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Monthly "READS" > JUNE 2010 Reads

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JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
please post your June reads here. A little info is nice, too

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Please click on the links to read my comments on the books I read in June

Eleanor and Abel by Annette Sanford 4 stars

Maryland's Eastern Shore: A Journey in Time and Place by John R. Wennersten 2 stars

Bill Bryson's African Diary
by Bill Bryson 4 stars

Bones to Ashes (Temperance Brennan, #10) by Kathy Reichs 3 stars

The Descendants: A Novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings 3 stars

61 Hours by Lee Child 3 stars

House Justice: A Joe DeMarco Thriller by Mike Lawson

message 3: by Schmerguls (new)

Schmerguls | 257 comments What I Read in June 2010

4715 A Country of Vast Designs James K. Polk, the Mexican War, and the Conquest of the American Continent, by Robert W. Merry (read 4 Jun 2010) Although I read a biography of Polk as recently as May 29, 2008, I decided to read this because ante-bellum American history is so much fun to read. This book is felicitously written and tells the story of Polk's life well, concentrating on the four years, 1845 to 1849, that he was President. He had flaws but he had things he wanted to accomplish, including getting Oregon and California, and he got them. The Mexican War is hard to justify but I am glad the land we got in that war is part of the U.S.--just as I am glad the Indians do not still have the land they were cheated out of. I was amazed how the Cabinet in Polk's day was so much more important than it is now--and surely glad Polk did not pay much attention to his Secretary of State, James Buchanan. I enjoyed reading this book--it is clear, deals with interesting things, and has no dull page.

4716 Farewell, My Lovely, by Raymond Chandler (read 6 Jun 2010) In 1990 the Crime Writers Association picked "The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time" and this book was the highest-ranked book on the list which I had not read. In 1995 the Mystery Writers of America picked a similar list and this book was no. 21 thereon. So I read the book. It is the 3rd Chandler novel I have read (The Big Sleep on 21 Nov 1995 and Trouble Is My Business on 28 July 2002) This book is narrated by Philip Marlowe, a tough private detective in Los Angeles who witnesses a man killed by Moose Malloy, and one thing leads to more murders. He gets in all kinds of trouble and is almost killed several times but the denouement is a surprise. It was an O. K. read but not very subtle nor is it likely the things Marlowe had happen would be likely to happen--it is nice when a writer can simply have his character go through all kinds of bad things and come out victorious in the end. I cannot say I was entranced by this reading.

4717 Pacific War Diary 1942-1945, by James J. Fahey (read 10 Jun 2010) Last month when I read Whizzer White's biography I learned he had high praise for this book, which is a diary the author kept in secret as an enlisted man in the Navy. It tells practically day by day of his life on the cruiser U.S.S. Montpelier. He was in the Solomons from Oct 1942 to May 1944, the Marianas from May 1944 to August 1944, home on leave from Aug 1944 to Oct 1944, in the Philippines from Oct 1944 to June 1945, off Borneo in June and July 1945 and in China and Japan July 1945 to Dec 1945. The book was not published till 1963, when it was praised by President Kennedy, Samuel Eliot Morison, et al. It is a fantastic book and tells of the life of an enlisted man in deck division better than anything else I've ever read. There are many war memoirs, but this is so authentic an account, not fancied up in any way. He tells of what he did and since he apparently never rose above seaman first class he probably was a very ordinary sailor. But I admired him muchly, and if he ever did anything shameful it does not show in this book. One might think one would tire of the account, but I never did. He never mentions how he was able to so faithfully keep his (illegal) diary--though once when he had locker inspection he hid it in his pants! This is I think the most authentic war record by an enlisted man I've ever read.

4718 The Last Days of the Romanovs Tragedy at Ekaterinburg, by Helen Rappaport (read 12 Jun 2010) Outside of the fact the book has no footnotes (though a huge bibliography) this is a good book. especially the account of the dire events of July 16, 1917 and thereafter. Truly a gruesome story. The house where the Czar and his family were murdered was destroyed , and since the fall of Soviet Russia a cathedral has been built on the site, the Russian Orthodox Church having canonized Nicholas II and his family.

