January 2023 Monthly Round-up and Reading Challenges

Hello, I’m going to attempt to check in every month even if I’m the only person who reads the post. This year is off to a smashing start in the reading department.

I have chosen to keep my challenges to ones I know I can achieve, well, I hope so anyway.


As usual, I am doing the Goodreads Reader Challenge and I am already charging ahead so I will probably need to increase my goal by June.

I have already read some really great books and I think it’s my highest 4.5- star or 5-star reads ever in a month.

9/34 of these were audiobooks.


I’m also going to attempt the Aussie Readers A-Z Title Challenge on Goodreads and have picked all my books (subject to change) except for my Q book, so I’m open to suggestions for a book to read for Q. I’ve managed to read 6/26 so far this year.


I am going to attempt to read a minimum of 12 of my Backlist Review Books #Backlistreads2023, so far I have read two, but I’ve only written the post for one of them the second will be up soon.

All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard


I’m also going to do the #HQReadingChallenge as it’s only got 12 boxes to mark off. You’ll find this on Instagram @harlequinaus

I have marked off

YA book – 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons

A book published this year – The Husband Hoax by Saxon James

An Australian author – Penelope Janu

Title begins with the first letter of your name – Can’t Say Goodbye by Eden Finley

Fantasy or sci-fi – January Blues by Jax Stuart

So, as you can see I’m nearly halfway there with this one, my hardest will be A genre I’ve never read before because I think I’ve read most genres so I’ll have to do some investigating.


And last but not least I will try, for at least the third time to do the 2023 Nonfiction Reader Challenge hosted by Book’d Out #ReadNonFicChal.

Every year I sign up to do the Nonfiction Nipper but only manage to read 2/3 which is pretty ridiculous going. So, this year I will aim to read all 3 books.

Choose a goal:

Nonfiction Nipper: Read & review 3 books, from any 3 listed categories

Nonfiction Nibbler: Read & review 6 books, from any 6 listed categories

Nonfiction Nosher: Read & review 12 books, one for each category

Nonfiction Grazer: Read & review any nonfiction book. Set your own goal

Categories:

History
Memoir/Biography
Crime & Punishment
Science
Health
Travel
Food
Social Media
Sport
Relationships
The Arts
Published in 2023


On the personal front, I don’t have much going on, I started back at my art lessons after just over 3 months break and managed to finish the painting I started last year. So that feels good to be creating again and I’m ready to start a new painting next week.

Well, that’s me for this month I will check in again at the end of February, happy reading.

Blog Tour, Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: Pier Pressure By Anyta Sunday


Review

I really enjoyed this, it was just the kind of light fun read I didn’t know I needed.

I did worry when in the first few pages Leon’s a**hole partner breaks up with him and is just awful, this scene caused me a bit of anxiety for what I might expect for the rest of the book. Luckily, this scene didn’t set the tone of the rest of the story, instead, it is full of fun and heart when Damon, a guy he had a fling with years before finds himself drawn into the out-there situations Leon keeps pulling him into in his goal to find love.

Leon was sweet, if not oblivious to the signals Damon was giving him, he also did everything he could to avoid conflict, hence how he found himself in the out-there situations. Damon may have messed up in the past, but when faced with the opportunity of getting a second chance with Leon, he grabs it with both hands, it doesn’t stop him from being cheeky with Leon, but he is also supportive and sweet towards him too. Leon and Damon were so good for each other, I wondered how long it would take Leon to realise what was in front of his eyes.

This was an entertaining read which left me with the feel-goods at the end.


Plenty of fish in the sea.

But what if there is no “plenty”? What if Leon Finn is a lone fish? A lone fish in a glass bowl swimming in hopeful but ultimately lonely circles forever?

Dumped and forced to retreat to his tiny-town seaside bach, it’s time for Leon to cast some lines, and quick! Prove to everyone—(*cough*) ex, mother, other ex who he’s now accidentally living with—that he’s a catch.

