Saturday, October 29, 2011

Notable New Book Releases [Oct. 23 - Oct. 29]

This is a short list for the books that caught my eye this week. What did I miss? What books were you excited about this week?

Dead of Night: A Zombie Novel by Jonathan Maberry
Pub Date: October 25, 2011

A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave. But all drugs have unforeseen side-effects. Before he could be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang…but a bite.




The Chronicles of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg
Pub Date: October 25, 2011

[Read my review of The Chronicles of Harris Burdick here.]

An inspired collection of short stories by an all-star cast of best-selling storytellers based on the thought-provoking illustrations in Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

For more than twenty-five years, the illustrations in the extraordinary Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg have intrigued and entertained readers of all ages. Thousands of children have been inspired to weave their own stories to go with these enigmatic pictures. Now we’ve asked some of our very best storytellers to spin the tales. Enter The Chronicles of Harris Burdick to gather this incredible compendium of stories: mysterious, funny, creepy, poignant, these are tales you won’t soon forget.

This inspired collection of short stories features many remarkable, best-selling authors in the worlds of both adult and children's literature: Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, and Chris Van Allsburg himself.

Van Allsburg's Harris Burdick illustrations have evoked such wonderment and imagination since Harris Burdick's original publication in 1984; many have speculated or have woven their own stories to go with his images. More than ever, the illustrations send off their eerie call for text and continue to compel and pick at the reader's brain for a backstory—a threaded tale behind the image. In this book, we've collected some of the best storytellers to spin them.



The Night Eternal by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Pub Date: October 25, 2011

From the authors of the instant New York Times bestsellers The Strain and The Fall comes the final volume in one of the most electrifying thriller series in years

It’s been two years since the vampiric virus was unleashed in The Strain, and the entire world now lies on the brink of annihilation. There is only night as nuclear winter blankets the land, the sun filtering through the poisoned atmosphere for two hours each day—the perfect environment for the propagation of vampires.

There has been a mass extermination of humans, the best and the brightest, the wealthy and the influential, orchestrated by the Master—an ancient vampire possessed of unparalleled powers—who selects survivors based on compliance. Those humans who remain are entirely subjugated, interred in camps, and separated by status: those who breed more humans, and those who are bled for the sustenance of the Master’s vast army.

The future of humankind lies in the hands of a ragtag band of freedom fighters—Dr. Eph Goodweather, former head of the Centers for Disease Control’s biological threats team; Dr. Nora Martinez, a fellow doctor with a talent for dispatching the undead; Vasiliy Fet, the colorful Russian exterminator; and Mr. Quinlan, the half-breed offspring of the Master who is bent on revenge. It’s their job to rescue Eph’s son, Zack, and overturn this devastating new world order. But good and evil are malleable terms now, and the Master is most skilled at preying on the weaknesses of humans.

Now, at this critical hour, there is evidence of a traitor in their midst. . . . And only one man holds the answer to the Master’s demise, but is he one who can be trusted with the

[With the what?! Ha.]

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Release Week Giveaway: Destined by P.C. & Kristin Cast

More exciting giveaway news! Destined - the ninth book of the House of Night series - was released this week. To celebrate, those awesome folks at Zeitghost Media are offering one lucky Book Den reader a copy of Destined.

Destined (House of Night #9) by P.C. & Kristin Cast
Zoey is finally home where she belongs, safe with her Guardian Warrior, Stark, by her side, and preparing to face off against Neferet – which would be a whole lot easier if the High Counsel saw the ex-High Priestess for what she really is. Kalona has released his hold on Rephaim, and, through Nyx's gift of a human form, Rephaim and Stevie Rae are finally able to be together – if he can truly walk the path of the Goddess and stay free of his father's shadow…

But there are new forces at work at the House of Night. An influx of humans, including Lenobia’s handsome horse whisperer, threatens their precarious stability. And then there’s the mysterious Aurox, a jaw-droppingly gorgeous teen boy who is actually more – or possibly less – than human. Only Neferet knows he was created to be her greatest weapon. But Zoey can sense the part of his soul that remains human, the compassion that wars with his Dark calling. And there’s something strangely familiar about him…

Will Neferet’s true nature be revealed before she succeeds in silencing them all? And will Zoey be able to touch Aurox’s humanity in time to protect him – and everyone – from his own fate? Find out what’s destined in the next thrilling chapter of the House of Night series.



To enter, simply fill out the form below with your name and email address. I will leave the contest open through Friday, November 4. A random winner will be contacted on Saturday, November 5 to provide a valid mailing address. For more information, please see my contest policy.

*Only open to US/Canada

Update: This contest is now closed. Congratulations Mary D!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Giveaway! The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

Great news! The Informationist by Taylor Stevens has been released in paperback. To celebrate, Crown Publishing is giving three (3!) very lucky Book Den readers a copy of The Informationist.

If you missed my review you can find it here. I highly recommend The Informationist for thriller lovers. It's the first book of the Vanessa Michael Monroe series and a fantastic debut for Taylor Stevens. See below for a chance to win.

The Informationist: A Vanessa Michael Munroe Novel
“Stevens’s blazingly brilliant debut introduces a great new action heroine, Vanessa Michael Munroe, who doesn’t have to kick over a hornet’s nest to get attention, though her feral, take-no-prisoners attitude reflects the fire of Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander….Thriller fans will eagerly await the sequel to this high-octane page-turner.” —Publishers Weekly, starred, boxed review

Vanessa “Michael” Munroe deals in information—expensive information—working for corporations, heads of state, private clients, and anyone else who can pay for her unique brand of expertise. Born to missionary parents in lawless central Africa, Munroe took up with an infamous gunrunner and his mercenary crew when she was just fourteen. As his protégé, she earned the respect of the jungle's most dangerous men, cultivating her own reputation for years until something sent her running. After almost a decade building a new life and lucrative career from her home base in Dallas, she's never looked back.