4719 The great Decision Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court, by Cliff Sloan and David McKean (read 13 Jun 2010) This is an account of Marbury v. Madison, decided in 1803 in a landmark opinion by Chief Justice Marshall. It is an excellently done book, explaining all that led up to the decision and the decision itself. Marshall did an astonishingly good job--Marbury losing, but in the opinion Marshall showed that Marbury had a right to his commission as justice of the peace but that since the U.S. Supreme Court had only appellate jurisdiction of the case and the case was brought originally in the Supreme Court the Court could not mandamus the Secretary of State to issue the commission. Obviously, since the Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction, it logically should not have decided Marbury was entitled to the commission, but the decision laid down the vital point: the Supreme Court can hold an act of Congress unconstitutional. (The Constitution says: "The Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction in all cases involving ambassadors,other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a State shall be a party"--did this case not involve "other public ministers"? This opinion does not even say why this phrase is inapplicable!) I enjoyed this book much--not a dull page. I presume only a lawyer could say that but it is surely true.

4720 William Cullen Bryant Author of America, by Gilbert H. Muller (read 17 Jun 2010) Because Bryant's poem "I Cannot Forget With What Fervent Devotion" is one of my favorite poems I decided I should read a biography of its author. This book was published in 2008 and is a nigh perfect biography, telling of his interesting life in chronological order, discussing poems with felicitous quotations therefrom, and paying adequate attention to the country's history as it affected Bryant, who was editor of the New York Post and played an important part in that history. I had a very good feeling about this biography and I don't know how it could be improved, except, unfortunately, it does not mention "I Cannot Forget With What Fervent Devotion."

4721 Passionate Sage The Character and Legacy of John Adams, by Joseph J. Ellis (read 19 Jun 2010) This book examines the character (very feisty, opinionated, and concerned about his standing in the opinions of others) and the legacy of Adams. It is a 1993 book and for several chapters it spent so much time examining Adams' opinions on political science that I was unentranced. But it got better and the discussion of Adams' letter-writing in his retirement and his character are really well-done and full of interest. Since I have read two full biographies of Adams heretofore I thought I had spent enough time on him, but this book throws a somewhat more critical look at his character, although still presenting him in a favorable light. I think his presidency was a very successful one even if people apparently did not think so at the time. His avoidance of war with France was something all should be grateful for. He was a character and basically a very conscientious and likeable man.

4722 1789 The Threshold of the Modern Age, by David Andress (read 25 Jun 2010) This book discusses events leading up to 1789 and then the events of that momentous year--the French Revolution, the Constitution of the U.S. coming into effect, and the writing of the Bill of Rights, the "madness" pf George III and the political unrest in Britain, etc. There is even a good chapter on the mutiny on the Bounty, which occurred Apr 23, 1789. There is much interesting in the book but it is not sprightly history but solid professional history. The author is a history professor at the University of Portsmouth in England.

4723 Captive Queen A novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine, by Alison Weir (read 29 Jun 2010) This is a historical novel which strives to tell what is true and only adds what is not known but which is likely to be true. At the beginning this book seems pretty simplistic, but one gets caught up in the history and it is an easy way to revive one's memory of that period--Eleanor was born in 1122 and died in 1204 and had a momentous life. But since the book adheres to what actually happened it is really a dismal story, what with Henry II's immoral life and tyrannical behavior and the bitter disputes he had with Eleanor and with his sons. But I found the reading easy and reasonably enjoyable.

Not a bad month.

message 4: by Alias Reader (last edited Jun 30, 2010 08:50PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) ** Cross posted at Good Reads Book Nook Cafe

Here are my June reads. Happy 4th of July everyone !

Robert Ballard Explorer and Undersea Archaeologist (Makers of Modern Science) by Lisa YountRobert Ballard: Explorer and Undersea Archaeologist~ Lisa Yount
Non Fiction
rate 2+
This is a young adult book. It is part of the Makers of Modern Science series. Ballard found the Titanic among other famous wrecks. It's well done.