Only no one is biting.

It sucks, but it’s solvable.

With his trusty sewing machine and endless stash of fabric he’ll make himself into the ultimate suitor. Stitch this right up.

But as a certain someone keeps whispering in his ear, is this the right way?

Pier Pressure is a light-hearted, cheeky M/M romance with silly seaside shenanigans culminating in happily ever after. It can be read as a standalone.

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Excerpt

I crouch and stare at it. “Hello.”

It wriggles its tail and swims away. A fish here means someone’s been coming regularly, to change the water and feed it. “Who’s looking after you, hmm?” My cousin Troy lives nearby, he’d be the type to buy a goldfish for his kid without asking his wife first. I can imagine him schlepping it here and regretting his stupidity every time he came by to keep it alive.

It’s stupid, but I’m ridiculously glad I’m not completely alone. Karl and I might not have had sex in six months, but he’d always shared my bed. I was used to someone being in the same room, in the same space, closest to the door. There was something comforting in it. Like, if we got murdered, they’d have to go through him first.

Wind howls around the bach, rattling the windows and whistling down the chimney. There’s the creak of a door on its hinges, and bloody hell. The bach never seemed this freaky in summer . . .

I raid my suitcase and yank on the kiddiest pyjamas I own, my fluffy ducky ones. Maybe if I look innocent enough, a murderer might think twice before offing me, giving me crucial time to—yep, that hearth shovel was coming to bed with me. And . . . and the fish. I couldn’t leave it all alone out here. The killer might . . .

Carefully, I lift the bowl, tuck it to my chest and take refuge in my room.”

I wake up to a shadow looming over me.

I scream and throw blankets into the darkened face. The shovel! Where is it? I plunge an arm down the side of my bed, between the mattress and the wall, and grope for the weapon. Nothing. And meanwhile I’m left in a frighteningly exposed, arse-up position. I forget the shovel and throw myself onto my back, hands balled at the ready.

Before me the figure is muttering something that gets lost under a thick layer of feather-down. A large hand with a vein running down the middle reaches around the duvet and with a whoosh, my cover is yanked off.

Instead of hauling arse out the window with Fishy, I’m asking the intruder to please at once remove himself from my bed chamber. Apparently, I turn into Darcy in panic—“Damon?”

Laughter. As heavy as the ocean, as warm as the dawn spilling into my room. “Well hello, Leon.”

Enter the Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Pier Pressure, Anyta is giving away a $15 Amazon Voucher!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!

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About the Author:

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A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favourite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, and Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.
My books have been translated into German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Thai.

Contact: http://www.anytasunday.com/about-anyta/

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New Release Book Review: Wonderland by Rachel Ember

Review

A second chance at love with your estranged best friend, man did Peter and Riley deserve that chance!

I really enjoy Rachel Ember’s writing and I’m so glad she has written a book in the Vino Veritas series. I really enjoyed Wonderland, everything about it made for an engaging read. I loved both Peter and Riley and was cheering them on from the get-go. As the reason for their estrangement slowly gets uncovered, I liked the way they were both able to communicate easier and forgive each other for what happened in the past. I enjoyed the chemistry and the friendship they shared.

Riley’s grandfather Gene is a character, and I enjoyed seeing the relationship between him and Riley rebuild itself and seeing Riley realise how much faith Gene was putting in him by allowing him to see how vulnerable he was and what a mess he had let his property and himself become and seeing Gene pull himself out of it with Riley and Peter’s help.

The setting of the broken-down amusement park was as much a character as the people and I enjoyed exploring it and seeing it come back to life.

I enjoyed seeing them both interact with some of the other Vino & Veritas characters I have come to know and love and I liked that they were all there to support Riley when he needed them.


About the Book:

I left Vermont on the most painful day of my life and swore I’d never go back. Meadows Park–the shuttered amusement park that’s been in my family for generations–is the home of all my finest and worst memories. They all star Peter Landry–the best friend I ever had, and the only guy I’ve ever loved. 