To enter, simply fill out the form below with your name and email address. I will leave the contest open through Friday, November 5. A random winner will be contacted on Saturday, November 6 to provide a valid US mailing address. For more information, please see my contest policy.

*Open to US addresses ONLY.

Update: This contest is now closed. Congratulations Stacy, Sue, and Kara!

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: Ghosts by Gaslight edited by Jack Danin and Nick Gevers

Ghosts by Gaslight is an anthology of steampunk and supernatural suspense edited by Jack Danin and Nick Gevers.

Book Description
Seventeen all-new stories illuminate the steampunk world of fog and fear!

Modern masters of the supernatural weave their magic to revitalize the chilling Victorian and Edwardian ghostly tale: here are haunted houses, arcane inventions, spirits reaching across the centuries, ghosts in the machine, fateful revelations, gaslit streets scarcely keeping the dark at bay, and other twisted variations on the immortal classics that frighten us still.

I've been reading stories from Ghosts by Gaslight: Stories of Steampunk and Supernatural Suspense all month, and it is such a gorgeous book. I'm a huge fan of anthologies, especially in October, and there is a certain literary beauty to the Victorian tales in Ghosts by Gaslight.

While every story in Ghosts by Gaslight is supernatural in nature, the steampunk element is subtlety interlaced throughout the anthology. This was perfect for me since I just started getting acquainted with the steampunk genre this past year.

If you love Victorian style ghost stories, Lovecraftian tales, and an eerie side to your steampunk, you are sure to appreciate Ghosts by Gaslight. It's an anthology that will go in my permanent collection.

7/10: Recommended Read

Review copy provided by publisher

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Notable New Book Releases [Oct. 16 - Oct. 22]

These are the new releases that caught my eye this week. What did I miss? What were you excited about?

New Releases

Johnny Halloween: Tales of the Dark Season by Norman Partridge
Pub Date: October 15

Norman Partridge's Halloween novel, Dark Harvest, was chosen as one of Publishers Weekly's 100 Best Books of 2006. A Bram Stoker Award winner and World Fantasy nominee, Partridge's rapid-fire tale of a small town trapped by its own shadows welcomed a wholly original creation, the October Boy, earning the author comparisons to Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Shirley Jackson.

Now Partridge revisits Halloween with a collection featuring a half-dozen stories celebrating frights both past and present. In “The Jack o' Lantern,” a brand new Dark Harvest novelette, the October Boy races against a remorseless döppelganger bent on carving a deadly path through the town's annual ritual of death and rebirth. “Johnny Halloween” features a sheriff battling both a walking ghost and his own haunted conscience. In “Three Doors,” a scarred war hero hunts his past with the help of a magic prosthetic hand, while “Satan's Army” is a real Partridge rarity previously available only in a long sold-out lettered edition from another press.

But there's more to this holiday celebration besides fiction. “The Man Who Killed Halloween” is an extensive essay about growing up during the late sixties in the town where the Zodiac Killer began his murderous spree. In an introduction that explores monsters both fictional and real, Partridge recalls what it was like to live in a community menaced by a serial killer and examines how the Zodiac's reign of terror shaped him as a writer.

Halloween night awaits. Join a master storyteller as he explores the layers of darkness that separate all-too-human evil from the supernatural. Let Norman Partridge lead you on seven journeys through the most dangerous night of the year, where no one is safe…and everyone is suspect.



The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 22 edited by Stephen Jones
Pub Date: October 18 [Kindle Edition]

The year's best, and darkest, tales of terror, showcasing the most outstanding new short stories and novellas by both contemporary masters of the macabre and exciting newcomers.

As ever, this acclaimed anthology also offers the most comprehensive annual overview of horror around the world in all its incarnations; a comprehensive necrology of famous names; and a list of indispensable contact addresses for the dedicated horror fan and writer alike.

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror remains the world's leading annual anthology dedicated solely to presenting the best in contemporary horror fiction.


Reprints, Paperbacks, Ebooks


9 Ebooks from Robert McCammon

[More details here.]







The Informationist by Taylor Stevens
Pub Date: October 18

[Read my review of The Informationist.]

Vanessa “Michael” Munroe deals in information—expensive information—working for corporations, heads of state, private clients, and anyone else who can pay for her unique brand of expertise. Born to missionary parents in lawless central Africa, Munroe took up with an infamous gunrunner and his mercenary crew when she was just fourteen. As his protégé, she earned the respect of the jungle's most dangerous men, cultivating her own reputation for years until something sent her running. After almost a decade building a new life and lucrative career from her home base in Dallas, she's never looked back.

Until now.

A Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his daughter who vanished in Africa four years ago. It’s not her usual line of work, but she can’t resist the challenge. Pulled deep into the mystery of the missing girl, Munroe finds herself back in the lands of her childhood, betrayed, cut off from civilization, and left for dead. If she has any hope of escaping the jungle and the demons that drive her, she must come face-to-face with the past that she’s tried for so long to forget.

Gripping, ingenious, and impeccably paced, The Informationist marks the arrival or a thrilling new talent.



The Mountain King by Rick Hautala
Pub Date: October 16

In the halls... of the Mountain King...

There are many legends and ancient tales concerning Mount Agiochook, the second tallest mountain in Maine. Some of these tales speak of a demon that resides on the rocky slopes near the mountain's snow-crested summit. Legend has it that a force of supernatural evil periodically emerges from the mists that shroud the mountain and comes down to the valley, looking to claim a life.

Sometimes the life it claims is an animal — perhaps a stray dog or a farmer's cow or a horse. At other times, it claims a human life, a straying hiker or a lost camper.

