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Grant Elliot Smith Author Interview

Grant Elliot Smith Author Interview

Rathen: Into Bramblewood Forest follows Rathen and his crew as they fight against an ancient and terrible deity. What was your inspiration for the setup to this novel?

Bramblewood Forest is the second book in the Rathen Series and continues from the first, but also reads well as a stand-alone story. The inspiration for the series came from when Steve and I played role playing games in the early 80’s. Steve, as my step-father would bring home a variety of board and card games where you had to create background stories. I am not sure many people these days can imagine a life without the internet or well-made computer games, but we had to be creative and use our own imaginations for entertainment.

We also played a lot of Dungeon & Dragons back then where we created entire worlds with a complete cast of characters. I was just a teenager but I learned what went into creating a story. My particular passion homed in on how the characters were influenced by their environments and worlds and how an ordinary inhabitant could strive to be a superhero even without supernatural powers.

The legend of Ghrakus Castle was roughly based on a story Steve created a long time ago. I took the idea, drew more into it, and added that as a background for the characters to interact. Steve and I have endeared a long lasting collaboration on stories and role playing game ideas and hope to keep it going for a while longer.

This is a thrilling book that combines elements of science fiction and fantasy. What was the collaboration like between the two of you while writing this book?

This was the fun part. Steve and I would sit and talk for hours brainstorming new ideas and concepts that we could integrate into the story. We created the magic system in Rathen’s world and explains in detail the strengths and weaknesses. We described things from completely other worlds and even went as far as explaining how the deities came into being. My favorite creation was the ancient being known as “Arg’grimorem” Rathen and his group had to face. Believe me, it isn’t easy coming up with new ideas in the fantasy genre, but I think this creature was unique.

There were so many intriguing characters in this novel. Who was your favorite character to write for?

That is a difficult question. I really got into the heads of all the characters giving me such a strong connection to them. Rathen is always fun to write, but we had such a variety in this book. Magom, who is the character that really stands out in the group, was a challenge since he is an undead being. I had to really think what it would be like to be dead but yet still walking around and interacting with others. But I have to say my favorite character to write for in this book was Caswen, the young cleric from the temple. She had such a fun `coming of age` story and her character arc really made her feel complete. I wanted to continue writing her even after her story had ended.

This is book two in The Rathen Series. Where will book three take readers and when will it be available?

Book three, “The Battle for Korganis”, is still being written. Rathen will enter Bandark’s strange new world and help fight against the forces of the evil deity. It is shaping up to be quite an epic battle. It may be overly optimistic, but I am hoping for a release near the end of 2019.

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Rathen: Into Bramblewood Forest (The Rathen Series Book 2) by [Smith, Grant Elliot, Stohler, Steven H.]

A man driven by revenge. Another world in peril. A long-forgotten deity determined to destroy all in its path to ultimate power.

Rathen, ex-captain of the late king’s army, pulls together a team to defeat the evil that threatens them all. The Book of Ziz, with its instructions for protective spells against an evil deity has fallen into the nefarious hands of High Priest Litagus, meaning soon untold evil will reign unchecked if Rathen fails.

Consumed by his personal vengeance for the betrayer in the earlier death of his friends, Rathen travels to the ruins of Ghrakus Castle to enlist the aid of the very being who tried to kill Rathen once before. Only the black powers of this ancient evil can ensure their mission to steal the book back, but can those powers be trusted?

To safeguard his group, Rathen also recruits Caswen, an inexperienced young healer determined to make her mark on the world. Together with Bulo, an ex-gladiator and fellow warrior, Thack, a one-armed half-orc, and Bandark, a mysterious mage from another world, the group heads through the menacing Bramblewood Forest to confront Litagus and his followers.