But then my eccentric grandfather buried two million dollars on the property and couldn’t remember where. 

So I’m back, and asking Peter for help. He’s an Ivy League lawyer now. Still gorgeous, and able to gut me with a single smile. And I’m still a disappointment, living in the city and washing dishes to get by. As soon as we strike off down the first sunlit path, the Meadows Park magic begins to fill my heart with yearning, lust, and most dangerous of all—dreams.

I’m secretly relieved each time the day ends, leaving us empty-handed. I know it’s wrong—without that money, we could lose the park.

But if I find the treasure, I lose the guy.


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Cover Design: Christine Coffey

New Release Book Review: Never Trust a Guy With Fangs by Mia Monroe

I always enjoy a Mia Monroe novel so I was excited when she said she was writing something different, something in the spec fiction genre, vampires and witches, demons and fae. I used to read a lot in this genre but have gone away from it over the years, I loved going back to it with Mia’s newest novel.

Never Trust a Guy With Fangs was such a good read, I actually read it twice as I didn’t write my review straight away and wanted to refresh my mind and ended up rereading the whole novel.

I love Leo who is a witch, he’s a little bit sassy, knows what he wants but has a vulnerability about him too. Augustus is the head vampire of his coven and is extremely likeable too, he’s lived a long time, seen a lot and experienced a lot of loss during his 2500 years.

The attraction between these two was hot, but fun too, Leo and his sassy ways made it fun, he just wouldn’t give up when Augustus said they couldn’t be together, for many reasons, the treaty between the witches and vampires being a big reason.

I enjoyed the side characters of Presley and Beto and look forward to their book because I’m sure just like Leo and Augustus they can’t fight their feelings for too long.

There’s a lot going on in this novel, an unknown demon is trying to destroy the magical beings who inhabit Eaton Falls, and I’m sure he won’t stop there. It’s the start of a war, truces and trusts between beings need to be forged if they are to stand a chance at winning. Secrets about the real reason vampires and witches hate each other are uncovered and Leo finds out plenty about himself he never knew. His relationship with Augustus will also change everything they both thought they knew.

I certainly wasn’t bored at all throughout this novel, I enjoyed every minute of it and loved the relationship between Leo and Augustus. I can’t wait to read the next book, luckily the wait isn’t too long.

Release Blitz: Country by Lila Rose


RELEASE BLITZ
Title: Country
Series: Diamond MC #1
Author: Lila Rose
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: February 15, 2022


REVIEW

It was so good to catch up with the guys from Diamond MC again, I first met them in the Polished P&P series and fell for them all. I loved getting to know Country (the President of Diamond MC) better and meeting Dusty the club girl who has caught his eye and made his heart catch feelings he wasn’t looking for.

While Dusty comes from a rich background, it was poor in family and emotional support, in being part of the Diamond MC she has found her real family, but she is hiding her feelings about Country believing he isn’t interested in her. meanwhile Country is hiding his feelings believing the same about Dusty.

There is plenty of drama that happens when another club girl decides Dusty isn’t wanted in the club, thieves break into the vet where Dusty works, her parents add extra drama into her life and Dusty’s life is put in danger.

Country doesn’t let anyone mess with his people and he pulls no punches in destroying anyone who has put Dusty in danger.

As well as drama and violence, there’s also humour and heart. I really enjoy Lila Rose’s writing and I’m looking forward to more of this series in the future.

 

BLURB
 
I had her and loved the taste of her.
But she’s too young, too sweet and good.
But I’ll keep her safe, and I want her happy.
Even if my own heart tells me I’m a fool for not making her mine.

Our one night is electric. She left her mark and burned her goodness into my heart.
There’s no room left for anyone else, only her.
I can’t chase her. I have to let her go.
Sure, she’s a club girl and I could have her under me whenever I want, but I can’t do that to her. I refuse to pull her any deeper into the Diamond MC.

