The Intruder by P.S. Hogan – #BlogTour

Hi guys – today is the last day of January – did you also have the feeling that it is the longest month ever? Awfully long. It’s great that we have some great books to read at least.

And of of such great books is for sure “The Intruder” by P.S. Hogan. I am deep into the story and guys, really, it’s so creepy and so unputdownable, keep your eyes peeled for my review in the next days. Today I have a post about the inspiration for the book. I always worry that the inspiration – question is the most cliched one but I am also always incredibly curious what has driven the authors to write the stories. So here it is – enjoy!

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The Inspiration for THE INTRUDER

 

It’s hard to pin down the moment that William Heming sprang into being. You could say he coalesced rather than sprang, though there must have been a point in the thinking process when he started to seem knowable; a point where you might predict what he would do next. Like most fictional characters, Heming is a product as much of accident as design, knocked and pulled together by other elements of a book in its endless early making and unmaking – its still-shaky structure, unsettled foundations, and other unformed characters all bumping about trying to get noticed.

One of the illusions of having completed your book is to persuade yourself that the characters you created were there all along; that you just had to make them talk and maybe kill or have sex with one another. The truth is that for much of the time you’re closing your eyes and ears and hoping for the best. Unless that’s just me. I won’t pretend that a lot of the process didn’t involve spiking the drinks of my friends, dragging them to a dark cell (or corner of a pub) and forcing them to help me out of some inescapable narrative hole I had dug for myself.

My wife once told me about a cousin or aunt or sister-in-law who’d had a ceramic artwork stolen from her house. The house had been up for sale and the culprit, it turned out much later, was a man showing buyers around the place on behalf of the estate agent. It turned out too (perhaps he had appeared in court – I don’t know) that the man was a retired policeman. Apparently, it is not uncommon for agents to retain trusted, personable individuals to open up properties on an ad hoc basis.

Our man seemed interesting. The ceramic artwork had not been worth much – but then perhaps nothing he had stolen was worth much (I assumed the thieving had become a habit). I started to wonder what deep-lying psychological impulse was behind his behaviour. Maybe he had been drummed out of the force unfairly and wanted some sort of twisted revenge – certainly that was a way into a novel. Perhaps he had it in his mind to commit crimes, and then – yes! – solve them, to the astonishment of his slow-witted former colleagues, perhaps with the finger of blame left pointing at some real corrupt officer of the law. I really didn’t want to write about a policeman, though.

I wanted to write about someone ordinary, or rather someone who looked ordinary but wasn’t. And, given that, wouldn’t it be simpler, I thought, just to make a thief out of an estate agent himself – a person who had access to other people’s houses all the time? Thievery was not enough though. Other acts of mischief came to mind. I dwelt for some time on that notion of revenge – or, more attractive, that spirit of the citizen vigilante whereby one man might utterly destroy another man’s morale and life as punishment for crimes against good manners. (Some of that spirit remains, of course.)

For a long time, too, I envisaged Heming as a conventionally weird villain, but this unhelpfully kept suggesting a focus on the detective trying to track him down – the dogged pursuer finally kicking down the door of Heming’s secret lair to reveal his gleaming, obsessive secrets. Eventually I realized the boot was on the wrong foot. It was Heming who needed to tell the story. It was he who needed to do the revealing. And the questions would be more fundamental. What was his story? Where had he come from? What was his problem? And – what consistency could I bring to his character as a result of finding out these things?

Anyway, that was the beginning. That’s when Heming moved in, hollowing out a space in my head – the dusty attic of my idling thoughts – creating doubt and havoc, fiddling with the lights, making a nonsense of my great ideas when I was asleep or making me forget things at the supermarket. That was him as he turned out: insidious, discreet– and so quiet, of course, you wouldn’t have known he was there at all.

 P. S. Hogan

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The Guilty Wife by Elle Croft

The Guilty Wife by Elle Croft

 

35478368Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 25th January 2018

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: Thriller, Psychological Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

WIFE. MISTRESS. MURDERER.

If you were being framed for murder, how far would you go to clear your name?

The debut psychological thriller that reads as Apple Tree Yard meets Behind Closed Doors, by way of Double Jeopardy.

I’m not guilty of murder.

Bethany Reston is happily married. But she’s also having an affair with a famous client.

And no one can ever know.

But that doesn’t make me innocent.

When Bethany’s lover is brutally murdered, she has to hide her grief from everyone.

But someone knows her secret. And then one day the threats begin.

With an ever-growing pile of evidence pointing to her as the murderer, the only way she can protect her secrets is to prove her innocence. And that means tracking down a killer.

An incredibly taut, tense game of cat and mouse – with a twist you’ll never see coming.

Rating: four-stars

In “The Guilty Wife” we meet Bethany Reston. She has a very happy marriage and she loves her husband Jason but she also loves her lover, a married millionaire businessman Calum. Bethany also runs her own business, she’s a photographer, and is doing rather well, and this is how she got to know Calum – through work. Bethany loves both men and she’s torn, she doesn’t want to hurt Jason, and Calum… well, he isn’t planning on leaving his wife, they lead an open marriage and it satisfies both him and his wife. But then Calum is stabbed to death and here is when Bethany’s trauma starts – she knows she’d be a primes suspect as his mistress when this knowledge comes to light, so she decides to hide away from the police. For how long? And who has really killed Calum? And why?

There were not many characters introduced to us in this story but thanks to that we were able to know them better and it made the whole novel even more gripping as we knew that the killer is among them. They were unreliable and good liars and you could trust no one. The whole story was told from Bethany’s point of view and yes, a few times it crossed my mind that maybe she IS the killer, and is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. She spends the whole story trying to prove her innocence and well, I think it’s impossible to not to fell for her at some point, even though she was a little egoistic liar and full of herself. I don’t think she has brought this all upon herself by having the affair, though of course I am not justifying the affair, it was obvious she’s being framed and honestly this knowledge awoke all kind of emotions in me – I was angry on her behalf, scared, furious… you name it, I probably felt it. And then this final twist… Urgh, guys…! SO ANNOYING!