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Spirituality 103 The Forgiveness Code: Finding The Light In Our Shadow

Spirituality 103 The Forgiveness Code: Finding The Light In Our Shadows by [Figueroa-Otero, Ivan]

Ivan Figueroa-Otero’s Spirituality 103: The Forgiveness Code is the third installment in a succession of self-help books that focus on spirituality, mindfulness, and self-understanding. This installment more specifically deals with the power of forgiveness. The reader is encouraged to connect with his or her inner ‘Warrior of Light’, meaning that in order to confront the negativity around us we must look into ourselves and examine the negativity that we harbor internally. Figueroa-Otero employs the use of Buddhism and Chinese-Tao concepts to help the reader get on a path towards connecting with him or herself and to understand that forgiveness is necessary for progress and growth.

One thing that I found helpful about the novel was the glossary that was included in the beginning. It gave the author’s expanded definition for various specific terms that was used throughout the book, such as ‘Warrior of Light’, ‘Warrior of Shadows’, and so on. Figueroa-Otero also provides homework questions at the end of chapters to help the reader review and fully understand the concepts discussed in each chapter. I found this helpful as it allowed me to exercise my understanding what I just read.

Another helpful aspect to the novel is that the reader does not necessarily need to read the first two installments in order to comprehend and fully practice the message and lesson that the author communicates. Figueroa-Otero does an excellent job in the introduction at summarizing what the readers have learned from the first two books and how that might be applied to this book.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I’m all about a good self-help book, and it’s refreshing to see one written on the power of forgiveness. However, the prose was so dense with poetic and figurative language that I would have to reread some sections to understand what was said. Along with amble use of metaphors I felt that I sometimes had to apply my own meaning rather than being told what things meant.

This would be a great book to read for anyone who finds themselves bitter or harboring hateful feelings towards others. I love the lesson presented within the book and you can really feel the authors passion for the subject matter. And in the end, with a self help, what you’re really looking for is an author that cares. And I think I found that in this book.

Pages: 154 | ASIN: B0764DYJHS

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Blind Patriotism

Joshua Landeros Author Interview

Joshua Landeros Author Interview

Voice of the Crimson Angel Part II: Poison finds Julissa ready to take on Chancellor Venloran while the United Nation Republic is gearing up to take over Mexico. Was this book an easy continuation of part I or did you have to plan and develop the story before writing?

VOCA Part II took quite a bit of planning, up there with End of Knighthood Part III: Ballad of Demise. I knew telling the entire story of The Expansion from start to finish wasn’t really possible (outside of a very, very, long novel), so I isolated the events that seemed most important and then tied the main characters to them. VOCA Part II, I think more than any other of my previous work, challenged my use of setting. Writing tests an author in odd ways, and one of those ways for me was geography. The setting in question, of course, Mexico. How big is this city? Is it dry or wet this time of year? Is it a metropolis or a small town? Luckily, my story takes place in the future, so I can tweak things, but I prefer going off reality. The first round of writing left VOCA Part II shorter than I wanted, but the final product I’m most pleased with.

It seems that you pulled from our current political turmoil with Mexico over immigration. Was this intentional or did it happen organically?

Weird thing is at first, I was paying very little attention to the current situation. When I conceived of The Expansion, I was looking at it as a continuation of Manifest Destiny, where Americans expanded westward. The more I examined the history of expanded empires, The Expansion became more and more interesting to write. It went from being a small part of the original book to an integral backdrop for the Iranian characters. Now it’s the main focus in the VOCA trilogy. In future stories, I hope to explore neocolonialism more. Since 2016, immigration has become one of the most decisive topics in the American politics. It influenced me as I watched debates and heard different arguments, but it’s a bit different in VOCA Part II. In the book, the focus is more about imperialism reborn than the push for isolation that we’re experiencing now. What the book does do, I hope, is paint a picture of the circumstances that I feel are similar to current events. For example, I think no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, people accept that we live in an era where patriotism is a very touchy issue. Even critique from a person within the system can lead to harsh cries of them being “unamerican.” Blind patriotism, more than anything, fuels a beast like Venloran and his UNR. What I also wanted to focus on was displacement. Civilians can be turned into dissidents when pushed. People have forgotten that the Mujahideen that battled the Soviet Union was propped up by the United States. This same organization became Al-Qaeda, and in the age of the “War on Terror”, we’ve seen an upsurge in the formation of radical groups. I would argue that intervention, this need to intervene and ‘democratize’ other areas around the globe, fuels fundamentalists. Former New York Times writer Chris Hedges (who was fired around the start of the Iraq War) called the usage of violence a disease. Therefore “Poison” was the proper title for this installment. What I wanted to do with the book was take the “War on Terror” and move it closer to home. Instead of across the Atlantic in countries most Americans have never been to, I wanted to imagine it happening right next door.