Mark Newman has hiked the numerous trails to the summit of Mount Agiochook many times. He has heard the stories and Indian legend, but he doesn't believe them.

Not until one September afternoon, when an early snow storm sweeps through the mountains, and he witnesses something he knows can't possibly be real.

But it is all too real!

Convinced that there is something lurking near the summit of the mountain... something terrible... something that won't be satisfied with claiming just one human life, Mark vows to hunt it down and destroy it.

What he doesn't know is that he, too, is being hunted. Under suspicion for the murders of his best friend and his wife's lover, Mark is being pursued by the local police, an angry mob, and something else... something he can't begin to comprehend until he confronts it, face to face.

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Read-along: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: Week Two

It's week two of the Two Towers read-along hosted  by the Little Red Reviewer, Geeky Daddy, and Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. I'm thoroughly enjoying my re-read of The Lord of the Rings and like someone mentioned last week, this is the perfect time of year for LOTR. I love everyone's comments and insights, and I also love that these discussions are conjuring up great memories for those who love the books/movies but aren't participating in the read-along.

If you've read the books or seen the movies, feel free to jump in the discussions! Please be aware that there are spoilers for those who have not yet experienced LOTR.

1. The Glittering Caves of Aglarond; Fangorn Forest: Which of the two would you be most excited to visit once the war was over?

I would want to visit the caves, but I would be more excited about Fangorn Forest. Mostly due to claustrophobia, but also because of the Ents.

2. How did you like the reunion of at least part of the fellowship at Isengard? Did any part of it stand out to you?

I thought it was funny for them to find Merry and Pippin eating, drinking, smoking, and relaxing when they were so worried about the great peril they were in. I can't imagine that's how they expected to find them.

3. What are your thoughts about Galdalf's confrontation with Saruman?

Saruman creeps me out. His manipulations give me the shivers. How cool is Galdalf the White, though?! "I am not Galdalf the Grey..." I love it.

4. We learn a great deal about the Palantir in this section. How do you feel about Saruman given Gandalf's speech about the use of the Palantir? Would you, like Pippen, be tempted to look in to see what you could see?

I wouldn't have stolen it away from Gandalf, but yes, I would have been overly curious about the Palantir. I would have been tempted to look only not knowing what I would find.

5. What are your thoughts about Smeagol/Gollum in this first part of his journey leading Frodo and Sam? For those of you who've seen the film, are you hearing Andy Serkis in your head when you read Gollum's lines?

Oooh, yes. I hear Andy Serkis saying Gollum's lines the same way I heard Cate Blanchett reading me the prologue in The Fellowship of the Ring last month!

I enjoy Gollum. He makes me very anxious.

6. Sam and Frodo are not traveling in the most picturesque part of Middle-earth. Which would you find worse, the seemingly impossible to leave mountains or the Dead Marshes? [For some reason I answered which one I'd rather travel.]

Personally, I would be more comfortable on marshland, but would despise the fog. Well, the corpses and the fog.

I love the imagery of the candle lights and the draw of the corpses. Very dark and creepy.

7. Tolkien introduces us to a lot of places in this section of The Two Towers, many just getting a mention in passing. What do you think of Tolkien's place names (Minas Morgul, Isengard, the Emyn Muil, and on and on)? Do any stand out to you? Are there any that you don't care for?

I love the names. They are unlike any other names I know so I go into them with no preconceived notions. When you later hear the names again - the movies, re-reads - it conjures up vivid memories that don't belong to anything else.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: Chaos by David Meyer

Chaos is the debut novel of David Meyer.

Book Description
New York City, 1976: Heavily-armed, masked men hijack a subway train...and its deadly cargo.

New York City, Present: An expedition vanishes while conducting a top-secret operation deep underground.

A SHATTERED MAN WITH NOTHING TO LOSE...

To locate his missing friend, former urban archaeologist Cyclone Reed must piece together his shattered life and return to the one place on earth he truly fears...Manhattan.

A LOST WORLD FULL OF DANGER...

Soon, he's storming through flooded subway tunnels, discovering a lost laboratory, battling a mysterious man-eating beast, and scaling a mountainous skyscraper. But as he plunges deeper into the strange and murky legends surrounding a piece of forgotten technology, he begins to untangle a staggering conspiracy.

A SHOCKING SECRET THAT WILL ROCK THE EARTH!

More than sixty years ago, a Nazi physicist created a weapon capable of setting the world aflame. Now, a diabolical industrialist plans to finish the job. At stake is the future of a nation…millions of innocent lives…and one man's final chance at redemption.


David Meyer is a treasure hunting adventurist who loves to study ancient mysteries and lost lands. He has taken his passion and turned it into the basis of his first thriller.

Chaos follows Cyclone, an urban archaeologist, into the underground tunnels of Manhattan. The tunnels (and the man eating beast!) reminded me a lot of Preston and Child's Reliquary. Good times.

Cyclone is searching for a Nazi secret weapon that was hidden away decades ago. He must find this device before it winds up in the wrong hands. Of course the wrong hands are right on Cyclone's tail.

If you're like me and you love watching shows like Ancient Aliens on the History Channel, Chaos is right up your alley. It's based on some really cool mysteries and science but mixed in with bad guys and monsters. You can check out more about Chaos and the mysteries behind it at David Meyer's fantastic blog Guerrilla Explorer.

6/10: Good Read

Review copy provided by author

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book News: Robert McCammon Ebooks

Open Road Media released nine (9!) of McCammon's books as ebooks yesterday. If you haven't read Robert McCammon or you simply haven't read them all, I can't recommend enough that you do so.