It was fascinating to watch how the web around Bethany is closing and how she can’t trust anybody. As she knows she’s innocent, she tries to investigate on her own and starts to suspect everybody closest to her and those who were around Calum. I really didn’t know whom to trust as well, to be honest. It looked as if her life started to spiral out of control by itself, and there were things happening, such as dead flowers, photographs or items being left in her house without forced entry, her hacked social media accounts and it was not a wonder that Bethany was feeling paranoid – in my opinion she was really strong and remained sane for all the time, while I would probably break apart in the first second. The killer knew everything about her, and the only comfort is the love and support of her husband and her best friend Alex.

Altogether “The Guilty Wife” was a relative slow – burner but there was tension and mystery and the author has delivered a truly great psychological thriller. And this end, guys. This end. I can’t remember a story that would make me complain so loud as this one, and honestly, I can’t stop thinking about it. Such a case of duplicity… There were not many characters in this story so the suspects pool was narrowed, and the author kept hinting or messing and I really didn’t know, till the very end, who and – most importantly – why. But I’ll be honest with you, I’m not so sure about this end. It didn’t sit with me. I know, it’s controversial and thought – provoking and I so appreciate that Elle Croft didn’t chose the easiest path here but still, I think I personally would be more happy with a different end. Nevertheless, there were so many situations when the author took the story in unexpected directions. There were some – but not much – plot holes and there were moments that the book jumped quickly in times when we didn’t know what has happened in between (it was not significant, we didn’t have to know this, it’s just my own likes and dislikes and I just don’t like such jumping in time) but overall it was an original, unique and fresh read. “The Guilty Wife” was a compelling and gripping novel and I desperately wanted to know the outcome. The plot was complex and tightly woven and the author has messed with my mind all the time. Sure, the real culprit crossed my mind, I though about them but I still didn’t know about their motivations so it really took me by surprise. Recommended!

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The Girl Before by JP Delaney / #BlogTour + Guest Post

Hi guys, and happy Saturday. I was supposed to post my entry yesterday and I am so, so sorry for not doing it but I’ve spent unexpected three hours at the doctor with my daughter and I wasn’t able to think about anything other. APOLOGIES! It doesn’t usually happen and I feel really, really bad.

“The Girl Before” by JP Delaney was published in hardcover last year and this year sees the publication of the paperback. I read this book last year and let me tell you this, guys, it was one of the best books – absolutely unique, intriguing and captivating. Today I also have something very special for you – have you ever wondered how the application form to test your suitability look like? Ha, I thought so – me too! Scroll down for the guest post!

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

 

 

untitledPublisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 25th January 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection . . . but can you pay the price?

For all fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl comes this spellbinding Hitchcockian thriller which takes psychological suspense to the next level

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

Following in the footsteps of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, The Girl Before is being brought to the big screen. The film is set to be directed by Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard.

Rating: five-stars

When choosing a book to read I often follow my gut feeling, especially when it comes to the authors that I don’t know – although JP Delaney is a pen name for a best – selling author, and when reading “The Girl Before” I was looking for any hallmarks but I didn’t guess the real name – and when spotting this book I just had a feeling that this could be THE read. And well, yes, it turned out that I should trust my gut feeling as the book was totally engrossing and kept me glued to the pages. “The Girl Before” was a provocative, incredibly smart story about controlling and manipulations, making reader to ask who is reliable there and whom shall we trust.

Now. “The Girl Before”. We can start debating who the hell would go and live voluntarily in a house with 200 stipulations including no pets (no way), no children, no cushions, no curtains, no personal things on the floor, no books (hello?). And yet they signed on the dotted line. The house itself is an example of minimalism and the latest and best home technology, adjusting itself to the weather, temperature and probably the mood of the inhabitants. Originally designed by Edward Monkton as his family home but there was an accident on the site when his wife and his young son died. Also, he is the one who, after interviewing the prospective renters, is to decide if they’re going to live there or not. Weird, no? Who in their right mind would go for something like this? I wouldn’t, and I don’t want to go into this debate, but I thought that it is a brilliant and unique idea and premise for a book. For me the book sounded unique, not like others books that I read, and the only thing that didn’t work so good for me was the end, that sounded too Disney-like and somehow didn’t sit with the book. However, this is probably the only thing that I’m going to criticise. There were maybe some things that made me feel uncomfortable, just like building the house on the grave or some scenes with abuse – both human and animal – but nothing that would make me cringe.

The story alternates between Emma (Then) and Jane (Now), and the chapters were short and dynamic and it also made the story flow and reading much quicker. It was also the writing that makes this book so outstanding. It is sparse, but it is incredibly hooking and just beautiful – we can say just like the house! It just feels like the house, to be honest, white and with no barriers or unnecessary things and beautiful in its frugality. The way the stories of Emma and Jane mirrored made me feel a little claustrophobic and insecure, to be honest, it brought a lot of tension and changed my perspective more than once.
I loved how the story was divided between the two points of view. Both of them were in the first person but I’ve never had a problem to see who’s speaking. Duh, the chapters did have titles with the name of the characters! I also liked the way both stories were interwoven and how quickly and effortlessly they picked up when the other has just finished. Really, as the chapters flip back and forth the similarities between the women and their lives started to feel suspicious and somehow creepy, and it was obvious that eventually I’ll start to suspect Edward as well.