When that decision is taken out of my hands and she’s dragged into the darkness, all I see is rage and bloodshed. 
I’ll make them pay. Every single one of them who thought they could steal her away, take her from me.

She’s everything.
And once I have her back, I’ll make sure I never let go.
She’s light and goodness. 
Maybe she’s too good for me, but maybe she’s just what I need to balance my world.
I’ll give her everything and make her mine.
And just maybe she’ll make me hers too.

Warning: this book contains violence, offensive language, and very mature topics. Recommended for age 18 years and up.

Note: Book #1 in the Diamond MC series, though these characters have been seen in the mm Polished P &P series, you don’t have to read them first to read Country.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "FEB15TH 5TH DIAMOND "What do you want, S Dusty? "P-Pardon?" "Tell me what you want, darlin'." I was going to take a leap blew out breath "I'd like to go to bed with you." ountry LILA ROSE"


EXCERPT
 
From the corner of the room, I watched as Country flirted with his new woman of the week, Rochelle. To me, it sounded like she was related to a roach. I hated her even before I met her. Pathetic, right? It wasn’t like I was in love with Country. We’d slept together a couple of times, one before and then after his breakup with a different girl. Isla. Both of us had been a little tipsy each time.
So why can’t you get him off your mind?
Shut up, stupid brain.
I didn’t know why my eyes sought him out whenever I entered the compound. Or why my belly clenched when I caught other club ladies flirting with him, or why my heart turned into a wildly buzzing vibrator whenever he smiled or winked at me. 
All right, I did know, but I wasn’t going to let my little crush stick. 
Not when I could save myself from hurt, since I knew, and I definitely knew, he was a player. He liked younger women, which I was, right along with a heap of other club girls. 
I could have pussy punched myself for joining as a club girl when I didn’t even need to. I didn’t have bad parents. I didn’t have someone to hide from or someone after me, as far as I knew. So why did I join? Because I wanted something different and exciting in my life, and when I’d first applied to become one of the club women in the Diamond MC where I wouldn’t sleep with anyone outside of the club they promised I wouldn’t have to have sex with every member. could pick. That was two years ago, when I was a lot more nervous and shy, and the only member I had slept with was Country. 

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AUTHOR BIO
 
Lila was born in Brisbane Australia, her step-dad was in the Army which caused them to move around a lot. They finally settled in country Victoria, Australia. Being the youngest of four children she admits she was spoilt a bit. Even drove her mum crazy when she refused to eat meat at a young age.

Now, Lila lives with her husband and two children.

She started writing in 2013 and self-published the first of the Hawks MC: Ballarat Charter series- Holding Out. Since then, she has published eleven other titles, which range from erotica, humorous romance, YA and paranormal. 
 
 
AUTHOR LINKS
 
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New Release Book Review: As the Tallgrass Grows by Rachel Ember

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Another great book in the Wild Ones series, I really enjoyed Johnny and Owen’s romance and I loved catching up with Dylan and Bo, now in their 70s and 50 years odd into their relationship and still totally in love, we get a chance to see how they have been travelling since we finished their story in book #3.

I really liked getting to know Johnny Robbie’s brother whose story we read in books #1 & #2 where we meet him fleetingly, so it was nice to finally get to know him and what he’d been through and what has led him to Dylan and Bo’s ranch beside the fact he is their long lost nephew. He has certainly been through a lot and I liked he was able to show his true self to Owen.

Owen is an honorary nephew of Dylan and Bo’s and though he is at first dismayed to find Johnny at the ranch, as he gets to know him, things develop and grow between them. I really enjoyed seeing them learn about each other and in turn learn about themselves and gain confidence in who they were and what they deserve. Owen’s parents certainly weren’t the sort of people I would wish on anyone.

There are plenty of emotional moments as Johnny, Owen, Dylan and Bo get to know each other and a few secrets to uncover that change some things and explain others for Johnny and Owen.