These are the Open House Media ebooks now available at Amazon, BN, Sony, Kobo, etc. These titles are also supposed to be available through Overdrive.com. I'm hoping that means you will be able to check them out through your local library, but I don't see them on there yet.

And yes, I'm a bit shocked by the covers. Mostly because they don't match the price tag, but they also don't do the stories any justice. These are pretty epic must reads.

The Wolf's Hour

On the eve of D-Day, a British secret agent with unique powers goes behind Nazi lines

Michael Gallatin is a British spy with a peculiar talent: the ability to transform himself into a wolf. Although his work in North Africa helped the Allies win the continent in the early days of World War II, he quit the service when a German spy shot his lover in her bed. Now, three years later, the army asks him to end his retirement and parachute into occupied Paris. A mysterious German plan called the Iron Fist threatens the D-Day invasion, and the Nazi in charge is the spy who betrayed Michael’s lover. The werewolf goes to France for king and country, hoping for a chance at bloody vengeance.



Mine

A mother fights to rescue her newborn from a six-foot-tall madwoman

No one knows Mary Terrell’s real name. She killed a man during the climax of the Summer of Love, and for two decades she has changed her name and location regularly, always keeping watch over her shoulder for the FBI. She has three passions: LSD, firearms, and children. She visits toy stores a few times a week, picking out a baby doll to take home and treat as a child. The new family always starts out happy, but when the baby refuses to eat, Mary gets angry. Murdered dolls fill her closet, and the woman who calls herself Mary Terror is tired of children made of plastic.

Laura Clayborne’s marriage gives her little joy, but she can’t wait for her son to come into the world. But if Mary Terror has her way, it won’t be long before he leaves it again.



Blue World

A novella and twelve stories from a master of supernatural horror

Father John has lived his whole life without knowing a woman’s touch. Hard at first, his self-denial grew easier over time, as he learned to master his urges with a regimen of prayer, cold showers, and jigsaw puzzles. That changed the day that Debra Rocks entered his confessional. A rough-talking adult film actress, she has come to ask him to pray for a murdered costar. Her cinnamon perfume infects Father John, and after she departs he becomes obsessed. Around the corner from his church is a neon-lit alley of sin. He goes there hoping to save her life before he damns himself.

That is “Blue World,” the novella that anchors this collection of chilling stories by Robert R. McCammon. Although monsters, demons, and murderers fill these pages, in McCammon’s world the most terrifying landscape of all is the barren wasteland of a lost man’s soul.



Swan Song

McCammon’s epic bestselling novel about a girl psychic struggling to survive in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust

Something flashes in nine-year-old Swan’s brain, telling her that trouble is coming. Maybe it’s her mother, fed up with her current boyfriend and ready to abandon their dismal trailer park and seek a new home. But something far worse is on the horizon. Death falls from the sky—nuclear bombs which annihilate American civilization. Though Swan survives the blast, this young psychic’s war is just beginning.

As the survivors try to make new lives in the wasteland, an evil army forms, intent on murdering all those tainted with the diseases brought by fallout. When Swan finds a mysterious amulet that could hold the key to humankind’s salvation, she draws the attention of a man more dangerous than any nuclear bomb. To rescue mankind, this little girl will have to grow up fast.



Mystery Walk

Two young psychics do battle with an ancient evil

Billy Creekmore was born to be a psychic. His mother, a Choctaw Indian schooled in her tribe’s ancient mysticism, understood that the barrier between life and death is permeable. She knew how to cross it, and used that knowledge to help the dead rest easier. She passed that power on to her son, and he has spent his whole life learning how to communicate with the dead to prevent them from meddling with the living.

Though his powers are the same, Wayne Falconer’s background could not be more different. The son of a prominent preacher, he would be disowned if his father learned he was using supernatural powers in service of the church. Though they don’t know each other, Billy and Wayne share a recurring dream—and a common enemy. When a nightmarish monster descends on their community in Alabama, mankind’s fate will rest in their hands.



Stinger

A UFO crash sends a small Texas town into uproar

The sun rises on Inferno and Bordertown: patches of civilization carved out of the tough Texas earth, watching each other and waiting to see which dies first. The copper mine is finished, and both towns—one for the whites and one for the Mexicans—are wasting away. Now a pair of mysterious visitors is about to make them shrink faster.

The black ball lands first. A small sphere, snapped off of an alien ship as it plummets through the atmosphere, it explodes onto Jessie Hammond’s truck. When Jessie’s daughter picks it up, the object possesses the young girl’s body and begins trying to communicate. As Jessie tries to rescue her daughter, something far more deadly sets down in the desert. An interstellar war has come to Texas, and Inferno is going to burn.



Gone South

A moment of madness forces a Vietnam veteran to run for his life

Two decades after he finished serving his country in the jungles of Southeast Asia, Dan Lambert still pays the price. As he hustles for construction work in the heat of a brutal Louisiana summer, Dan tries to ignore the pounding in his head—a constant reminder of the Agent Orange–caused leukemia which will soon end his life. And now the bank wants to repossess his truck. His attempt to reason with the loan officer does not get him far. Dan loses himself in rage, and for a moment is back in the jungle again. When he comes out of his bloodlust, he has shot the banker through the chest. There is nothing to do but run.

On his trail are two peculiar bounty hunters: a onetime Siamese twin and a heavyset Elvis impersonator. To save his own life, Dan is going to have to remember why it was worth living in the first place.



Boy's Life

In Zephyr, Alabama, a bizarre murder is only the beginning

Small town boys see weird sights, and Zephyr has provided Cory Jay Mackenson with his fair share of oddities. He knows the bootleggers who lurk in the dark places outside of town. On moonless nights, he’s heard spirits congregate in the churchyard to reminisce about the good old days. He’s seen rain that flooded Main Street and left it crawling with snakes. Cory knows magic, and relishes it as only a young boy can.