I think the characters there are not created to be liked by the readers. Their decisions didn’t help to warm to them, and it is not that I had problems with the characters but I did think that both the women, Emma and Jane, were incredibly naive. There were thousands of warning bells that they chose to ignore and the way they meekly agreed to be controlled by both house and Edward was remarkable and odd. I mean, allowing a man to control your diet and exercise? No, thank you. It was even more surprising that they were like lambs because they were both relatively troubled women and they should know better.
The house on One Folgate was like a living and breathing character itself, to be honest. I really started to believe that the house is trying to destroy the ones it doesn’t approve of, that it controls the lives. It was truly extraordinary how the author managed to create this special, claustrophobic atmosphere of this place.

It is not a book that is destined to make you scared or look over your shoulder. It is a book that is destined to make you feel tension and suspense, keep you in the dark and play with your mind. It is a slow burner, this novel, but with this kind of book it shouldn’t be different – well, you can’t expect the biggest twist to be explained on the first pages, right. No, you’re expecting it to grow slowly in tension, to change tracks, to pull wool over your eyes, and “The Girl Before” just does it. However, as the circle of suspects was very limited in the novel, the end didn’t come as such a BIG surprise, although the last quarter of the story truly meddled with my mind and made me change my opinion about some characters.

Because of the slow pace it takes some time for the book to really pick up, and it happens when Jane discovers that someone died in the house before, and it also takes time for Emma to start to feel afraid. However, even with it taking time, for me it was engaging, interesting and unusual read. The way the story developed was very masterfully and skilfully plotted and organized and I absolutely admired this feeling of dread that the author smuggled onto the pages.

This is a story about secrets, lies and appearances that can often be deceiving. It is one huge rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs and there was something very special in it and I didn’t want to put it down. It is an engrossing mystery, even if the characters are not too likeable – but they don’t have to be in this kind of story. It is good enough that they are multi – layered, they are very complex and I think that no matter what, we never know if they’re telling the truth or if they’re hiding something. It was a thought – provoking, addictive and a clever read, multi – layered with many surprises and I highly recommend “The Girl Before” to you.

GUEST POST

On applying to live at One Folgate Street:

The Girl Before is a book about a house, One Folgate Street. I’ve always loved books with houses at their core, from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca to Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. This particular house is unusual because it’s been built by a minimalist architect, and in order to rent it you have to sign up to over 200 rules – everything from ‘no curtains’ to ‘no pets’ – and complete a questionnaire designed to test your suitability.

The first question in the application is ‘Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life’, which may be fair enough for a minimalist house.But as the questions go on they get more and more unusual and penetrating – things like: “Would you sacrifice yourself to save ten innocent strangers?’ and ‘What about a thousand innocent strangers?’

Many of the questions are drawn from clinical tools designed to measure things like obsessive perfectionism and moral relativism. You can take the questionnaire yourself, and see how your answers compare with other readers’ – go to

http://www.thegirlbeforebook.com/

and click on ‘Continue Application’ (you’ll need to enter an email address.)

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Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

 

36048240Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 25th January 2018

Series: Me Before You #3

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 496

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets–not all her own–that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

Rating: five-stars

I absolutely loved “Me Before You” and “After You”, I didn’t have any problems with the second books like many others seem to have, and I was incredibly excited that Jojo Moyes is bringing Louisa back to us in a book number 3. I think that it’s the same with Louisa Clark as with Becky Bloomwood – haters will hate, lovers will love. I personally belong to the latest category and Jojo Moyes could write another three or more books about Lou and I would inhale them – I love Lou, and after finishing “Still Me” there is potential for another book for me there. And reading about Ms Clark is already like meeting an old friend – a brilliant feeling.
I’ve read this book few weeks ago so theoretically I could have posted my review then but it took me till today to really write it because I was scared – that I won’t do this book a justice with my words. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t but one thing is certain, guys – it was a gorgeous, perfect read and for me personally there is really a room left for another Lou’s story.

This time Louisa embarks on a new journey to New York, where she’s supposed to work as an assistant to a very rich and very influential family. Before she’s even unpacked, she finds herself jogging through Central Park, shopping for her employer and attending social events. To say that it is a totally different life style to the one she knows from England would be an understatement. Then she gets to know Josh Ryan, who looks exactly like… well, you can guess who, and their friendship grows. Is it going to jeopardize her relationship with Sam? Is Sam going to accept the changes in Lou?

Already the first chapter had me hooked – meeting Louisa at the airport was a brilliant experience and made me laugh so much! Be prepared to see her taking New York by storm, guys. She felt like the old Louisa, but also she seemed like a new one, with her new approach with her year of saying yes, taking Will’s words and lessons to heart. I loved seeing her meeting new characters – they were all larger than life, more or less likeable, real people made of flesh and blood. They were full of flaws and faults but that made them closer to life and more real.
Lou is still Lou, lovable and quirky, and she has this ability to see things with a pinch of salt, and she also doesn’t take herself seriously. She tries to balance her personal life with her new job, which of course is not so easy, as she’s on the other side of the world. It’s almost a shock for her to find herself in the company of the Gopniks, this influential family, and her life is now so very different to the one she has left behind in England. I loved the fact that Louisa was so normal, she has made mistakes and sometimes you could question her choices, but I think this makes her even more real and relatable.

What I also adored was discovering New York together with Louisa. You could think, with so many books set in The Big Apple, what could be so exciting and fresh, but Jojo Moyes had done here an incredible job. Seeing this city through Lou’s fresh eyes was like seeing it by myself for the first time. The descriptions of the city deserve a standing ovation, it was brought to life so easily, they were vivid and full of colours and flavours.

