Throwback Thursday – July 20

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Renee began Throwback Thursday at Its Book Talk as a way to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books that she wants to read that were published over a year ago. Books that were published over a year ago are almost always easier to find at libraries or at a discounted sale price. As I have been sifting through my TBR list and purging those books that no longer hold my interest, I came across several from years past that I’d love to share with you!


 

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Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Published: 1890
Status: Classic
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.05


 

Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting influence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”


 

This is a story I have revisited many times the last two decades. Wilde’s writing has always had a pull for me and The Picture of Dorian Gray is his best work. Some paint Gray as a villain, others as troubled and misunderstood. I fall more in the misunderstood and immensely complicated column. Wilde explores the natures of sin, the depths of morality and immorality, and it is this work that ultimately got him imprisoned. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a must read that will continue to have an impact for many, many years to come.


 

Find this on

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository | Thriftbooks

WWW Wednesday – July 19

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words and was formerly hosted by A Daily Rhythm. It is open for anyone to participate, even without a blog you can comment on Sam’s post with your own answers. It is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?


What are you currently reading?

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Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones

So far this book is mildly entertaining. We have ghosts in London that are being murdered, a priest that does exorcisms, a black shadowing dog eating ghosts, a weird black goop that is invading London’s buildings, a boy that can talk to said ghosts, and his murderous uncle. A lot going on, right? The story is actually pretty interesting but the characters don’t stick with you. For it to be a completely effective story you should give a crap about the ghosts getting exterminated, but you don’t. I’m going to finish it just out of curiosity.


 

What did you recently finish reading?

Silent in the Grave (Lady Julia Grey #1) by Deanna Raybourn
Silent in the Sanctuary (Lady Julia Grey #2) by Deanna Raybourn
Silent on the Moor (Lady Julia Grey #3) by Deanna Raybourn

“To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband’s dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor.” 

I got on a bit of a kick last week, if you can’t tell. Once I picked up Silent in the Grave I couldn’t put it down. Then I needed to read the next book in the series, and then the next. I ended up knocking out all three of these 500+ page historical mysteries in a week. A little excessive, right? Couldn’t help myself. I’ll be doing a group review of all three of them which will be up on the 21st.


 

What do you think you’ll read next?

I am actually considering taking a short reading break and instead working on my own book. I’m feeling a bit burned out right now. I have finished a ton of books lately (at least for me) and setting that aside for a week and writing on my own work sounds like a tantalizing option. After the short break I do have a few options of books to read. I have purchased several, both new and used, recently which have been mocking me from the shelves. “Why did you buy me if you didn’t plan on reading me, Amanda? Come pick me up!”

Difficult Relationships in Literature

 

Typically on a Tuesday I would be bringing you a Top Ten Tuesday post. As the ladies who host that meme are currently on break, I wanted to do something different. This week, I want to explore a topic that can be a little personal to some people: Difficult Relationships. In our personal lives we all will at some point be engaged in a relationship that is not all together healthy. Whether it is familial tension, unhealthy work relationships, or one of a romantic nature we all have had to deal with the frustration and occasional sense of hopelessness that comes with a difficult relationship. A person can often be left feeling alone in their troubles and don’t feel comfortable talking about them to other people. I think it is important for those people to know they are not alone and others have similar troubles. Reading about even a fictional character also engaged in a difficult relationship can be a comfort to some people. These are books that I feel demonstrate these tensions whether they are resolved for better or worse.


 

Cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

“Do your kind even know what love is? Can you feel anything at all, or is it just… programmed?”

If you’ve read my review you may have noticed that I was not overly fond of this book. Despite that I think it demonstrates well how a child (step child or not) can feel spurned by a parent. Cinder would have cared for, even loved her step mother if only she had been given the opportunity to. Despite the lack of love and affection in her home life, Cinder still does her best to help her family and is able to have positive relationships with friends, doctors, even a prince. It is her choice to not take the negativity at home out into the world. That shows a real strength of character.


 

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The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

“For it is a choice, I think, to close the heart, just as it is a choice to open it. It is a choice to look at what distresses you, and a choice to shut your eyes. It is a choice to hold tight your pain, or else let it slip your grasp, set it free to make its mark upon the world.”