One frosty winter morning, he and his father watch a car jump the curb and sail into the fathomless town lake. His father dives into the icy water to rescue the driver, and finds a naked corpse handcuffed to the wheel. This chilling sight is only the start of the strangest period of Cory’s life, when the magic of his town will transform him into a man.



Usher's Passing

A struggling author must confront the dreadful secrets of his famous family’s past

Two men argue in the low light of one of nineteenth-century New York’s vilest bars. One is an aristocrat, clearly slumming, while the other, in appearance no better than the gutter-trash around him, is the finest author of his age. The wealthy man is Hudson Usher, come to berate Edgar Allen Poe for using Usher’s family history as fodder for his most famous story. The house of Usher has not fallen, Hudson boasts. It will endure into the centuries.

One hundred and fifty years later, the Usher line persists. The newest heir is Rix Usher, a hack horror writer whose ailing father has just called him back to the family’s North Carolina estate. To become the new Usher patriarch, Rix must confront a Gothic mystery more twisted than anything even Poe could have imagined.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

LOTR: The Two Towers Read-along: Week One

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers read-along started this past week. The read-along is hosted by the Little Red Reviewer, Geeky Daddy, and Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. Feel free to join us in the read-along or jump in the discussions if you've read the books or seen the movies!

Please be aware there will surely be spoilers if you haven't yet experienced The Lord of the Rings.

What is your favorite part of The Two Towers, thus far into the book?

The Ents. After reading The Fellowship of the Ring the first time, I remember telling my friend how I wished the forest had been more enchanted. He replied "Just wait". Oooh. I couldn't have asked for more than Treebeard and the stories of the Elves awakening the trees.

What were your thoughts of Boromir trying to defend Merry and Pippin from Orc archers?

I think Boromir would have done anything to protect the hobbits after turning on Frodo the way he did. The ring was now out of his presence and his mind had turned to remorse. It's also in his nature to protect his land and his people.

What thoughts would have been going through your mind if you were approached by Treebeard?

"I knew it!" I've always had a love for enchanted forests. If I ran into Treebeard I would feel like I was let in on a secret I already knew existed. And I would be absolutely terrified, especially if a tree already tried to swallow me...

What were your thoughts and reactions of the battle at the Hornburg?

I love the relationship forming between Gimli and Legolas.

Do you like it that Tolkien has split the Company into three mini-quests? Do you wonder if the company will be together throughout the quest again?

I do like that they are split up. I feel like I am getting more of the full story that way. I think the hope that they will join back together is an extension of hoping for a happy ending.

You can find more discussions of The Two Towers here:

Little Red Reviewer
Geeky Daddy
Stainless Steel Droppings
The Written World
The Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf
Lynn’s book blog

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Notable New Book Releases [Oct. 9 - Oct. 15]

These are the new releases that caught my eye this past week. Check out my review of Ashfall if you like young adult post-apocalyptic fiction. Be sure to let me know what books excited you this week!

Ashfall by Mike Mullin
Pub Date: October 11, 2011

[Read my review of Ashfall here.]

Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don't realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the Earth forever.

Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when the supervolcano erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.

Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter. When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait--to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.

With nonstop action, a little romance, and realistic science, debut author Mike Mullin tells a mesmerizing story. Readers will turn Ashfall's pages breathlessly, and continue to ponder Alex and Darla's fate long after they close the book.



Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Pub Date: October 11, 2011

From the author of the international and New York Times bestseller Let the Right One In (Let Me In) comes this stunning and terrifying book which begins when a man's six-year-old daughter vanishes.One ordinary winter afternoon on a snowy island, Anders and Cecilia take their six-year-old daughter Maja across the ice to visit the lighthouse in the middle of the frozen channel. While the couple explore the lighthouse, Maja disappears -- either into thin air or under thin ice -- leaving not even a footprint in the snow. Two years later, alone and more or less permanently drunk, Anders returns to the island to regroup. He slowly realises that people are not telling him all they know; even his own mother, it seems, is keeping secrets. What is happening in Domaro, and what power does the sea have over the town's inhabitants?

As he did with Let the Right One In and Handling the Undead, John Ajvide Lindqvist serves up a blockbuster cocktail of suspense in a narrative that barely pauses for breath.



The Walking Dead: Rise of The Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga
Pub Date: October 11, 2011

In the Walking Dead universe, there is no greater villain than The Governor. The despot who runs the walled-off town of Woodbury, he has his own sick sense of justice: whether it’s forcing prisoners to battle zombies in an arena for the townspeople’s amusement, or chopping off the appendages of those who cross him. The Governor was voted “Villain of the Year” by Wizard magazine the year he debuted, and his story arc was the most controversial in the history of the Walking Dead comic book series. Now, for the first time, fans of The Walking Dead will discover how The Governor became the man he is, and what drove him to such extremes.



Haunts: Reliquaries of the Dead by Stephen Jones
Pub Date: October 11

THE RESTLESS DEAD

Life is over but the dead live on. Within the drafty rooms of an old house, a tarnished locket tumbles to the floor. The haunted souls of the dearly departed are still among us. Ghosts, phantoms, revenants, lost souls — all these troubled spirits have unfinished business on this side of the veil. Doomed to seek out mortal answers, unable to rest until in death, they accomplish what they failed to achieve in life. This hair-raising collection of haunted tales brings together both new writers and celebrated masters — Ramsey Campbell, Christopher Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Richard Matheson, Michael Marshall Smith and others — for the ultimate collection from beyond the grave. Their characters are spirits, without bodies but still floating in our world. Some are motivated by love, others by loss or guilt. But sometimes they are driven by much stronger emotions, menacing and diabolical motives that take us up from our reading to check the hallways, secure the locks and question how firmly anchored we ourselves are to our world.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Ashfall is the first book in the YA Ashfall series from Mike Mullin.