The hidden motto of this story are Will’s words “You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live as fully as possible” – they are beautiful, pure words and I probably should have them tattooed on my forehead to finally start appreciate life just like Lou’s has done in this book. Because for me she did this – she’s come out of her comfort zones, she was taking chances and put all her eggs in one basket. Sometimes it paid off for her to be her own person, sometimes it didn’t but she didn’t give up and this is why wanted to hug her so much and tell her she’s doing so well.

I love Jojo Moyes’s writing style. It flows so easily and effortlessly, it’s chatty. It is witty, with a great dose of super humour, it’s elegant and incredibly engaging. It has immediately drawn me in and I felt like a part of the characters’ world, and I loved them like my own friends. From the word go I wanted to know what’s going to happen, I was intrigued with the Gopnik family, I wanted to know more about Agnes and see the developing relationship between Lou and Dean Martin. This is not a romance but it introduces us to so many shades of love – unconditional, honest love and what we’re capable of doing to preserve this love.

“Still Me” is a story of misunderstandings, lies, secrets, new and old friendships, broken hearts, forgiveness. It’s a real roller – coaster ride full of laughs, tears, frustrations and determination, disappointment and hope. For me this was a firm five – stars read and I would give it ten if I could – for me Jojo Moyes has done it again – written a beautiful, emotional, comforting story about brilliant characters. A story that shows that life goes on. That we don’t have to forget to live and be happy, we can live with happy and fond memories. That moving on is painful and can hurt but in the end it is worth it. That we have choices and that we can’t give up because the remedy or help can come in the most unexpected moment. It’s full of charm and kindness, but this is also Louisa’s way. She is not perfect, our Lou, but she’s relatable in the way she acts. She’s genuine, as well as the other characters in the story.

So let’s live boldly, people.

The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

 

35890882Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 11th January 2018

Series: The Island of Mure #2

Source:  Received in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 412

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Dreams start here…

‘Charming, made me long to escape to Mure. Total joy.’ – Sophie Kinsella

On the quayside next to the Endless Beach sits the Summer Seaside Kitchen. It’s a haven for tourists and locals alike, who all come to eat the freshest local produce on the island and catch up with the gossip. Flora, who runs the cafe, feels safe and content – unless she thinks too hard about her relationship with Joel, her gorgeous but emotionally (and physically) distant boyfriend.

While Flora is in turmoil about her relationship. her best friend Lorna is pining after the local doctor. Saif came to the island as a refugee, having lost all of his family. But he’s about to get some shocking news which will change everything for him.

As cold winter nights shift to long summer days, can Flora find her happy-ever-after with Joel?

Rating: five-stars

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Lately Jenny Colgan was proving with her every new release what a brilliant author she is, and each of her book was better than the previous one. However, with “The Endless Beach”, she has probably outdone herself – this book is perfect in every way. I would go that far and say that it’s probably Jenny Colgan’s best yet. This book has fulfilled all of my expectations and more. It is heart – warming, uplifting, emotional and incredibly realistic, and written in this brilliant and unmatchable Jenny Colgan’s writing style.
This is a sequel to “The Summer Seaside Kitchen” that can be read as a standalone, but I personally would recommend to read the first book as well – even though there is a reminder in the letter from Jenny at the beginning of “The Endless Beach”, which is very helpful btw, the first book was equally gorgeous and I think it will let you to understand the characters and their actions much better.

In “The Endless Beach” we’re back to the island of Mure and the characters that I already love plus some of the new ones, that are equally adoring. Flora’s storyline was supposed to be the main one, and well, yes it was, but she shared the book pages equally with the other characters, whose stories and backgrounds and present were as intriguing and hooking as hers. To be honest, I have a feeling that this time the male characters’ subplots were more prominent in this story, which only made it feel refreshing and even more interesting (as if it were possible!). This time it were the men that were hiding something, not the women! The story of Saif was heart – breaking. It was very actual and even though I may think it is a topic that doesn’t necessarily belong in fiction, I could give the author a standing ovation for writing it this way and for finding the courage to make one of her lead character a refugee. It was brilliant to see that the islanders – of course, after initial reservations – accepted him with open arms and what they did later when he brought someone to the island was absolutely gorgeous. His story was such an eye – opener, too, and I fell for him immediately, and I could cry when reading about his past. It was great to be back with Fintan, who can finally be himself and I loved his relationship with Colton, how much in love they were with each other, how they were around each other. There was of course a secret involved and even though I might have started to suspect something, the reveal has totally took me by surprise, took my breath away and made my cry because it was written in such a beautiful, sweet, gentle way, and you could feel through the pages the love and desperation there. Joel… I really don’t know how it is possible to write such raw emotions, I think Jenny Colgan has just got into his head.
The author didn’t forget about our girls, of course. Flora and Lorna’s feelings and emotions are true to life. It was brilliant to see what’s happening in their lives after we have left them behind, closing “The Summer Seaside Kitchen”. I must admit, I have expected that Flora’s life and her relationship with Joel would be plain sailing but it turned out it is far from this. They had their ups and downs and there were some moments that I got a headache as it seemed they just can’t communicate with each other in a normal way. I so wanted to bang their heads together because I so wanted this relationship to work and it just seemed that they rub each other up the wrong way, they’re getting hot and cold with each other all the time. This relationship was so genuine and so raw, they both felt so vulnerable in it because they loved so much but didn’t know how to show this, and it made me feel so, so desperate! Flora has such a big heart, and not only when it comes to be generous when running her own business, no, she’s just a wonderful, good natured person. There is so much passion in her in all aspects of her life, she doesn’t do things halfway through and I just kept everything crossed for her and for Joel. He was distant and sometimes I wanted to shake him but I also knew that there is a reason to his behaviour, and even though we don’t know till almost the end what it is, there was something in Joel that made you fell for him immediately and to understand him without knowing more.
But one of the best characters must be AGOT, and when you read the book you’ll know why I write her in capitals.