The Promise President Obama, Year One by Jonathan AlterThe Promise: President Obama, Year One ~ Jonathan Alter
Non Fiction
Rate 3
Alter's book on FDR The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope was an excellent top rated book for me.
I was a bit disappointed in this book. It was solid, but it didn't have that special something that his FDR book had. Perhaps because I enjoy reading about the Great Depression and WWII. Still well done.

Open An Autobiography by Andre Agassi Open: An Autobiography Andre Agassi
Non Fiction
Rate 4
I am not a tennis fan, yet I was totally taken in my this memoir. It is very well written by the author of The Tender Bar: A Memoir ~ J.R. Moehringer . After reading this book one can see why Agassi says he hates tennis and is not encouraging his children in that direction.

The Genius in All of Us by David ShenkThe Genius in All of Us ~David Shenk
Non Fiction
Very interesting and motivational book. After reading Open, Agassi certainly fit the thesis of this book.

The book has a similar thesis toBounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success ~ Matthew Syed which I read and enjoyed last month.

Renaissance Art by Geraldine JohnsonRenaissance Art ~ Geraldine Johnson
Non fiction
rate 4
This slender book is part of the A Brief Insight series. It is well written and easy to understand.

What Should I Do with the Rest of My Life? True Stories of Finding Success, Passion, and New Meaning in the Second Half of Life by Bruce FrankelWhat Should I Do with the Rest of My Life?: True Stories of Finding Success, Passion, and New Meaning in the Second Half of Life ~ Bruce Frankel
Non Fiction
rate 2 +
Inspiring book that profiles people who have done interesting things with their lives after the age of 60.

The Best Kind of Different Our Family's Journey with Asperger's Syndrome by Shonda SchillingThe Best Kind of Different: Our Family's Journey with Asperger's Syndrome ~ Shonda Schilling
Non fiction
rate 3
Shonda Schilling is the wife of MLB baseball star Curt Schilling. Curt and their children have ADD and one child has aspergers. The books focus is on how Shonda deals with the diagnosis as well as what it is like to be the wife of a MLB player.

Woodrow Wilson (Penguin Lives) by Louis Auchincloss Woodrow Wilson Louis Auchincloss
Non fiction
rate 1
This book is part of the Penguin Lives series. It's the second book in the series I've read. The other one was on Teddy Roosevelt. Somehow this author has taken two very exciting subjects and made them dry and boring.

Documenting World War I (Documenting History) by Philip SteeleDocumenting World War I ~ Philip Steele
Non fiction
Rate 3+
This is one of two young adult book on WWI that I read this month. If you are looking to quickly brush up on the topic, this is a good pick. There were a lot of good photos. And I picked up a few interesting tidbits. For example, the British royal family anglicized their name from Wettin to Windsor due to anti German sentiment at the time.

Also ever wonder why veterans hand out poppies when you donate money to them? Well, poppies grew all over the many battlefield trenches in France after the war. It came to symbolize remembrance.

World War 1 1914-18 (Documenting History) by Christine HattWorld War 1 1914-18 ~ Christine Hatt
Non fiction
rate 3+
This is the other WWI book I read. As with the other book, it contains some very interesting photo's. One was of a young boyish looking Patton in uniform. He certainly didn't look like the tough hard George C. Scott.

Mount Pleasant by Steve PoiznerMount Pleasant ~ Steve Poizner
Non fiction
rate 3
Poizner is a multi millionaire entrepreneur from Silicon Valley. After selling his start up company for one billion dollars, he decides he would like to help change the California public school system which are faltering badly. With a goal of making a difference in the students lives, and get an inside view of things, he decides to teach high school for a semester at Mount Pleasant High School. Mount Pleasant HS is anything but pleasant. It is a run down school with students who are not making the grade and don't seem to care. His experience at the HS as led him to found the California Charter Schools Association. Also he is now running for Governor of California.

message 5: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 81 comments I've seen numerous articles that show that our local charter schools are doing no better than the government run schools at raising the scores of students on the standard tests. So I'm not impressed by Poizner's solution.