Book Description
Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don't realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the Earth forever.

Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when the supervolcano erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.

Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter.  When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait--to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.

With nonstop action, a little romance, and realistic science, debut author Mike Mullin tells a mesmerizing story. Readers will turn Ashfall's pages breathlessly, and continue to ponder Alex and Darla's fate long after they close the book.


Ashfall is a real pageturner. I made the mistake of starting Ashfall when I was ready to go to bed. Don't do that if you require lots of beauty sleep.

Mike Mullin threw build-up and foreshadowing out the window when he wrote Ashfall. The supervolcano eruption... chapter one. That's how I love my stories. There is a lot of action in Ashfall, and it is all delivered without apology.

The natural disaster aspect of Ashfall evoked a lot of emotion in me. The story itself is well written and thought provoking, but as someone who has been through multiple hurricanes, I made a lot of emotional connections to Ashfall. I'm also never, ever letting my son quit TaeKwonDo.

I was pleasantly surprised to find Ashfall to be more than a young adult book about survival. There are also strong elements of YA romance, post-apocalypse and even some dystopia. The girl lead Darla is a bad ass, but she's vulnerable when she needs to be. Alex is the opposite (in a nice way). He's vulnerable, but a badass when he needs to be.

Once again - how does this keep happening to me?! - I wasn't aware Ashfall was a series. When will I understand YA = series? Thankfully there was no frustrating cliffhanger. I feel like a received a complete story, and I'm left with the typical craving for more you get with a good first book in a series. I will definitely pick up Ashen Winter when it is released next fall.

If you are a YA fan of the post-apocalyptic flavor and you don't mind some brutal and unforgiving scenes, you need to read Ashfall. Just make sure you don't start reading it at bedtime!

8/10: Great read

Review copy provided by publisher

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Guest Post: What’s the worst that can happen? by M.J. Rose

I'm so excited to welcome M.J. Rose to Book Den today! She is known for breaking new ground, and next week she is releasing the first e-fan fiction book written by a published author.

One day I started to fantasize what would happen if my character from The Butterfield Institute series (http://www.mjrose.com/content/books_butterfield.asp), Dr. Morgan Snow got some of my favorite tough guys in suspense on her couch. What twisted pasts, what traumas, what mysteries would she discover?

How much fun would it be to try it, was my first thought.

What a crazy creative challenge, was my second.

But could I ever get up the nerve to ask Lee Child Steve Barry or Barry Eisler to let me borrow their bestselling characters? No less put them in compromising positions.

And even if I could pull it off and write in their voices, what possible reason would any of them have for saying yes?

The most important thing my mother taught me was not to be afraid of trying something out of my comfort zone. “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” she’d ask when something made me nervous. Together we’d go through all the possible results. Talking them out one by one- they never seemed as bad as they did in my imagination.

So I took a really deep breath and asked Lee Child first. He said he couldn’t imagine Reacher ever going to see a sex therapist but if I could pull it off, it sounded like fun. Steve Berry was next. He said pretty much the same thing. Eisler was no different.

The stakes got higher when Phil Gigante - who along with Natalie Ross –said they’d narrate the stories if the project came to fruition came up with a marvelous idea. What about asking Dick Hill - Reacher’s Voice, Scott Brick – Malone’s voice, and Eisler - who does Rain – to do their own dialog in the audio version?

I spent a good part of the summer writing the stories. Alternating enjoying the hell out the challenge, agonizing and cursing my hubris. Why had I thought I could do this? These are well established heroes. They have their unique ways of talking, thinking and acting. Not to mention the possible really awful rejection.

When it was time to send them off, have the authors read my efforts, do some editing if they wanted and hopefully give their blessing, I totally froze.

I’d written 11 novels. Had my share of nice accolades and reviews. Felt fairly good about my career. But suddenly I was as nervous as a the proverbial (and virginal) bride on her wedding night.

Why was I actively courting rejection and embarrassment? Why was I putting three writers who I respect and admire in the uncomfortable position of having to tell me I’d failed?

For an entire week I thought about scrapping the whole idea and not showing any of them the stories.

Finally I got to the core question. Really, what was the worst thing that could happen?

Amazingly, I never found out. And boy, did I have fun!

In honor of these amazingly generous authors who shared their heroes with me a share of the e-book proceeds and all the audio proceeds of In Session will be donated to David Baldacci's Wish You Well Foundation, supporting family literacy. (wishyouwellfoundation.org/)

You can pre-order In Session here. You can learn more about M.J. Rose at http://www.mjrose.com.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Book Review: Black Light by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, Stephen Romano

Black Light is the first novel written by the guys who wrote the later (IV, V, VI, 3D) Saw movies - Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, and Stephen Romano.

Book Description
If you have a supernatural problem that won't go away, you need Buck Carlsbad: private eye, exorcist, and last resort.

Buck's got a way with spirits that no one else can match. He was normal, once. Until Something Horrible killed his parents and left him for dead.

Buck has spent years using his gift to trace his family. It's his only hope of finding out what happened to them-and what made him the way he is.

Now the voices say that something big is coming. Buck already knows what it is-a super high-tech bullet train running express across a stretch of unforgiving desert known for the most deadly paranormal events in history. A place where Buck almost died a few years ago, and where he swore he would never return.

But as the train prepares to rumble down the tracks, Buck knows it can only be the inevitable hand of fate pulling him back to the most harrowing unfinished case of his career at four hundred miles per hour.