The way the story went and the many subplots took me by surprise, I must admit, I think I have expected something different. Not sure what but whatever it was, this story just tug at my heart strings, it was full of emotions and feelings. There was this magic that you always look for in the book that you read, there were brilliant storylines and characters that you could die for, as they so got under your skin. This writing was just one and only. It was beautiful, it enveloped you and you just didn’t want to put this book down.

The setting in this story couldn’t be more perfect! I fell in love with the wild island of Mure when reading the first book, and this story only reinforced me in this feeling. I think I would feel completely contended there. There was a brilliant community feeling that was especially visible at one of the weddings when the author so beautifully put it into words that it is the most important thing for the islanders and even though they’re not officially invited, they are invited, they can come and feel at home, and it was brilliant. The author lets us know the ins and outs of the little school run by Lorna, the island living and its villagers, when they know your comes and goes better than you yourself but they only mean well.

“The Endless Beach” was a real escapism and it is really so hard to put into words how great this book was. There was everything I was looking for from Jenny Colgan and even more. It was full of laugh out loud moments, as well as many poignant ones, it was full of heart and understanding and with incredible depth. It made me hold my breath and then start to hope again. There was the lovely mention of the mystery of myth, that I simply adored, there was this close knit community, it brought to us some new and fresh perspectives of characters that usually are not introduced in such stories. I really didn’t want this book to come to an end and if you haven’t read this enchanting story yet, drop everything and treat yourself – but be warned that you’re going to disappear for a few hours, as it’s just unputdownable.

Prosecco Christmas by Sylvia Ashby / #BlogTour + #Giveaway

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Prosecco Christmas by Sylvia Ashby

 

36574959Publisher:

Publishing Date: 2nd November 2017

Series: Pot Love #3

Source:  Received in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 274

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Family is where life begins.
And what better time to spend with your family than Christmas week?

Ashley and Giacomo go to Upper Swainswick, a postcard village ten minutes’ drive from Bath, to stay with Ashley’s mum and stepdad. It’s their last visit before the arrival of their first child.

But babies have a habit of being unpredictable.

So when Ashley goes into labour on Christmas Eve, three weeks ahead of schedule, it takes everyone by surprise.
She’s not ready! Her perfect Birth Plan is packed away in her hospital bag two hundred miles away, she has no going home outfit, and she has a live event planned for New Year’s Eve for her YouTube channel, The Sinking Chef. People have been signing up for it for weeks. She can’t possibly disappoint them on the last day of the year. What is she to do?

The tinsel gets even more tangled when Giacomo’s parents decide to fly from Italy to meet their first grandchild. Hotels are fully booked, so everyone has to stay under the same roof.

Would eleven people in the house, not counting the baby, turn out to be simply too much for Ashley?

Rating: three-stars

“Prosecco Christmas” is the third book in the Pot Love series however it was promised that you can read it a stand – alone. And that’s true guys, you can. The author has done a great job here, adding the absolutely necessary short scene here or there, description, memory to bring us all, fresh readers, what has happened in the past. I personally felt all the time as if I just stayed on the ball, I didn’t have a feeling that I’m missing on something.

Our main characters, Ashley and Giacomo, are expecting their first child, and they are very prepared – the hospital bag, the birth plan, chosen hospital, such things, you know. But well, life is full of surprises and when you have everything planned as nice as those two, you can be sure that the plans are going to go thwart. Ashley ends up in labour shortly before Christmas, when they are visiting her mother, without all of the above mentioned things. So there. Moreover, Giacomo’s family decide they have to see the new baby asap and so father, mother and aunt arrive from Italy, and then there is the very brief visit from brother and his fiancé.

Even though it is a story centred around Christmas, and it is full of Christmas spirit and all the mayhem you can expect, with so many people at home, visitor after visitor, new friends, Christmas recipes and cooking, I read it with pleasure few days ago, happy that the festive season is over for now. I could also easily imagine it was just a family gathering because Christmas didn’t overshadow anything.

There were moments that some of the scenes just dragged on incredibly and for example I gave up hope that Ashley is going to have this baby any time soon. However, kudos to the author for getting the whole having baby and becoming a parent thing so, so well, without any fluffiness and being on cloud nine. There was pain, raw emotions, sleepless nights, and yes, Ashley, I know what you felt when trying to have a bath when alone at home! But there is also the sheer joy of having a baby, and it was brilliant.

But guys. As much as the book was entertaining, light – hearted and easy to read, till now I am wondering: why and what – I really am not sure what I feel about it and to what end it was written. It was a nice story but it just felt as if it didn’t have neither a beginning nor an end. Don’t get me wrong, pretty please, I liked this book. It was funny, it had a dry wit and there were some surprises but it’s not a story that will stay with me for long. Some of the characters and the actions came over as too cartoony, too far fetched – maybe it was intended, I don’t know but it didn’t work for me. However it is probably the case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, as the story is full of hilarious moments and some of them are really epic, so just give this book a go – you may fall head over heels in love with it!

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Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

 

35150981Publisher: The Borough Press

Publishing Date: 11th January 2018

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

There are three things you should know about Elsie.
The first thing is that she’s my best friend.
The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better.
And the third thing… might take a little bit more explaining.

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, Florence wonders if a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light; and, if the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly a man who died sixty years ago?

From the author of THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP, this book will teach you many things, but here are three of them:
1) The fine threads of humanity will connect us all forever.
2) There is so very much more to anyone than the worst thing they have ever done.
3) Even the smallest life can leave the loudest echo.