Have you tried exploring other mediums for your series; games, comic books, etc? I ask because you have developed such a rich backstory already.

I’m not much of a gamer, so I’ve never really considered that route. Comics, however, have always intrigued me. I’ve always been obsessed with visuals (one of my worst habits was the tendency to doodle during class). Comics, namely graphic novels, have always been a favorite medium of mine. You can say a whole lot with just a single frame, and not to mention a good use of color goes a long a way in establishing the mood. The look of the cyborg uniforms, namely the overcoat, was inspired by the Blade design from Marvel comics, while the armor itself is actually manga-based. As a child, I’ve read my share of manga, including Dragon Ball. Unfortunately, I can’t draw all that well. If I could meet a comic book artist who wanted to tell a story from Reverence, I’d be honored to be a part of such a project.

If Hollywood came knocking, what actors would you cast in your main roles?

I’ve actually given some thought to this! After all, as I write I often listen to my favorite movie soundtracks. This helps me set the mood and envision a scene: scary might be Ennio Morricone, action-oriented Hans Zimmer, and somber along the lines of Michael Giacchino. Naturally, sometimes I envision certain faces of certain characters. The big one is Will, and for him I could see Will Smith or Denzel Washington taking the role. They are both older and can play action heroes, but all while still giving them emotional resonance. Another instacast for me is Liam Neeson as Chancellor Venloran. This is largely due to his portrayal of Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins (2005). He’s calm yet menacing, all without being over-the-top. One of my favorites to envision would be Jessica Chastain as Gabriella Neeson. After seeing her in Interstellar(2014), I was thoroughly convinced. She’s both gorgeous, tough as nails, and can portray a character who is anything but a damsel in distress (no thanks Cameron Diaz). Others are mind boggling. In the case of Marisol Leone, for example, it’s really hard to pin down. One of these days, I’ll sit down and sort them all out.

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Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison (Reverence Book 6) by [Landeros, Joshua]Julissa Marconi is finally ready to be a soldier again, and now it’s time to take on the tyrannical Chancellor Venloran. With Captain Halsey and her daughter Zaneta by her side, the resistance is the last line of defense preventing the United Nation Republic from seizing the country of Mexico. The combat will prove bloody as Venloran sends his cyborg warriors to squash all opposition. As bullets fly and bodies pile up, Julissa will be forced to consider what she’s capable of. To defeat the enemy, she may just have to become the enemy. 

Welcome back to the world of the Reverence series with Voice of a Crimson Angel Part II: Poison. Witness the spark that lit the fire. 

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Malalai Joan of Arc of Afghanistan and the Victors of Maiwand Book Trailer

A young American physician Dr. Scott Fitzgerald from Pennsylvania sets out on a journey to fulfill his fathers dream by returning to Afghanistan where his father Bryan had spent nearly twenty years as the first American in that remote kingdom. Bryan had befriended Prince Akbar, the hero of First Anglo-Afghan, and won the hearts and minds of Afghans receiving a golden sword and the title of the American Prince. Like his father, Scott wanted to take the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution to the farthest lands of the world. Following many adventures he joins Prince Ayoub, the hero of the Second Afghan War.

Scott travels from Philadelphia across Europe, Russia, Afghanistan, India to the Far East. He returns with lessons learned and truths he discovered and writes them in this book to reach the present and future generations. He regards the American Republic as an indestructible fortress of freedom and democracy that all extremes of left and right factions are inevitably drawn back into the fortress of ‘Immortal Ideas”, built by their forefathers with their genius, their fortunes and their lives. Scott believes, as Americans we have never claimed to convert or to rule the world. We just want for others to have the same inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of their own happinesss.