Black Light is a ghost story unlike any other haunted tale I have read. Buck earns his living as a ghost whisperer of sorts. Instead of gently leading them into the light, however, Buck pretty much chews them up and spits them out.

When Buck gets an offer to eliminate spirits on a hyperspeed train, he knows somethings not right, but he can't pass up the chance to get more answers about his past from the Black Light.

Like the hyperspeed train itself, Black Light is an intense experience with non-stop action. I enjoyed reading this supernatural thriller and really appreciate its originality.

6/10: Good read

Additional Topics of Interest:
Other ghost books reviewed at Book Den

Review copy provided by publisher

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Notable New Book Releases [Oct. 2 - Oct. 8]

These are the new releases that caught my eye this week (ordered by publication date). It's a pretty good list for the first week in October. Are any of these on your reading list? What else are you excited about reading this week?

The Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates
Pub Date: October 3, 2011

[I'm still on the fence about this one. Have you read it?]

A chilling and masterfully crafted teen horror novel guaranteed to keep the pages turning, the mind reeling, and the lamp on any reader's bedside table on long after midnight. Privileged and popular Caleb Mason is celebrating his high school graduation when he receives a mysterious, disturbing letter from his long-lost childhood playmate, Christine. Caleb and his jokester friend Bean decide to travel to his tiny hometown of Hudsonville, Florida, to find her. Upon arrival, they discover the town has taken a horrifying turn for the worse. Caleb's childhood home is abandoned and his father has disappeared. Children are going missing. The old insane asylum has reopened, and Christine is locked inside. Her mother, a witch, is consumed with madness, and Christine's long-dead twin sister whispers clues to Caleb through the static of an a.m. radio. The terrifying prophesies of the spirits are coming to pass. Sixteen clocks are ticking; sixty-six murdered souls will bring about the end of the world. As Caleb peels back layer after layer of mystery, he uncovers a truth more horrible than anything he had imagined, a truth that could only be uttered by the lips of the dead.



Borealis by Ronald Malfi
Pub Date: October 4, 2011

[Is there where I admit my obsession with The Deadliest Catch and all things related to crab fishing on the Bering Sea? I really want to read this one!]

On a routine crabbing expedition in the Bering Sea, Charlie Mears and the rest of the men aboard the trawler Borealis discover something unbelievable: a young woman running naked along the ridge of a passing iceberg. The men rescue her and bring her aboard the boat. But they will soon learn her horrible secret. By the time they find out why she was alone on the ice—and what she truly is—the nightmare will have begun, as one by one she infects them with an evil that brings about unimaginable terrors.



The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
Pub Date: October 4, 2011

[This one comes highly recommended to me. It's getting great reviews, too.]

In a dusty corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire, a door has long been sealed shut with 39 six-inch-long carriage bolts.

The home's new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin ten-year-old daughters. Together they hope to rebuild their lives there after Chip, an airline pilot, has to ditch his 70-seat regional jet in Lake Champlain due to double engine failure. The body count? Thirty-nine.

What follow is a riveting ghost story with all the hallmarks readers have come to expect from bestselling, award-winning novelist Chris Bohjalian: a palpable sense of place, meticulous research, an unerring sense of the demons that drive us, and characters we care about deeply. The difference this time? Some of those characters are dead.



Black Light by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Stephen Romano
Pub Date: October 5, 2011

[Even though there are no Saw movies out this month - we do still get this new story from the guys who wrote Saw. Shh... I'm not a fan of Saw BUT I'm reading this and liking it so far.]

If you have a supernatural problem that won't go away, you need Buck Carlsbad: private eye, exorcist, and last resort.

Buck's got a way with spirits that no one else can match. He was normal, once. Until Something Horrible killed his parents and left him for dead.

Buck has spent years using his gift to trace his family. It's his only hope of finding out what happened to them-and what made him the way he is.

Now the voices say that something big is coming. Buck already knows what it is-a super high-tech bullet train running express across a stretch of unforgiving desert known for the most deadly paranormal events in history. A place where Buck almost died a few years ago, and where he swore he would never return.

But as the train prepares to rumble down the tracks, Buck knows it can only be the inevitable hand of fate pulling him back to the most harrowing unfinished case of his career at four hundred miles per hour.



Wake Wood by K.A. John
Pub Date: October 6, 2011

[I found this little doozy on Amazon. Sounds good to me!]

The dead should never be woken

Still grieving after the death of their young daughter Alice in a frenzied dog attack, Patrick and Louise Daley leave the city to try and find some peace in the Irish countryside, and the village of Wake Wood seems like the perfect place to start again.But the residents are guarding a terrifying secret: they can resurrect the dead. However, the rules are strict, they will bring Alice back only if she has been dead for less than a year; and, after three days, she must be buried. Desperate to see their daughter again, even for just three days, the Daleys agree to everything. But they have been lying from the start. And by the time the villagers realise, it's too late. Alice is alive and she does not want to go back...

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Giveaway: My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody

Giveaway time! The awesome folks at Zeighost media are offering one lucky Book Den reader a copy of My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody.

My Life Undecided is about "...Brooklyn Pierce, a fifteen year-old girl notorious for making bad decisions, enlists the help of the online blog reading population to vote on how she should live her life. But some things in life simply aren't a choice...like who you fall in love with."

It sounds like a really cute read.


PLEASE READ THIS! MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!

Okay, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but I’m sorry, I’m feeling a bit melodramatic at the moment.

Here’s the deal. My name is Brooklyn Pierce, I’m fifteen years old, and I am decisionally challenged. Seriously, I can’t remember the last good decision I made. I can remember plenty of crappy ones though. Including that party I threw when my parents were out of town that accidentally burned down a model home. Yeah, not my finest moment, for sure.