Rating: five-stars

In this story – that is going to break your heart, btw – our main character Elsie is a 84 years old who lives at Cherry Tree (beautiful name, even though there are no cherry tries there), a sheltered accommodation. She spends her days with her friends Elsie, whom she knows for many, many years, and Jack. Florence is lovely and you just can’t help but fell in love with her a little. There is still spirit to her and she’s not an easiest resident of the home, she requires answers to her questions and is not easily satisfied. She just wants to live – I loved her no – nonsense approach. When a new resident arrives, Gabriel Price, she starts to believe she knows him but under a different name – is she right, and is in danger now? Or did she forget? Together with Florence, Elsie and Jack we set out on an incredible journey of looking for the truth, journey full of secrets, lies, abuse and mysteries, but also full of antics the three get up to.

“Three Things About Elsie” is a very special story about some very special characters that will stay in your heart for long. I actually immediately fell in love with Florence and Elsie, it was so easy to imagine them both sitting at the window and gossiping about all the other residents. They were jumping out of the pages of this book and they felt so true to life. Also, the background characters, such as Miss Ambrose or Handy Simon were incredibly well developed and had their own voices and stories that were so very touching, and really, they made the story feel more whole – I really hope you know what I mean here. So we don’t only get Florence’s point of view but also we get to know her life through other characters’ eyes. Elsie’s character is also incredibly likeable. She’s Florence’s best friend and it is Elsie who knows how Florence ticks best and how to make her feel better. Her words are the most memorable to Florence and she always asks what Elsie would do or say. It is Elsie who helps her, who finds all the positive things and who helps her to navigate through the minefield of losing memory. Their friendship was so beautiful and pure.

This story offered some curves that I really didn’t expect. I was reading a lovely, touching story about Florence, Elsie and Jack and then the author has thrown some so unexpected twists and the story went in totally different direction to the one I was expecting – which is just brilliant, I love to be surprised – and in the end it turned out to be a little of mystery, a little of memories, with very realistic characters. I also never could say what is real, is Florence right or is it really her dementia speaking, and the final reveals just took my breath away.

Joanna Cannon is a very, very talented author. I haven’t read her debut novel yet, it is still on my kindle, but her turns of phrases, the way she constructs the dialogues, the vividness of descriptions, the bringing the characters to life and the complex storyline speak for themselves. This book, “Three Things About Elsie”, is this kind of a story that is getting better with every page turned and it leaves you thinking and reflecting on what you’ve just read. It is a funny and sad, sentimental and it just tugs at the heart – strings. The author writes in such a gentle way, her words are full of sympathy, heart and understanding. They make us laugh and cry and think and reflect. And I can’t not mention it but the cover of the book is absolutely gorgeous, and it is also the perfect reflection of the story – you’ll see for yourself when you read the book.

Joanna Cannon explores friendship in her book, people that we hold dear, and indicates how important they are to us, and how important it is to not to lose our trust. Altogether, it was a beautiful, sensitive book, full of many poignant moments. And I didn’t guess the third thing about Elsie. It took me totally by surprise and made me cry like a crocodile. Highly, highly recommended!

The Single Girl’s Calendar by Erin Green / #BlogTour

The Single Girl’s Calendar by Erin Green

 

36270899Publisher: Aria

Publishing Date: 1st January 2018

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 580

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A task a day to cure a broken heart.

Esmé Peel is approaching thirty with some trepidation, but hope in her heart. If she can just get her long-term boyfriend Andrew to propose, she will have ticked everything off her ‘things to do by the time you’re 30’ list. She didn’t reckon on finding another woman’s earring in her bed however, and soon she finds herself single, homeless and in need of a new plan. Her best friend Carys gives her the perfect present – The Single Girl’s Calendar – which has a different cure for heartbreak every day:

Day 1: Look and feel fabulous with a new hair style.

Day 2: Step out of your comfort zone and try something new.

Day 3: Reconnect with friends and enjoy!

Despite thinking it’s a bit of a gimmick, Esmé hasn’t got any better ideas, so she puts the plan into action. By the end of week one she has four new male housemates, and despite a broken heart she is determined to show Andrew she can do more than survive, she can thrive.

Rating: three-stars

 

 

“The Single Girl’s Calendar” is my first book by Erin Green and after reading synopsis I just knew that I want to read this novel. It turned out to be a light – hearted, funny and sometimes poignant book, and I really liked the concept of the Single Girl’s Calendar – I was really intrigued what challenges it’s going to bring, what tasks are there, awaiting Esme and her new single status.

The book introduced us to many characters. There is Esme, her ex – boyfriend, brother and parents, two work friends, four male housemates, an elderly neighbour from next door… It took me some time to eventually start to differentiate the boys, to be honest, and I could have lived without the neighbour subplot, to be honest. The boys, well, they were a solid part of the book but I’ve never felt connected to them, even though they became such a great part of Esme’s life. Her brother Kane, I’m not sure what it was that he did and why did he spent so much time at the flat? He was mostly unpleasant and rude and well, lazy. Jonah was awfully narcissistic, focused on himself and that was all. Russ… well, I can’t say much about Russ, I’m sorry, as well as about Dam who was mostly absent, at his parents. The most interesting and developed character was probably Asa, he was full of secrets and surprises, and he always said things as they were, and I think you need to get used to him because he can also come across as a very, very rude and not direct.

 I had a problem with Esme. A huge one. I liked her, don’t get me wrong, but there were things that annoyed me so much in her. She acted as she was the centre of the world, as if everything revolved around her. She wanted to know everything and decide about everything. She jumped to conclusions and generally didn’t apologize for this. Almost in every single chapter she was happy to talk about herself with other characters and it was gladly reported that it usually took a lot of time – she was obsessed with herself, guys. However, there were also great sides to her. I absolutely loved how she ended her relationship and how consequent she was. I also liked her new friendship with the older neighbour and how well she looked after her. But mostly, unfortunately, I agreed with Asa’s assessment for her character – she did what other people thought was best for her, she seemed not to be capable of deciding for herself half of the time.

