Summer Lovin' Blog Tour

Sourcebooks Fire has put together a VERY exciting blog tour featuring two of their new releases that they think are perfect summer reads! And after Dorian and I read both books, we completely agree!
For our stop on the tour, we have reviews of The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond (reviewed by Dorian) and While He Was Away by Karen Schreck (reviewed by Brenna), as well as a guest post by Katherine Bond AND a special giveaway! Keep your eyes peeled for that, because you will definitely want to win one of these books!

While He Was Away by Karen Schreck
Release Date ~ May 1, 2012
Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN13: 9781402264023
E-galley received from publisher via Net Galley for blog tour

Goodreads Synopsis:
"This is just something I have to do, okay?" I hear David say. "The right thing."
He cradles my face in his hands. He kisses me hard. Then he lets go of me. His eyes dart from me to whatever's next.

All she wants is for him to stay. She's been doing pretty well, pretending he doesn't have to go. But one day, after one last night to remember, she wakes up and there's no denying it anymore. He's gone.
When Penna Weaver's boyfriend goes off to Iraq, she's left facing life without him. As summer sets in, Penna tries to distract herself with work and her art, but the not knowing is slowly driving her crazy. Especially when David stops writing.
She knows in her heart he will come home. But will he be the same boy she fell in love with?

While He Was Away had such a description that instantly stood out to me, and I knew it was one I would want to read once it came out. But I was utterly taken back when I was reading it, because it was so much more moving and striking than I ever thought it would be.
  1. A sympathetic story:
    I've never been in either David or Penna's position, so I can't speak for a minute to what they went through as he left for Iraq. I have no idea what that would be like for a couple, but I have to tell you how much my heart bled for the two of them; it was absolute agony as Karen expertly wove her story of David and Penna and their transition to this change. But it was worth it. As Penna questioned the war her boyfriend was fighting in, the nature of love and so much more, I found myself asking the same things along with her.
  2. A coming of age story:
    I really liked that David and Penna were just a bit older than most other YA characters (the story takes place the summer before Penna's senior year begins and just after David has graduated) so they're adults technically, but still very young ones. Penna's struggles with her mother and trying to be supportive for David are perfect indicators of the stage she's at in her own life. I think there's something very endearing about that.
  3. A REAL romance story:
    David and Penna don't live in a fairytale, they live in the real world with very real problems. Their story is one that many couples go through, but isn't as shared as often as it should be. And it's truly heartbreaking to watch it all unfold as you read their story in While He Was Away. All you want is for them to be together, and the aching they feel for each other is so fierce it just radiates off the pages. Yet they are so sweet and caring towards each other, it made my heart melt a little bit for them. THIS is a book couple to root for, and they need that support.
My one, tiny, minuscule complaint was that there were times when the plot itself moved along rather slowly. Not too much would be happening, because most of the story revolves around Penna's internal dialogue and personal transformation. Because of that, the story didn't feel as fully fleshed out and revealed as it could have been, which is why I'm hoping to read more about David and Penna to see where they end up (especially with that ending). Just throwing it out there, but I think it would be great to hear some more of their story from David's perspective because I imagine it would be drastically different from Penna's point of view!

It's also kind of neat to see the other stories going on as Penna explores life without David, and the other people around her. There's a lot to be told with those stories as well, although I wish a bit more background had been given.

This is truly an impeccable story of growing up, and the changes which occur within individuals and in their relationships with those around them. It keeps tugging at your heart, and it just doesn't let go.

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The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond
Release Date ~ May 1, 2012
Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN13: 9781402265044
E-galley received from publisher via Net Galley for blog tour

Goodreads Synopsis:
The day Brigitta accidentally flings herself into the lap of a guy she's never met, her friend Natalie is convinced he's Trent Yves, egotistical heartthrob-in-hiding. When the boy, who calls himself Luke, is nearly eaten by a cougar, Brigitta finds herself saving his life, being swept into his spectacular embrace and wondering if she wants Natalie's fantasy to be true.

As the two spend the summer together raising orphaned cougar cubs, Brigitta still can't be sure of his true identity. But then again, since her grandparents' death, her father's sudden urge to give away all their possessions and become a shaman, and her own awkward transition from girlhood into a young woman, she isn't sure of anything. What is the truth? More importantly, can she accept it?