This book features an unhealthy sibling relationship. Our main character, Alice, has just suffered the loss of her husband and is forced to return to her family’s home outside of London which is now run by her brother, Matthew. Matthew seemingly welcomes her with open arms at first but it quickly becomes apparent that he has such hatred in his heart and turns it on his sister. She is afraid that if she disobeys him that he will physically harm her and has already mentally manipulated her. Fear is often used as a manipulation technique and Alice crumbles under the pressure. She is saved in the end only by his death. This is a sad callback to a time when women were not permitted to be masters in their own home but instead had to depend on the sufferance of their male relatives. Sadly, Beth was unable to save herself but was saved by her brother’s untimely death. I like to think that she learned from her circumstances, grew as a person, and moved on to a better life.


 

 

 

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

“I was not a pet, not a doll, not an animal.
I was a survivor, and I was strong.
I would not be weak, or helpless again
I would not, could not be broken. Tamed.”

For the many of you who have read this book, I think you will realize that I am referring to the unhealthy romantic relationship between Feyre and Tamlin. Despite Feyre having displayed the strength and fortitude to save his and everyone else’s sorry ass in the first book, Tamlin treats Feyre like an incompetent child. He refuses to treat her like a respectable and intelligent person, imprisons her in what is supposed to her home, hides his own intentions and plans from her, and actively punishes her by suppressing her free will. This is mental and emotional abuse at its most obvious. Tamlin claims love and devotion to Feyre and yet breaks her down brick by brick until she is only a mere shell of her former self. She is thankfully rescued by Rhysand, painstakingly rehabilitated, and assists in, quite literally, saving the world. With the help of those who loved her, Feyre is able to overcome the unhealthy and abusive romantic relationship she has suffered.


 

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer

“Now mine eyes see the heart that once we did search for, and I fear this heart shall be mended, nevermore.”

In the books I have listed so far the difficult relationships have been resolved to a relatively healthy conclusion. I think it is important to remember that not all of these situations lead to a happy ending. In Heartless, there are many different kinds of unhealthy relationships but the one I want to focus on is parent/child. Catherine is consistently throughout the entire book put upon by the expectations of her parents. Their wish is to elevate their own status in society by elevating their daughter’s status with marriage to the king. Cath simply wants to live a simple life, own her own bakery, and marry for love. Her parents completely ignore her wishes and demean her which leads to devastating consequences: the rise of the Queen of Hearts. Cath wanted to be a good daughter, she wanted happiness and love, and instead all that is taken from her and she goes down the path of revenge. It was her choice to go down that path but it is a decision I understood. Everything she loved had been taken from her by the wishes and manipulation of others. It would take someone of magnificent fortitude to come out of that smelling like roses.


 

I started this post as part of the Top Ten Tuesday series and then changed my mind. I think that these difficult and unhealthy relationships need their own attention. While people in the real world do not have the same circumstances as fictional characters, their difficulties are often very similar at heart. People you know or even you yourself may be trying to get through a difficult relationship and it is best to remember that you are not alone. During hard times I find comfort in reading and I hope you can, too.

Down the TBR Hole #4

I started doing this Down the TBR Hole feature about a month ago now. It has really helped me clean up my potential reading list on Goodreads and I’ve reintroduced myself to books I want to read but had forgotten about. All in all, it has been a real win-win situation. Hopefully, by posting this, it is also introducing you lovely readers to books you may want to read but hadn’t heard about before!


 

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Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

From reviews I’ve read about this book people seem to be very much on one side of the fence or the other about it. Aka a very love it or hate it kind of book without much middle ground. When I first added it to my TBR I thought it sounded vaguely interesting but since then my interest had waned. I think it is time for this book to go.

Verdict: tenor


 

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An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave.

Elias is a soldier.

Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

You know, I had been seeing this book and author around online everywhere lately. I kept thinking, “Hm. I need to get on Goodreads and look at her books!” Apparently I already had sometime last year and forgotten about it. Whoops! This one is definitely sticking around.

Verdict: KEEP


 

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A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

What can I say? I still want to read this. It’s not high on my TBR but I’ll get to it eventually. Maybe when I am old and grey.

Verdict: KEEP


 

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Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1) by Sara Raasch

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

This one pretty much lost me at “a heartbroken girl.” You all may have noticed that I have a healthy dislike of love stories. I just don’t understand their draw, I suppose. Or my heart is a shriveled thing incapable of appreciating that concept which is love. Either way, this book has to go.