Each of the characters living with Esme seems to have a secret that Esme shouldn’t hear. Why? Oh boy, why? It was really annoying, I guessed all of them but it took Esme a lot of time to discover, because of course she was desperate to know everything. Typical Esme. Nothing about the other without her, even though it was not her business. The book started to feel repetitive, when Esme started to recount to the other characters about everything that happened to her. It started to drag on and I found myself losing my interest a little. The ending seemed much too rushed for my liking and it left me a little confused for a long time, to be honest. I felt a little disappointed with Esme’s decisions, and I didn’t understand it, it left me feeling the calendar, the tasks taught her nothing.

This book had me torn; flip – flopping guys, even though I can’t exactly tell you what it was that bothered me so much. There was just something missing. It was as if the author wanted to put so much into her story and ultimately we got a little of everything but on the whole there were missing elements, missing x- factor. I liked it, don’t get me wrong, it was entertaining and it had some really good moments but it just didn’t wow me as much as I thought at the beginning it’s going to. Because it started really good and then it slowed down and went a little downhill. But altogether, “The Single Girl’s Calendar” was a charming, nice read, a great book to unwind with. It was about showing that if things don’t end up going to plan then well, just start living differently and perhaps make a new plan or let life surprise you? It was nice, easy and relaxing. There were some unexpected turns and some deeper moments in the story as well. and I am looking towards reading more from Erin Green.

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On a Beautiful Day by Lucy Diamond / #BlogTour

Hi guys, hope you all have a great Saturday! I am absolutely thrilled today to welcome you to my stop on Lucy Diamond’s blog tour for her newest release “On a Beautiful Day”. It’s not a secret that I’m Lucy’s huge fan and I adore her reletable, believable stories – they’re so easy to get into and to get lost into them, and it’s the same with this book – I’m sure you are also going to love it!

On a Beautiful Day by Lucy Diamond

 

36517591Publisher: Macmillan

Publishing Date: 11th January 2018

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 496

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

It’s a beautiful day in Manchester and four friends are meeting for a birthday lunch. But then they witness a shocking accident just metres away which acts as a catalyst for each of them.

For Laura, it’s a wake-up call to heed the ticking of her biological clock. Sensible Jo finds herself throwing caution to the wind in a new relationship. Eve, who has been trying to ignore the worrying lump in her breast, feels helpless and out of control. And happy-go-lucky India is drawn to one of the victims of the accident, causing long-buried secrets to rise to the surface.

This is a novel about the startling and unexpected turns life can take. It’s about luck – good and bad – and about finding bravery and resilience when your world is in turmoil. Above all, it’s about friendship, togetherness and hope.

Rating: five-stars

 

Yes, guys. I love stories about friends and I love Lucy Diamond’s novels, so what could be better than a brand new Lucy Diamond book about four friends? Exactly! Lucy’s novels are always so comforting, they are easy reads that make you laugh and cry and they are always a winner, you can be sure that Ms Diamond is going to deliver a book that’ll fulfil all of your expectations. And it’s the same with “On a Beautiful Day”, just grab the book, your favourite blanket and a mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream and put a “Do Not Disturb” on your door.

 So the story follows four friends, Eve, India, Jo and Laura and let me tell this right now how much I enjoyed this friendship – it was pure and genuine, there weren’t any indiscretions  between the women, they didn’t conspired against each other like it often happens in books with such subject matter, no, it was a great, real friendship, with some secrets, of course, but when you read you’ll quickly learn why some of the girls choose to keep the things secret, what was their keynote, and you’ll going to understand them and fell for them immediately. On a beautiful day, when they meet to celebrate birthday of one of them, they witness a very horrific accident, where a car barely misses them and crashes in a shop nearby, leaving several people injured and dead. This accident makes them think and yes, it’s going to change their lives significantly.

I can’t say that I had my favourite character because they were all just awesome, normal, real women, with everyday problems, so unique and their friendship was great. They had their own lives and troubles, their own stories, however the moments in the book when they were together worked so very well.

Eve has been ignoring a lump in her breast. She’s scared to go to the doctor in case they’re going to confirm her fears. Help comes in the most unexpected way. I wasn’t so sure why Eve didn’t want to open to her husband, to be honest, I understand she wanted to be strong and independent, she never wanted help from anybody but there are moments in our lives when we just should share our problems with the closest ones.

Laura desperately wants a baby, however how is it going to happen when, after years of trying and disappointment, her husband has just left her? I think Laura’s story, of course as important and touching as the other three, was not as well developed and I felt the weakest connection with her. But of course I kept everything crossed for her, I fell for her as well and the end of her story surprised me very much, but also made me happy for her.

Her sister Jo, who’s just started a new relationship, has a very different problem, as the new boyfriends brings his teenage daughter with and she can’t quite bond with the girl. I so wasn’t sure about the new relationship, the quick move, I was really scared and afraid that she’s going to be hurt again, but following the motto “no risk, no fun” Jo dived pretty deep. She just wants to feel happy again. There were moments that I wouldn’t stand Rick’s daughter, but she was patient and determined to make the things run smoothly between them and I really admired her for this.

And India, who’s running mother and baby music classes, even though she had great ambitions before, she wanted to go to music college and was short of doing this, well, is she going to reveal the secret from her past that’s so haunting her? Is it this secret that makes her question everything, not being sure if she’s happy with her life, her children, her husband? Is the chance encounter going to answer all her questions and doubts or rather bring even more problems?