I don't read a lot of contemporary fiction,(as you can probably gather from all of my reviews) so I am far from being an expert. I have read some though, and out of all of them, this novel I'd have to say is the most memorable. With a really unique protagonist, and situation, I think that this book is definitely worth checking out.
  1. Brigitta as a character:
    I think that we've all read about that girl who thinks that she's so socially awkward and weird, but she's actually really popular and everyone is just charmed by her.  Brigitta is not that girl.  She actually is just a painfully socially awkward girl, and while it can come off as cute sometimes, it is usually just embarrassing.  She has little to no friends, just because of how weird she is.  I found that this made her easier to relate to as a character, because she was very isolated people her age.  She's been through a lot in her life, and after a point in this novel, you just want to give her a hug.  While she did seem to get very swept away by Luke really quickly, I could kind of understand where she was coming from.  I mean, a little attention from a boy after hardly having any friends?  I would probably be swept away too.  She's fascinated by religion, which I found to be really unique too.  I tend to find that in most YA, the main characters are either all the way for it, or completely against it.  Brigitta was trying to figure it all out, which religion seemed to fit her the best.
  2. The Role of Religion:
    I really liked the way that the religion was handled in this novel.  None of it was really preachy, or was forced upon the reader.  While Christianity was the main religion that was pushed a bit more than the other beliefs, that was really only because Brigitta had a nostalgic, emotional tie to it because her grandparents had followed Christianity.  There were so many other beliefs brought up too, other than the more mainstream religions.  I found it really interesting to meet different side characters that came from different backgrounds.  This book really handled religion well.
  3. Luke:
    As soon as Luke enters the scene in this book, I was so fascinated by him.  He's every other girls dream; tall, mysterious, incredibly good looking, smart.  I really didn't judge Brigitta too much for getting so caught up in their relationship, because I loved Luke!  I didn't mind the whole "Is-he-Trent-or-Luke" thing, either.  It brought about some twists that left me guessing until the truth is finally revealed at the end.  Even his character, I found to be really great, though he could be incredibly confusing at times. Overall though, Luke was amazing.
I really, really liked this book.  My only complaint was the whole situation with the cougar cubs.  That was the only part that seemed a bit preachy to me, but it only came across that way a little bit.  This book is fairly unique, is definitely worth checking out if you're looking for a good contemporary novel, or if you're just stuck on what to read next.

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Finding the Real Me by Katherine Grace Bond
Sometimes I feel, as far as social groups are concerned, that I’m sort of a minor hello and goodbye part.

Diary, 3-29-77

As teens read THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS, I’ve been reading my teenage diary. REALLY embarrassing, but it has to be done. How else will I know whether I’ve actually grown up?
I shopped a lot, but thought I looked terrible in the “in” clothes (which included something called “gauchos”.) I went to a folk dance convention, was dumped by my best friend, fought with my mother. My dad yelled a lot. I almost got to be an exchange student in France. I asked a boy named Lyle for his picture every single week.
What strikes me, as I read these awkward entries, is that I expected other people to tell me who I was.
That was the year I followed puppy-like after friends who treated me shoddily, hoping I’d become worthy.
I glowed under the praise of teachers and knew I was smart.
I longed to shake off my parents’ overprotectiveness so I’d be mature.
I was certain my life would be “so great” if only fill in boy’s name here liked me. Then I’d be pretty.
Once, when a brand new song came on the radio, my best friend asked, mid-song, whether I liked it.
“Do you like it?” I asked.
“I’m not going to tell you,” she replied, and I faced the ultimate dilemma: Should I love it? Should I hate it? I couldn’t know until I got her opinion; I didn’t have one of my own. The still, small voice inside me had gone missing.

Though Brigitta in THE SUMMER OF NO REGRETS, hides the “real she,” she’s still more self-possessed than I was. But I did eventually find the “real Katherine,” and I’ve learned a few things about going from fake to real.     