Poizner's run for governor is over. He lost the Republican primary to former E-Bay CEO Meg Whitman.

message 6: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments x-posted at M/T Reading Friends

Had plenty of time to read this month while watching both the Reds and the World Cup with the sound turned down. Here are my June reads:

Top Reads

When March Went Mad The Game That Transformed Basketball by Seth Davis
When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball
Seth Davis
This was right up my alley. I was a basketball mad sixth grader in 1979 and jumped on the Indiana State bandwagon fairly early. This book helped me to appreciate Michigan State's year and how they had to really overcome quite a bit of adversity just to reach the tournament. It was great to revisit the memories of some of my favorite tournament games (especially Indiana State vs. Arkansas which is still the best game I have ever watched).

The Score A Parker Novel (Parker) by Richard Stark
The Score: A Parker Novel
Richard Stark
Another excellent Parker adventure. Parker is the most competent character in crime fiction and the series just keeps getting better.

An Excellent Mystery The Eleventh Chronicle of Brother Cadfael by Ellis Peters
An Excellent Mystery: The Eleventh Chronicle of Brother Cadfael
Ellis Peters
One of the better entries in the Brother Cadfael series. Listened to the audio version read by the always stellar Patrick Tull.

The Dogs of War by Frederick Forsyth
The Dogs of War
Frederick Forsyth
Not quite up to the standards of The Day of the Jackal or The Odessa File, but better than most modern day thrillers. Perhaps a bit too realistic (lots of descriptions of the very mundane details of procuring equipment and budgeting) and had quite the cynical outlook (which was a plus for me). The final part of the book flew by and I thought the ending was outstanding.

Good Reads

Rumpole's Last Case (Rumpole) by John Mortimer
Rumpole's Last Case
John Mortimer
It's always fun to catch up with the greatest barrister of all time. Listened to the audio version read by Bill Wallis.

City of Bones (Harry Bosch, #8) by Michael Connelly
City of Bones
Michael Connelly
As always, smoothly written and very professional. Not quite as good as some of the earlier books in the series though.

Shadow of a tiger
Michael Collins
This is one of my favorite classic hard-boiled PI series.

Hit Hard A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top by Joey Kramer
Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top
Joey Kramer
Not your usual rocker's recovery memoir. Kramer recounts his breakdown and depression that stemmed from the various abusive relationships he was involved in, first with his father and then Steven Tyler.

A Quiet Flame (Bernie Gunther, #5) by Philip Kerr
A Quiet Flame
Philip Kerr
Not quite as good as the previous books in the series (the first three are excellent) but a good historical crime read. Much preferred the sections set in 1930's Germany than the parts set in post war Argentina. Kerr does a great job of describing the surreal atmosphere in Berlin at the time.

Murder Sunny Side Up
R. B. Dominic
Since this was written by the same authors (Emma Lathen) who wrote the Wall Street mysteries featuring John Putnam Thatcher I knew it would be well plotted with a touch of sharp humor and this did not disappoint. Set in Washington D. C. the members of a House subcommittee are trying to master the art of sleeping with their eyes open while their grandstanding chair conducts a hearing into a new egg preservation technique. Unfortunately the chair is poisoned and the next senior member (Ben Stafford, from Ohio) must take over the hearing and solve the murder.

The Black Book (Inspector Rebus, #5) by Ian Rankin
The Black Book
Ian Rankin
I've finally started to get into this series. Nice mix of characters, setting, and criminal activity.

Blackburn A Novel by Bradley Denton
Blackburn: A Novel
Bradley Denton
While usually I try to steer clear of any books with the serial killer taint this was different enough that I ended up thinking it was well worth reading. More of a character study, with some extremely dark humor. I originally meant to read it back when it was first published but had forgotten about it. Was reminded by the Rap Sheet's list of underappreciated books

Alice to Nowhere by Evan Green
Alice to Nowhere
Evan Green
Decent tale of suspense set in the Australian Outback in the fifties. The author did a great job of conveying how hard it is to survive, let alone thrive, the various elements (the heat, wind, and multitude of flies) of the remote Outback.