Scott quotes a great American, The Constitution of the United States is the impassioned and inspired vehicle by which we travel through history. It grew out of the deepest inspiration of our existence that we are here to serve Him by living free. That living free, releases in us the noble impulses and our best abilities so that we use these precious gifts for good and generous purposes and that we will secure them not just only for ourselves and our children but for all mankind.

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Panther Across the Stars

Panther Across the Stars

Lon Brett Coon’s Panther across the Stars is a stirring historical novel depicting the detailed life of a Shawnee Indian warrior called Tecumseh otherwise known as panther across the stars that was a brave and intelligent warrior who is able to inspire loyalty, devotion and admiration from all that knew him. He battles the palefaces who are his sworn enemies even though he is curious about their strange way, and even befriends the few he could respect. This is a visceral tale of power, passion and one man’s destiny to unite his people in the struggles to save their land and way of life from the white settlers.

Tecumseh, being a proud man, is relentless in his efforts and travels for many months trying to gather support and warriors from other chiefs. Unfortunately the other chiefs do not join the alliance because many of them end up being short sighted. Tecumseh is driven by myth and hope as he battles again and again even though he is not sure whether peace is possible.

This book is a fantastic read. Lon Brett Coon writes in a way that puts the reader in the scene. I felt like I was walking alongside the triumphs and trials of the members. The attention given to the customs of the Shawnee and other tribal nations was enjoyable and detailed. The writing style was both engaging and entertaining. The author excellently paints a portrait of these people’s lives. It is interesting to read about the Shawnee and how they coped with the intrusion of white settlers. Their bravery and courage was outstanding though it leaves one wishing they had had been treated better.

It was heartbreaking to learn about the lies and deceit from the Americans and seeing the Shawnee native land disappearing slowly. We get to watch as they are constantly being moved west as treaties are broken constantly by the white people who are driven by their hunger for more land and ownership of it. This is a novel that deftly portrays the injustices brought upon Native Americans.

I would definitely recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about the history, culture, and battles of American Indians. The author has clearly done his research and kept it as accurate as possible. Tecumseh’s passion for his people is clear and earns him extraordinary friends. Although this novel sheds light on some dark historical times, there’s an undercurrent of optimism that inspires hope in the reader that maybe the Native Americans will win, and save their land.

Pages: 315 | ASIN: B076Y8BTF2

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More Than A Vampire

R. Tran Author Interview

R. Tran Author Interview

For Their Sins is based on the life of Alexandria a woman born in 1707, as the descendant of angels. Bearing the responsibility of her house, she will fight for both family and honor. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

Most of my book ideas come from a random thought. Usually I will hear or see something and think it would make an interesting book. This idea was actually came to me when I was watching The Chronicles or Riddick. There was a random line where the Necromancers referred to humans as breeders. I thought it would make an intriguing story line for two types of vampires to be at war. Those that had children and those that did not. I think the idea changed the longer I followed Alexandria through her life. I wanted to make her more than a vampire. Alexandria needed a purpose and a reason to hate the Mordere. The biggest changes came at the final editing. The original story line seemed too dark even to me who understood the whole concept. It was changed and the angel theme was added much earlier than before. It balanced out the story and made Alex someone you wanted to root for.

Alexandria is a determined young woman. How did you capture the thoughts and emotions of a warrior princess type character?

It’s interesting to hear Alexandria described that way, it wasn’t how I intended her. I always imagined her as a hunter and the reluctant heroine. For me its never hard to write strong women. I usually think how my mother would react to certain situations; she’s certainly the strongest woman I know. In Alexandria’s case some of my own experience was thrown into the mix. For a long time I never wanted children either.

There were lots of great twists in the story that kept me flipping pages. When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?

When I start writing I usually have a general idea of major plot points in the book. How I get there is another thing entirely. This book was no exception. I worked on this manuscript on and off for six years trying to fit the pieces together. Alexandria’s first love affair was a total surprise to me and initially one of the characters wasn’t slated to be killed off. Some how it fit and I kept it. Originally the book had a much longer ending that always felt wrong to me. That was rewritten before publishing.