All the stories are beautifully written, and, typical for Lucy Diamond, with tons of gentleness, understanding and subtlety. They are all down to earth and very authentic, telling us about the effects they have on each of the characters and their closest ones.

 Lucy Diamond creates her characters in a way that make you feel as if you’ve known them for ages. You can’t help but fell in love with them, cheer them on and keep everything crossed for them. I was immediately hooked and warmed to all of the women from the word go. What is also so significant is that we can really easily identify with them all because Lucy Diamond makes them realistic and down to earth, and their problems as well.

There are many lighter and humorous situations in the story, as well as many emotional ones, and the book really tugs at the heart – strings. With four main characters there is a lot happening, so it’s fast paced and while I wouldn’t say that it’s full of twists or turns, there are for sure some surprises on the way and I wouldn’t call the story predictable – oh no! Forget about the wishy – washy stories and repeating plots, “On a Beautiful Day” is close to life, realistic and relatable book with complex and well developed characters.

Lucy Diamond’s writing is, as always, full of sensitivity, she writes beautifully and descriptive, but with a great dose of humour and there is a lot of understanding in her writing. The characters must face plenty of problems, their lives are not beds of roses and life can be challenging for them but the story is not sad but it will make you think about your own life and to re – consider some things, that’s for sure.

 It was a gorgeous story about appreciating your life, about facing the challenges on your way, about having the courage. This is a book about second chances and about trust, touching upon so many different and important issues like fertility, health concerns, (patchwork) families, relationships and friendship. I absolutely adored the fact that it was so compelling, clever and so challenging, with a complex plot and I enjoyed every single minute of it. Lucy Diamond’s book are guaranteed to provide you with all you need: laughter, tears, all kinds of emotions, suspense, and it’s not different with “On a Beautiful Day”, but the book is on no account too heavy or too overwhelming. It makes you think, so this is really my favourite kind of read, as it obliges to look under the surface. Highly recommended!

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The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor / #BlogTour

Guys. I have another blog tour stop for you today. Have you heard about “The Chalk Man” yet? I’m sure you have. This is one of the most amazing and unpredictable books I have ever read and I am incredibly excited to be sharing my thoughts on this novel with you today. BTW, it was published yesterday, so whatever you do, drop it and make sure you’ve ordered it!

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

 

36355177Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 11th January 2018

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for each other as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing will ever be the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out his other friends got the same messages, they think it could be a prank… until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

Rating: five-stars

So guys,  “The Chalk Man”. One of the most talked about books right now, I am sure you’ve heard about it, it’s impossible to miss all the buzz. But you know what? There are books that are being incredibly advertised and after reading them you’re left thinking “and that was it?”. With “The Chalk Man” it’s not going to happen. No way. Nada. Because this book is going to blow your mind and you won’t be able to put it down. Have my word.

 The first thing that not only took me immediately by surprise but also shocked me a little was the opening – a gruesome discovery in the woods, and right then the scene at the fair. To say it started with a kick would be an understatement, guys. And so the story continued, full of scenes out of this world, and me, sitting there intrigued and my jaw dropping, thinking nothing more intriguing won’t come and being totally wrong. What a bloody brilliant story!

I still can’t believe that it’s C.J. Tudor’s debut novel because the writing style was amazingly good. It was easy to follow and there was not a single moment that I felt confused, even with this complex storyline, it was very descriptive – yes, guys, all the gory details are there, the almost chopped – off  leg, the severed heads and a lot of blood – and while there were moments that I wanted to close my eyes to stop seeing those things, it also somehow worked for me, and I loved this chatty, easy writing style.

There was really much going on, alternating between 1986 and 2016, but in the end everything comes neatly together. The author has a way with describing her characters – she gets into their heads and as a result they don’t have any secrets from us, they were really vivid and alive. Ed was laid – back, scruffy 40 – something, living in a house he grew up in, a teacher, with neither girlfriend, nor wife, nor children. He smoked like a dragon and drank much too much and yes, I know, he may sound not too promising, but Ed was really okay. He seemed so uncomplicated, so straightforward and, in a way, honest and naive, and he was the same 30 years ago – because the story is splitting between past and present. Ed, and all the other characters, his little group of friends, his family, Mr Halloran were exceptionally interesting and with very well developed personalities and well, I personally was hooked when reading about them. They were not straightforward, there was some kind of secrecy around them all and I always had a feeling I’m one step behind them, that I know everything about them but also nothing because in the next moment they were going to say or do something that would totally change my mind or open my eyes.

 The setting was very suitable, the town of Anderbury full of some nasty characters, full of secrets, lies and hypocrisy, violence and bullying. The atmosphere was so dark and this darkness and uncertainty was palpable through the pages. There was just this feeling of authenticity in this book.

I really didn’t know where the story is going to take me or what to expect from it, but that’s okay and it was really great for once to just let the book to take me on a real journey. It was full of questions and what ifs, full of coincidence and hazards. It dealt with many heavy issues, such as dementia or bullying for example. It was totally unpredictable and it kept you guessing all the time because it was so twisty and turny. While we can expect that the story is going to focus on the one thing, on the chalk man, there is much, much more to it and the reveals go on all the way through this novel – amazing! It was complex, it was clever, it was full not only of drama but also of a dark humour and it was really worth all of the buzz, guys. It was unique, a read with a difference, really something that I haven’t read before, and I read really many books. “The Chalk Man” was a multi – layered thriller, full of suspense and elements of mystery that took its time to unravel all the secrets and I can’t recommend it highly enough – no matter if it’s the genre you like or not, give this sharp – observed novel a try, I’m sure you’re going to be totally hooked!

PS. And have you noticed the cover? It’s gawesome!

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