I personally would read this series in order, but you can jump in with this one, though I think you’ll get more from it if you read the others, you’ll want to read them after anyway.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a digital copy in return for an honest review.

Link to my reviews for Long Winter #1 & Burning Season #3

Blog Tour & Review: Roommate Arrangement by Saxon James

 

ROOMMATE ARRANGEMENT

Divorced Men’s Club – Book One

by Saxon James

Blog Tour

Release Date: January 12, 2022

Cover Design: Story Styling Cover Designs
Photo: Wander Aguiar Photography
Model: Chris Hayman
Genre: M/M Later-in-Life Romance
Trope: Roommates to lovers, brothers best friend, opposites attract, small town

Synopsis

Payne


In search of: room to rent.

Must ignore the patheticness of a forty-year-old roommate.

Preferably dirt cheap as funds are tight (nonexistent).


There’s nothing sadder than moving back to my hometown newly divorced, homeless, and lost for what my next move is.

When my little brother’s best friend offers me a place to stay in exchange for menial duties, I swallow my pride and jump at the offer.

I need this.

I also need Beau to wear a shirt. And ditch the gray sweatpants. And not leave his door ajar when he’s in compromising positions…



Beau


In search of: roommate.

Must be non smoker and non douchebag.

Room payment to be made in meal planning, repairs, and dumb jokes.


Since my career took off, I barely have time to breathe, let alone keep my life in order. I’m naturally chaotic, make terrible decisions, and scare off potential dates with my “weirdness”.

So when Payne gets back into town and needs somewhere to stay, I offer him my spare room with one condition: while he’s staying with me, I need him to help me become date-able.

And while he does that, I can focus on my other plan: ignoring that Payne is the only man I’ve ever wanted to date.

Review

The first in the Divorced Men’s Club series, I really liked Payne and Beau and really loved this feel-good, low angst story. Both of these characters are older than many of the romance novels out there, Beau in his late 30s and Payne who was 40, which I liked, it’s nice to see life goes on and you don’t have to be in your 20s to find true love.

Payne who has split with his husband and returned to his hometown to get over it, lacking a place to stay, ends up staying with Beau, his brother’s best friend who has had a crush on him since they were teens (Payne has no idea)

I really enjoyed the friendship and connection these two complete opposites formed and that was allowed to morph into much more without either realising what was happening. I liked the way they worked through things together and communicated, (something so many novels seem to avoid and something that drives me nuts) talking things through and working things out so that things didn’t implode between them. The chemistry between them was hot and they were so sweet with each other, that I finished the book with a happy feeling for this odd couple who worked so well together.


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About the Author

Saxon James unapologetically writes happy endings for LGBT+ characters.

While not writing, SM is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Member of SCBWI.




Cover Reveal: Wicked Heat by Ella Frank

Image preview
Wicked Heat, an all-new spicy mm romance, and the first book in the
Chicago Heat Series from USA Today bestselling author Ella Frank, is
coming February 7th and we have the incredible cover!


If you love grumpy heroes, smokin’ hot firefighters, opposites attract and all
the steam, don’t miss Wicked Heat!

Ryan
Kind, caring, and protective. Those are the three qualities I’m looking for when it comes
to my dream man. In a city as big as Chicago, you wouldn’t think he would be that hard
to find, right?
Wrong.
Sure, my boss found a super-sexy detective and my best friend fell madly in love with
the most eligible bachelor around. But the only person I’ve met recently is a broody bad
boy who saved me at a sketchy pub.
He’s grumpy, rude, and honestly, not that likeable at all. Hardly my “dream” guy.
So why can’t I stop thinking about him?


Jameson
I don’t do friendships. I don’t do relationships either. The very last thing I’m looking for in
life is to fall in love and live happily ever after.
So saving some rich guy from losing his wallet is the last thing I want to do on a Friday
night. Especially when he looks like someone who just stepped off the cover of GQ.
Fate seems to have other ideas, though, and every time I turn around, he’s there.
A wicked heat simmers between us, threatening to ignite, and though I’ve been trained
to put out the flames, I can’t help but think: What’s the worst that could happen if I let
this desire burn out of control?