What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

Currently I am working on Book 3 in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series. I am hoping to have it ready for publication around February 2018.

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For Their Sins by [Tran, R.]Alexandria Diego never wanted to be special. She was content to lay in bed with her lover forever. One decision will change everything. Suddenly, Alexandria is launched into a life of infamy, which carries a heavy burden that only she can bear. When a vicious war between her people, the Venandi, and their rivals, the Mordere, breaks out it forces Alexandria to change her tactics and be more cautious. But, when her love is captured by the enemy, Alexandria risks everything to get him back.

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For Their Sins

For Their Sins

For Their Sins, written by Rebecca Tran, is based on the life of Alexandria Diego, a woman born in 1707, as the descendant of angels. She is a born warrior but with her skin surviving the burn of the sun, she will be destined to breed. Bearing the responsibility as the gem of House Diego, Alexandria’s life will be filled with life altering decisions and consequences. Alexandria will fight for both her family and honor, training and leading warriors into battle as she continues to rise her house to ultimate power. But twisted romances and secret affairs lead her on a destructive path where she will find herself in a battle of revenge when she fights to rescue her love from the enemy.

For Their Sins begins with Alexandria Diego as a child where she learns the ways of her house through history, science and religion. Born an angel, her life is determined by the path that she chooses to follow, whether it is to be someone who can bear children or someone who is a warrior. Some can face the sunlight, others can’t and these traits can determine the rules of how you live. But love, lust and the urge to be something more will create Alexandria into the wonderful warrior that she becomes.

Expect a mix of supernatural and adventure with beautiful women giving birth at 400 years old and in place of milk, blood will feed these baby angels. There are religious tones throughout the plot line as it dips into discussions about the creation of mankind, God and the existence of angels. We are taught about the creation of vampires and thrown into a world of coachmen and swords where bloodlines and heritage can determine which house you belong to.

At times the story line will seduce the reader, as Alexandria learns the lines between lust and love through exploring her friendships. In an almost primitive style, there are battles between those who wish to have the strongest male or female to breed with, to ensure their line will continue throughout history. Love mixes with politics and the characters become mixed up within following their heart or following the urge to rise to power instead.

Rebecca Tran’s way with words will tug at readers heart strings through strong themes and emotional experiences that the characters endure. The plot line feels like a roller-coaster at times with shocking events and twists that will left me feeling unnerved at the unexpected outcomes. Occasionally the story felt slow, only for a shocking event or twist of the plot to happen which drew me back in for more.

The story moves through history, first beginning with sword fights and eventually entering a period of cell phones and guns. Mixed through the historical events are relationships and lustful connections that will influence the politics and wars that occur when they face enemies such as the Morderes.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a supernatural story crossed with action and a twist of romance.

Pages: 428 | ASIN: B0716SVRDS

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The Rashade

The Rashade' (Chronicles of the Coranydas Book 1)

The Rashade, written by Rebecca Tran, tells the tale of Mara, a purposeful and strong willed woman whose life mission revolves around avenging the death of her father. Mara is a trained soldier, a skilled fighter and is determined to find the man who murdered her father (whilst she was forced to watch), leaving both physical and emotional scars that haunt her nightmares. As she sets out on her epic adventure she will meet new friends, new enemies and finally face off with the evil mage Laran who has his eyes set on taking over her homelands.

The Rashade is the first book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series and delivers an adventure filled with magical characters, valiant warriors and a determined young woman who has her eyes set on avenging her father. The story begins with Mara applying for leave through the High Priestess, who also happens to be Mara’s mother. Mara is a trained soldier in the League and hopes to use her time away to finally face the evil Laran.

The Rashade has similar tones to books such as Deltora Quest and Game of Thrones as the main characters set on an adventure where there are tombs, priestesses and sword fights that will leave the reader on the edge of their seat in anticipation. Epic battles crossed with a burning desire to destroy an evil man will mean the reader will be captivated until the very end.