But see, that’s why I started a blog. To enlist readers to make my decisions for me. That’s right. I gave up. Threw in the towel. I let someone else decide which book I read for English. And whether or not I accepted an invitation to join the debate team from that cute-in-a-dorky-sort-of-way guy who gave me the Heimlich maneuver in the cafeteria. (Note to self: chew the melon before swallowing it.) I even let them decide who I dated!

Well, it turns out there are some things in life you simply can’t choose or have chosen for you—like who you fall in love with. And now everything’s more screwed up than ever.





To enter, simply fill out the form below with your name and email address. I will leave the contest open through Friday, September 14. A random winner will be contacted on Saturday, September 15 to provide a valid mailing address. For more information, please see my contest policy.

Update: This contest is now closed. Congratulations to J.E. Medrick who has some serious giveaway luck!!

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Book Review: The Pattern Scars by Caitlin Sweet

The Pattern Scars is a dark fantasy novel from Caitlin Sweet.

Book Description
Nola is born into poverty in Sarsenay City. When her mother realizes that Nola has the gift of Othersight and can foretell the future, she sells her to a brothel seer, who teaches the girl to harness her gift. As she grows up, she embraces her new life, and even finds a small circle of friends. All too soon, her world is again turned upside down when one of them is murdered. When a handsome, young Otherseer from the castle promises to teach her, she eagerly embraces the prospects of luxury beyond what she can imagine and safety from a killer who stalks girls by night. Little does she know that he will soon draw her into a web of murder, treachery, and obsessive desire that will threaten the people and land she holds dear, and that she will soon learn the harshest of lessons: that being able to predict the future has nothing to do with being able to prevent it.

The Pattern Scars is the story of a seer named Nola. We first meet Nola as a young girl in her mother's house. Upon witnessing Nola's first "Othersight" vision, Nola's mother promptly sells her to a brothel owner. This first part of The Pattern Scars is my favorite part of the whole story. I loved experiencing Nola's visions and learning how the Othersight worked along with her.

The Pattern Scars continues to follow Nola's story over a large span of time and gets darker and darker all the way to the end. I got a little worried after the first big shift in the story, but by the end I even loved the parts I was originally unsure of. I also loved that The Pattern Scars was a complete novel. (No series, no cliffhanger, nothing ambiguous, everything was resolved.) It was very refreshing to receive the entire story.

If you love a good fantasy story, you should check out The Pattern Scars. It's a dark and different tale that I really enjoyed.

7/10: Recommended

Review copy provided by publisher

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Guest Post: Story Behind The Story: 1920 Gallery Card #4 by Armand Rosamilia

I'm happy to welcome Armand Rosamilia to Book Den today!

I've always collected baseball cards, and I got the drive from my father. In the mid-seventies we'd go to the local mom and pop store and buy them by the pack, chewing the bubble gum as we tried to build the set.

Writing and reading horror were also big parts of my life when I was a kid (got that from my mother), and with the story "1920 Gallery Card #4" I combined the two loves of my youth into one. At least, I hope.

The story is published in my Skulls horror short story collection, Six tales from author Armand Rosamilia, including "Memorial Site", "Vacation's End", "1920 Gallery Card #4", "Stairs To The Ocean", "Beastie", "Crow Mill Bridge" plus a preview of the urban horror novella "Death Metal". You can find it on Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Skulls-ebook/dp/B005LEPMQC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1317663141&sr=1-1

The story was written a number of years ago and was actually published in 2005 in a short story collection called Beastie and Other Horrific Tales, which I put out myself for a book-signing I had going on in town. After that I put it away, but when I was culling possible stories for the Skulls collection I knew it had to see the light of day again. Besides, not many of the Beastie… chapbooks got sold that day.

The story centers around the 'What If?' a prototype baseball card or cards had been produced the year before they hit the market, back in the 1920's. The story takes on a sinister and paranormal twist decades later. I won't spoil it for you, but people who've read it have likened it to a Twilight Zone episode, and I agree.

The best part is that you need to know almost nothing of baseball cards to understand it. I think. Anyway, it's a solid story from my past - if I do say so myself.

I also like the story (which I didn't edit except for a few minor word mis-spells) because it shows the progress I've had as an author over the years, and (hopefully) shows my growth.

Thanks for taking the time to read about me, my story, and hopefully you'll read further and check out my releases.

Armand Rosamilia

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed by Patrick Rothfuss

This is not a book for children.

It looks like a children's book. It has pictures. It has a saccharine-sweet title. The main characters are a little girl and her teddy bear. But all of that is just protective coloration. The truth is, this is a book for adults with a dark sense of humor and an appreciation of old-school faerie tales.

There are three separate endings to the book. Depending on where you stop, you are left with an entirely different story. One ending is sweet, another is horrible. The last one is the true ending, the one with teeth in it.

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle is a dark twist on the classic children's picture-book. I think of it as Calvin and Hobbes meets Coraline, with some Edward Gorey mixed in.

Simply said: This is not a book for children.

I discovered The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed over at Stainless Steel Droppings. I followed Carl's advice and checked my library for a copy.  What a gem this turned out to be! As the description states, this is not a book for children. The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle is definitely for people with a dark sense of humor.


Mr. Whiffle is the Princess's teddy bear. They spend their days playing outside and having fun adventures together.


The Princess and Mr. Whiffle are not frightened during the day.


The Princess and Mr. Whiffle, however, do not like the dark. There is something in the castle that loves the dark.


The Princess and Mr. Whiffle was such a unique and delightful read. I loved the illustrations (by Nate Taylor), and I just really enjoyed experiencing this book. It made me smile, laugh, gasp, cover my eyes and peak out in terror... It also made me immediately reread it. If you are a fan of dark fairy tales, you will love The Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed.

8/10: Great read

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