Midnight Cowboy by James Leo Herlihy
Midnight Cowboy
James Leo Herlihy
Very interesting read. The book was much different in tone than I was expecting (I have not seen the movie but knew the bare bones of the plot from various clips of the film I had seen on TV). The characters were very relatable, the various settings were very well done, and I felt it was very well written (the author's style did not overwhelm the story).

The Best Game Ever by Mark Bowden
The Best Game Ever
Mark Bowden
Nice overview of the famous NFL championship game of 1958. Concentrates mainly on Raymond Berry for the Colts and Sam Huff on the Giants side. Listened to the audio read by Phil Gigante.

OK Read
The Hunt for Sonya Dufrette (Darcy/Payne, Book 1) by R.T. Raichev
The Hunt for Sonya Dufrette
Inoffensive English House party mystery that really did not do much for me.


The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3) by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Stieg Larsson
My least favorite of the trilogy. Thought this book was terribly paced with far too many diversions. Found myself bored with Lisbeth's trials and tribulations. Too bad because I did really like the first book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Listened to the audio read by Simon Vance who made the journey bearable.

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Shomeret wrote: "I've seen numerous articles that show that our local charter schools are doing no better than the government run schools at raising the scores of students on the standard tests. So I'm not impressed by Poizner's solution.

Poizner's run for governor is over. He lost the Republican primary to former E-Bay CEO Meg Whitman.

I guess the success of charter schools depends on where your "local" is. In our area charter schools have been a huge success as far as scores are concerned, and also the quality of the learning.

Meg Whitman meets my criteria for a good politician, as did Poizner.....experienced in business and in how things work....and how to get things done!

message 8: by Connie (new)

Connie (constants) | 49 comments The Most They Ever Had - Rick Bragg. I always enjoy Bragg's writing and this book was no exception.....he just has that wonderful way with words that so many Southern writers seem to have. Here he tells the stories of people who worked in the cotton mills of the south and how they struggled with the myriad of dangers of such work, knowing that it was providing them with "the most they ever had." Bragg said he worked longer and harder on this short book than any of his other lengthier books, and the stories he tells so beautifully are a tribute to that hard work. A-

The Lonely Polygamist - Brady Udall. The story of a man who, with 4 wives and 28 children, still was lonely. There are wonderful characters here, hilarious moments and heartbreaking ones. There are twists and turns and surprises and even though I felt like it was a little too long at 600 pages, I can't think of anything that could have been left out. Wonderful storytelling with no false notes. A

A Parchment of Leaves - Silas House. Set in rural Kentucky around the time of World War I, the story of a Cherokee woman whose marriage is happy but whose life is troubled when her husband's brother is clearly attracted to her. The writing is lovely and lyrical and although I thought this book was going to go off in the direction of the kind of "magical realism" that I dislike, there were only a few touches of it, and not enough to turn me off. A pretty good read. B+

Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House - Meghan Daum. This book was an absolute delight. Daum sort of tells the story of her life through the different places she's lived, and how she was always looking forward to the next place which, she knew, would make her life perfect. I read her novel, "Quality of Life Report" a few years ago - about a New Yorker who moved to Nebraska - and now reading her memoir, I recognize how close that fiction was to the truth of her life. I laughed out loud several times while reading this, and saw myself in more than one place. And this book also answered the question my son recently asked me about why women seem to love scented candles so much. A.

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Connie, I am looking forward to Daum's book even though it is that dreaded genre, memoir. I really liked her novel and have read a lot of her articles about her life.

message 10: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 01, 2010 08:46PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) Shomeret wrote: Poizner's run for governor is over. He lost the Republican primary to former E-Bay CEO Meg Whitman. ."

Thanks for the update.