Not everybody is who they seem and I thoroughly enjoyed the progression of each character as we learned more about their life through the unexpected relationships that develop. The characters come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from soldiers to priestesses to mages- humans who possess magical powers and mysterious grey eyes. Romance, swordsmanship and magical weapons will intertwine into a plot line that is consistently entertaining.

Mara and Kess are friends who set off together after decisions made by the High Priestess. Kess is sometimes shy, sometimes brave and the reader will quickly begin to appreciate his ability to be there when Mara needs him most. But Mara is an independent and strong woman, and it was a breath of fresh air to read about a woman warrior, rather than the typical man going into battle.

The Rashade has elements of olden day romance with flirting consisting of showing ankles in a bar, arranged marriages and oaths that stand the test of time. The outfits, swords and horses will throw the reader into an era that was far before our time. It was easy to get lost in a world of fantasy and transported to a place where magic and priestesses exist and readers will be pleasantly surprised at how easily time gets away when you are lost in the pages of The Rashade.

I would recommend this to anybody looking for a fantasy novel with twists and turns that result in a heart-stopping conclusion. I look forward to reading the other stories in the series!

Pages: 425 | ASIN: B01N211HHR

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The True Tree Chronicles: Cleansed

Cleansed (The True Tree Chronicles) (Volume 1)3 Stars

Cleansed by G.S. Scott follows the life and adventures of a young man named Dirge as his destiny is unwittingly grafted to a battle among a triumvirate of otherworldly gods. The fantasy tale, which has a refreshingly contained scope and brisk pace considering the current genre climate, begins with Dirge as a small boy who is loved, if a bit neglected, by his prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold mother. As street urchins are wont to do, Dirge quickly comes across his call to action in the form of a magical pendant that he finds during an early flight from danger, and thus sets the stage for later conflict. In a series of events that may be a bit on the nose for some readers and exactly right for others, Dirge loses his mother, becomes an orphan, and is immediately adopted into a patriarchal and heraldic order that provides discipline, training, and spiritual sustenance. By the end of the first act of the novel, Scott has positioned Dirge to be the prototypical young warrior – full of both shining promise and untested potential. What follows is a by the numbers rise-fall-redemption story seeing the fated hero forced to choose between serving the god of death or the god of law as they both combat the singularly evil force of Chaos.

Scott’s Cleansed offers enough quirk on top of the familiar that the snappy tempo makes the book a quick and exciting read. Unlike other writers that slog the reader over every continent, mountain range, and ocean, Scott understands that no one needs to see the entire globe to feel gravity. The book primarily takes place in one city, and most of the scenes actually occur in or around the same tavern.  Admirably, Cleansed dedicates it’s pages to putting characters together and keeping the background where it should be.

While familiarity and the use of certain tropes are not automatically drawbacks (and how could they be when they are impossible to avoid entirely?), there are some legitimate issues to take up with Cleansed.  For example, scenes often begin or end at the wrong moments in time, making them either unbalanced or extraneous. There are editorial issues such as misused homonyms or dropped words. And these small items can be overlooked, but what is less escapable is a badly managed point-of-view. The book can loosely be described as 3rd person “close” or 3rd person limited omniscience with respect to the lead character, Dirge. That is the construct that the text follows. Except when it doesn’t. At times it drifts into the first person of Dirge. At other points the 3rd person omniscience balloons to include other characters’ interior thoughts simultaneously. At other points still, the limited 3rd person will focus on a side character’s interiority and exclude Dirge, and this doesn’t occur in any meaningful serialization. It doesn’t happen all the time, which would be more acceptable, because then it might represent a gimmick with which the reader could build a stable, albeit annoyed, pattern or logic. The fact is, the POV slippage happens irregularly.

For some readers, point-of-view grievances are pedantic. For others, they are deal breakers. If you are the former, G.S. Scott’s Cleansed will provide you with a fun, fast read that is action packed and well worth the time.

Pages: 306 | ASIN: B01J92LAEO

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