Paradise but yet is a stand alone story as well. I don’t want to give away much right now but I will say it takes place in a prison.
An alien from a distant world falls to earth with an insatiable craving for human flesh and something even more frightening, a desire to mate! Witness the tragic tale of a lonely man with an unhealthy affection toward the fire.
Seven short stories and poems that will take you on a blood-soaked thrill ride filled with mayhem and horrific images.
Fireflies of the Dead will chill your blood.
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A Guardian Falls by Rebecca Tran is a fantasy novel and the second book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series. In the first novel, we are introduced to our main character Mara, who is seeking revenge after watching her father’s murder. She gives up her privileged lifestyles in order to seek justice. The second starts soon after the events of the first novel, with Mara’s betrothed recovering from his injuries after she has rescued him from her father’s killer, and her self-doubt in her abilities to finish what she has started.
The novel starts well, with a good re-introduction of characters and an update in the current situation. Tran’s writing is easy to follow, and you’re given a sense of the characters as soon as you meet them. Mara is also a likeable main character, and one of the reasons for this is that she is not a perfect or even confident lead. She doubts herself and her destiny throughout the novel, but all this makes for a more realistic and endearing character. It is much easier to empathize with a character who is self-critical and questions themselves, and this makes for an enjoyable read. Mara’s relationships also makes her more likeable. Her relationship with Kess is sweet and you find yourself invested in it – the novel starts with them having been in an argument, but their quick reconciliation is a subtle way to show you the strength of their relationship.
One thing the author does well is her ability to write both long scenes of in-depth dialogue between two characters and epic battle sequences. Both of these will hold your attention, and flow easily. The dialogue is good, and anything the characters say is believable and feels like a true conversation. Similarly, any action is written well, and is not too over the top.
The only problem I found with this novel is the amount of characters there are. It can sometimes be hard to follow so many characters in one book, and occasionally things can become muddled and you start to feel you’re in information overload. However, this does not affect the enjoyability of the novel to a high degree, but it is something you need to concentrate more on as you read.
Overall, this is a well balance book, with a good degree of both action and dialogue that is paced well. You will enjoy both the action sequences and the calmer, more character driven moments. The characters are strong, and our main character is likeable and relatable. The plot is interesting pushed along by some thrilling twists. If you are looking for a good fantasy read then you can’t go wrong with this one.
Pages: 394 | ASIN: B072LJV5Z5
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In the world of horror and short stories, Eric Kapitan could easily become your new favorite author. In his collection of stories, Fireflies of the Dead, Kapitan takes the reader on a horrifying journey of blood seeking killers and revenge loving victims. From page one to the last bloody word, each short story will have you flipping on a light and checking to make sure you’re all alone. The bonus to Fireflies of the Dead is that the author has sprinkled poems throughout, preceding each story and setting the mood for what’s to come, leaving you a fan of horror for life.
Even though Fireflies of the Dead by Eric Kapitan is a book of short stories, I think the poems that Kapitan uses make it easy to transition between stories. Each poem helps to set the mood and style of what you are about to read. The poems, in my opinion, were an excellent choice to include. Not only because of how wonderfully written they were, but because they created the seamless connection from story to story. They also serve as a excellent stopping place if you need to set the book aside for a minute. You can pick right back up by reading a poem and flowing into the next story without feeling like you’ve been jolted out of the collection.
Since the book is a collection of many stories, it’s difficult to put a finger on one particular plot idea or setting. I can say that Kapitan does an excellent job of creating the proper domain for each of his characters to dwell. His descriptions of smells, sounds and internal struggles leaves the reader feeling as though they are in the scene, experiencing what the characters are going through. Throughout the book I felt the fear of the little girl, the unknowingness of the female campers and what it must be like to gag on the taste of human flesh. All things that every horror fan will love!
One issue I had was that there seems to be a lack of proofreading and editing. There are many grammatical errors but nothing that a good editor couldn’t point out and help fix. Also a warning about some profanity and explicit sexual references throughout the book.
I really enjoyed the journey of the poems and stories. I was constantly wondering where the end was going to take me and strongly felt that the author’s passion for the horror genre was relayed again and again throughout the pages. Overall, Fireflies of the Dead is a must read for anyone who craves the horror genre.
Pages: 73 | ASIN: B073PTNSMR
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