Reserve your copy today, exclusively on Amazon!
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Add Wicked Heat to Goodreads

About Ella Frank
Ella Frank is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Temptation series, including Try,
Take, and Trust and is the co-author of the fan-favourite erotic serial, Sex Addict. Her
Exquisite series has been praised as “scorching hot!” and “enticingly sexy!”
A life-long fan of the romance genre, Ella writes contemporary and erotic fiction.
Some of her favourite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward,
Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Philips.
Connect with Ella
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Stay up to date with Ella by joining her mailing list
Website

New Release Book Review: Clouds on the Horizon by Penelope Janu

Penelope Janu is one of my must-read authors, she has one character who features in several of her books, including this one, Nate, and I am hoping once again that he gets his own happy ever after in his own book soon.

Clouds on the Horizon was a book I was looking forward to and it didn’t disappoint. I must say though, that it took me quite a while to get into this one, the characters didn’t lend themselves to me becoming caught up in their story for quite a while.

Phoebe has had a traumatic upbringing and hasn’t had much luck in relationships, she is like two different people; with the kid’s she is a therapist for she is warm and caring, but with most of the people around her, she keeps herself separate on an emotional and personal level. I found her brittleness and the way she was with Sinn, took me a while to get used to and though I understood her past dictated her behaviour, I just couldn’t warm up to her for the first part of the novel. Sinn was abrupt with Phoebe and though he wanted her help he didn’t want her involved in his investigation, Phoebe wouldn’t take no for an answer, a very stubborn woman. I didn’t feel the chemistry between Sinn and Phoebe until the second half of the novel, neither were willing to allow their feelings to really show, though Sinn was more willing than Phoebe.

I don’t understand much about horse syndicates other than people can make money from them, but it was clear Penelope Janu had done her research. The reason Sinn is in the area and needs Phoebe’s help was because of the work her father and her sister did on the accounts for the syndicate. While I got Phoebe’s need to protect her sister’s because of their upbringing, I did get frustrated with her behaviour in the case of this investigation.

I liked that because of this investigation and her relationship with Sinn, Phoebe had to really take the time to look at who she was now as an adult, and where she wanted to be on an emotional level and whether she wanted to take steps to change her life. She had two good friends who had her back, Mandy who was a counsellor and Jeramiah a local police officer, both of these helped her on an emotional level while dealing with Sinn and his investigation.

The animals in this story were fabulous characters, from the horses to Phoebe’s dog and then the gorgeous baby lamb, they made for some great scenes. I also liked Nate, Sinn’s off-sider and Pheobe’s small cast of friends and the children she helped. Penelope Janu has obviously done a lot of research around treatment for children with various issues and I found this very interesting seeing as this is part of my own work.

There was plenty to like about this novel and once I became fully engaged with the characters, I couldn’t put it down.

Thanks to Harlequin Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

New Release Book Review: The Waterhole by Lily Malone

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I have no idea how this post didn’t get finished when I started writing it well over a month ago, but I’m glad I can finish it now.

I was excited to hear Lily Malone had a new novel coming out, a departure from her usual genre this new rural crime novel has a much darker feel.

Lily has definitely managed to capture the feeling of small-town Cowaramup on the south coast of Western Australia.

This novel had some seriously unlikable characters, though one does redeem himself later on in the novel. I liked the characters of the two police officers and felt for Detective Marley West who has to prove himself to everyone because his grandfather was an extremely corrupt police sergeant who ruled the town for decades before. 

Told between three different timelines dating back to 1966, we slowly discover past secrets, and there are plenty until the many secrets expose the truth behind the human bones discovered in what used to be a waterhole. 

I’m looking forward to more dark crime fiction by Lily Malone and definitely looking forward to seeing more of Detective Marley West and hoping he can sort his life out a bit.

With thanks to the author for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review. 

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