Verdict: tenor


 

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Girl Waits with Gun (Kopp Sisters #1) by Amy Stewart

A novel based on the forgotten true story of one of the nation’s first female deputy sheriffs.

Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.

Guys, the comments section for this book on Goodreads is pretty brutal. Especially the Reader Q&A part. Folks are feisty! This one is definitely sticking around my TBR list.

Verdict: KEEP


 

Not a bad list clean up for a Monday morning, if I do say so myself, and it was done with a head cold and Game of Thrones hangover. I’ll call it a success. I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag

I think we have all seen this tag hanging around the bookish sphere the last month or so. Who is late to the party doing it? That would be me. Story of my life. Anyway, TA-DA! Happy slightly-more-than-halfway-through-2017 book tag! Appreciate the second half of the year, folks. We are all going to blink and it is going to be Christmas. Going…too…fast…


Best book you’ve read so far in 2017?

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. This book blew me away when I read it back in January. I had picked it up on a whim and continue to be grateful to my freezing winter self for doing so. Schwab quickly became one of my favorite authors after reading this Shades of Magic trilogy.

 

 

 

 


Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017?

Hands down A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas. I loved it so much I read it twice in a week. That takes a lot of affection and dedication for that monstrous book.


New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

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Roar (Stormheart #1) by Cora Carmack. I ordered this one pretty much right after it came out June 13th and it is still sitting on my shelf. I really need to get to it…

 

 

 

 

 


Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. This book will either be amazing or I will mock it mercilessly. There will be no in between, you can just tell.


Biggest disappointment.

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Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. People rave so much about this book/series/author. I bet they organize sacrifices to it. With all the wonderful things I heard about it I expected to at least like this book, if not be over the moon for it. I wasn’t. I hated it quite passionately. I’m considering changing my review on Goodreads from two stars to one I hated it so much.

 

 

 


Biggest surprise.

24690 by A. A. Dark. I had not read a horror/thriller/whatever in a long time before I picked up this book. I can’t even really remember what drew me to it but I recall having that I MUST READ THIS BOOK feeling when I first spotted it. 24690 is definitely not for the faint of heart but for me at the time, it really hit the spot.


Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

Pierce Brown, hands down. I hadn’t read any of his books, heard about him, nothing before 2017. How did that even happen? I’m so glad I picked up his Red Rising series. He has become one of my favorite authors. Not to mention his snarky, sharp humor on twitter gives me the jollies. Seems like a good guy that writes amazing books.


Newest fictional crush.

Striker from Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell mysteries. Granted, I have been completely obsessed with Raybourn’s books lately but Stoker would be amazing either way. Intelligent, resourceful, a bit prickly, and his roguish eyepatch all together make a fairly irresistible character.


Newest favorite character.

I’ve pondered this one for several minutes while browsing the list of books I’ve read this year and no character is really standing out for me as an overall favorite. There have been several I’ve enjoyed but none jump out enough to be considered a favorite. Hm…


Book that made you cry.

Literal tears? Nothing. The closest I got was a sense of fury when a certain character died in Golden Son by Pierce Brown. So many characters died in that book so I’ll leave you to guess which one.


Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

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While I am certainly got a fan of Caraval by Stephanie Garber I can’t deny that the cover for it is absolutely striking. The one I have shown here is the US cover but the UK cover is equally as beautiful.

 

 

 

 


What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Any that strike my fancy? I don’t make a reading list and stick to it, I just read whatever gives me that spark in the moment. I have a nice TBR list on Goodreads and then I end up just picking up something at random. You never know.


Favorite Book Community Member (Blogger, Booktuber and Bookstagrammer)

I love browsing through other reading blogs. There are a few that I will typically click on no matter what the topic is but for the most part I’m happy to browse and try to appreciate the wide variety of opinions and reading tastes in the community. Even though I do occasionally roll my eyes…


 

That’s all folks! I hope you have had a great first half of 2017 and feel free to leave a link to your mid-year tag in the comments.

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

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Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas

“Then Celaena and the King of Adarlan smiled at each other, and it was the most terrifying thing Dorian had ever seen.”