I'm still glad I read the book. It was outside my comfort zone as Poizner is a conservative republican.

message 11: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments >>Bill Bryson's African Diary by Bill Bryson 4 stars<<


Thanks for mentioning Green City in the Sun by Barbara Wood in your review of Bill Bryson's African Diary. I have never come across her name and her work looks really interesting.

message 12: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Sandi wrote: "

Thanks for mentioning Green City in the Sun by Barbara Wood in your review of Bill Bryson's African Diary. I have never come across her name and her work looks really interesting. ..."

Some of her books are better than others. Some can be a bit "romanc-y". Another one of hers that was good and enlightening was Virgins of Paradise

message 13: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments >>Open: An Autobiography
I am not a tennis fan, yet I was totally taken in my this memoir. It is very well written by the author of The Tender Bar: A Memoir ~ J.R. Moehringer . After reading this book one can see why Agassi says he hates tennis and is not encouraging his children in that direction.<<

This is one sports memoir I am looking forward to. Agassi really seems to have changed for the better over the years.

message 14: by Meredith (new)

Meredith | 54 comments My June reads were Home to Big Stone Gap (Big Stone Gap, Book 4) by Adriana Trigiani This novel was like visiting old friends.
The Death of Faith by Donna Leon I really enjoy this mystery series set in Venice
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3) by Stieg Larsson Unlike Connie, I really enjoyed this book. This is an author that I am going to miss.


message 15: by Reeves (new)

Reeves Honey | 142 comments Sandi wrote: ">>Bill Bryson's African Diary by Bill Bryson 4 stars<<


Thanks for mentioning Green City in the Sun by Barbara Wood in your review of [book:Bill Bryson's African ..."

I am ashamed to say that the Green City In the Sun book has been in one of my many TBR piles around the house for about 12 years!

message 16: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
I have had Green City in the Sun on my "to be re-read" pile for years. I rarely have any desire to re-read a book, but that is one of them. Another couple are Advise and Consent and Michener's Chesapeake, which is on my "imminent" pile!

message 17: by Reeves (new)

Reeves Honey | 142 comments Well,coming from you that you would want to re-read this,I take it as high praise and will try to fit it in this summer!

message 18: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments Meredith wrote:
The Death of Faith by Donna Leon I really enjoy this mystery series set in Venice

I've also enjoyed the first two books in the Guido Brunetti series. Donna Leon does a great job with the Venice setting and I really like that Guido is a well adjusted family man.

Donna in Southern Maryland (cedarville922) | 133 comments Mod
I recently finished Whiplash
Whiplash (FBI Thriller, #14) by Catherine Coulter
the latest in her FBI series. It was exactly what I wanted it to be: a little mystery, a little romance, a little of the supernatural, a little humor, and what's new with the main characters, married FBI super agents Sherlock and Savich. Total fantasy, a no calorie snack for my overwhelmed brain right now. It appeared on the Post Top 10 list in it's first week out, so I"m not the only one.

I also noticed that The Help by Kathryn Stockett
has just a week or two more to go to make it a year on the Top Ten list. Amazing, the only one. I believe that they are making this into a movie.

Donna in Southern Maryland

message 20: by Heather (last edited Jul 05, 2010 06:59AM) (new)

Heather (medtechknitter) Books I read in June:

In the Place of Justice - Wilbert Rideau Great read about the Louisiana justice system, thought-provoking and very well written for an eighth grade drop out who educated himself while severing his 44 years in one of the worst prisons in America.

The Swan Thieves - Elizabeth Kostova Love the way this is written and will probably read her next novel also.

Finger Lickin Fifteen - Janet Evanovich Laugh out loud great read as always. Simple entertainment.

A match for Mary Bennet: Can a Serious Young Lady Ever Find Her Way to Love? - Eucharista Ward I love anything that continues the Jane Austen novels.

message 21: by RNOCEAN (new)

RNOCEAN | 93 comments I just finished "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" by Aimee Bender and I loved it. I have already ordered her 3 other books. The subject matter was melancholy but written so beautifully that I hated for it to end.

message 22: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 81 comments I went to a reading of this book last month and purchased it, but haven't gotten to it yet. I'm glad you liked it so much.

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