Ah, here we are again, back with Sarah J Maas. This is the fifth book of hers that I have read this year. I’ll admit, their success for me has been hit or miss. We’ve all heard the complaints about her writing. Namely, her lack of diverse characters. Since we all know that one I’m not going to go on about it for this book. Except right here. Moving on…

Crown of Midnight is the second book in Maas’s Throne of Glass series. I reviewed the first book in the series here. If you don’t want to read that one I’ll summarize it here: I was not impressed. Love triangle, assassin who does nothing assassiny, and a girl who is supposed to be a complete bad ass getting sassy over some frilly dresses. I can’t count how many times I rolled my eyes reading that thing. However, at the coaxing of Swetlana @ Reading Through the Nights, I gave the second book a chance. I am so glad that I did. It’s like Maas actually took note of everything wrong with the first book and attempted to correct it in this one. Well, almost everything.

First things first, let me just throw this out there…I really, really don’t like Chaol. Why in the name of Maas is he the captain of the guard? Push over pussy. He can’t even make logical decisions. Waste. Of. Space. Why in the world would the champion assassin choose him?! Weakness does not make an attractive character. Why would someone who is supposed to be so strong pick someone so mentally weak? No thank you.

We return to Celaena as the king’s champion and she is being given his dirty work. As an assassin, that means being sent to kill people the king sees as a threat. However, we quickly find out that she isn’t actually killing them and instead giving her targets the option to flee and never return. Not being imbeciles, they take her offer and she returns to the king claiming to have carried out the deed.

To keep myself from rambling, I think I’m going to resort to the good old pro/con list.


Pro

  •  Celaena isn’t being a big ole airhead and just killing because she is told to. High five.
  • Dorian isn’t being a twat. Two handed high five and maybe an ass smack. I’m  debating that one. Still better than Chaol.
  • Our assassin does assassin things! Yeah girl, swing that sword!
  • Gasp! Creepy monster thing with hidden purpose! Finally, something is happening.
  • Double gasp! Someone I gave a crap about died. Okay, let’s be honest, the only character I gave a crap about died but it made me feel something so that goes on the pro list.
  • More Celaena back story which actually ends up being pretty interesting.
  • Thanks for not killing the dog (I type that with my own puppy’s head across my lap)

Con

  • WTF is Chaol still doing here. Can we kill him off yet? Please. 628b747f8ccdfb757062f36a27eedecfc2295f515c0586e05fbfb0620c0571a2
  • Why are we still trying to shove her into pretty little dresses and make her girly? Celaena is an assassin, not a courtesan. Stop with the girly bullshit.
  • Okay, yes, it’s nice to show she has a softer side by giving her a love interest but at the same time, really? Can’t she be validated as a strong woman without that? I don’t need her getting all gushy about a man and eating chocolate cake for goodness sake. Way to stereotype.

Look at that, my con list is shorter than my pro list! That hasn’t happened in a while. In a nutshell, this is a pretty good book. I’m genuinely looking forward to reading the next one. The way Maas ended the book left a lot of room for the story to progress and I certainly can appreciate that. She also corrected a lot of the issues I had with the first in the series which was a very pleasant surprise. All in all, a good read.


 

Find this book on

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository | Thrift Books

Throwback Thursday – July 13

throwbackthursday

Renee began Throwback Thursday at Its Book Talk as a way to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books that she wants to read that were published over a year ago. Books that were published over a year ago are almost always easier to find at libraries or at a discounted sale price. As I have been sifting through my TBR list and purging those books that no longer hold my interest, I came across several from years past that I’d love to share with you!


 

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Title: The Anatomist’s Wife (Lady Darby Mystery #1) by Anna Lee Huber
Published: January 1st 2012
Publisher: Berkley
Average Goodreads Rating: 3.91


 

Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister’s estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes.

Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage–a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent. While Gage is clearly more competent than she first assumed, Kiera isn’t about to let her guard down as accusations and rumors swirl.

When Kiera and Gage’s search leads them to even more gruesome discoveries, a series of disturbing notes urges Lady Darby to give up the inquiry. But Kiera is determined to both protect her family and prove her innocence, even as she risks becoming the next victim…


 

I have been on a pretty intense historical mystery kick lately. You would be hard pressed to convince me that Deanna Raybourn isn’t the Empress of historical mysteries, however, this book sounds right up the same alley. Slightly unconventional leading lady working with an inquiry agent to solve a murder that happened within her family home? Fairly standard premise but just because it has been done before doesn’t mean that it can’t be good.


 

Find this book on

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK |  Book Depository | Thriftbooks