  1. Create, create, create: write, sing, sculpt, build. What you create is uniquely yours. The more you create, the more comfortable you become in your own skin.
  2. Pay attention to your body. That feeling in the pit of your stomach may be telling you to get out of a bad situation. That exhilaration in your lungs may be telling you, “I should come here more often.” Your body knows your likes and dislikes—usually better than your friends do.
  3. Love boldly. Notice what you care about and act on it. Homeless kids? Volunteer at the shelter. Poetry slams? Start an open mic. Your grandmother? Pick up the phone.
  4. Be an encourager. I’m more myself when I encourage—“calling out” someone’s gift can be life-changing. One of my sweeter diary entries read, “Mary wrote my poem on the front of her notebook. She said, ‘Don’t erase it! I think it’s so beautiful.’” Mary, now a librarian, always encouraged my writing. Now, through TEENWrite, I get to do the same. 

And as it turns out, I’m more than a hello and goodbye part. And so are you. 

I'm going to draw one winner from the comments and they will win their choice of either The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond OR While He Was Away by Karen Schreck! Sourcebooks Fire is sponsoring this giveaway, and it's open only to US and Canadian addresses.

To enter, just leave a comment telling me which book you think you'd relate to more: While He Was Away or The Summer of No Regrets? Make sure you leave a contact e-mail so I can get a hold of you if you win! Standard giveaway rules apply.

I'll draw a winner on May 10th.

Good luck! And make sure you check out the other stops on the tour so you can find out more about these two great summer reads! :)


Review: Floodland

Floodland by Marcus Sedgwick
Release Date ~ July 1, 2010
Orion Children's Publishing
Review copy recieved from Hachette UK Canada

Goodreads Synopsis:
Global warming has caused the sea to rise until cities are turning into islands and civilization is crumbling. Ten-year-old Zoe discovers a small rowboat and keeps it a secret until she sets out alone on the great sea to find her parents. She lands on tiny Eels Island, where she must survive in a nightmarish world run by wild children, and stand up to its boy-leader, Dooby. Zoe and a boy called Munchkin escape from Eels Island and cross the sea to the mainland, where they find not only Zoe’s parents but a new family and a new world.

Floodland initially gave me the impression of a post-apocolyptic Lord of the Flies style book - a book which greatly impacted me when I read it in highschool and is one that I often consider the implications of and message from to this day.

Even small books can make a big impact, so I was optimistic when I started reading this one. But instead of packing a lot of punch in a small number of pages like I hoped, Floodland read more like a cautionary tale.
  1. A relevant message:
    Marcus Sedgwick clearly delivers a cautionary tale in Floodland, by suggesting the implications of the future of the environment if our actions are not changed; and while those who are familiar with Lord of the Flies will pick up on a similar theme which is implied by Floodland, it is much more than simply a new spin on the same story. But this is an issue that is so current and modern, that many contemporary readers will easily be able to relate to and it raises poignant questions about our society today.
The problem with this though was that it really didn't work in the same way as Lord of the Flies, because it didn't expand enough on this theme and so it lacked the impact. As well, very little background was given and there was next to no room for any development to take place in such a short span of time.
So while I read Floodland expecting a short novel, my thoughts by the end were that it reads more as a fable or short story as opposed to a full length book.
It does end, however, with a hopeful message and I appreciated that from it. I found this to be the most effective part of the book, as it was successfully portrayed in a meaningful and touching ending.

Purchase Links
United States

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Review: Angel Burn

Angel Burn (Angel #1) by L.A. Weatherly
Release Date ~ May 24, 2011
Candlewick Press
ISBN13:  9780763656522
Review copy received from Random House Canada
Goodreads Synopsis:
They're out for your soul.
And they don't have heaven in mind...

Willow knows she's different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people's dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. she has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself does. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces and that he's one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil.

There's no shortage of angel paranormal books out there, but there are a few reasons why this one stands out and is well-worth the time spent reading it. A fresh take on angel mythology, along with an exciting, action-packed and mysterious plot leaves you flipping the pages faster than you can turn them, and throw in some characters with GREAT chemistry and you have a winner!

  1. An original take on angels:
    The one thing I found to be really cool about Angel Burn was how it was able to cast angels in a whole new sort of light. I loved reading a book with angels where they weren't your typical angels - they certainly don't really act angelic in any way at all, and they're fairly cult-ish. It was a VERY original take and I loved reading this new twist.
  2. Natural romance:
    I loved the romantic relationship between Willow and Alex because they took their time, and there were real reasons that they fell in love with each other so it made sense to watch them grow closer and gradually fall in love, as a reader. Everything about their relationship felt so natural and true, even from their early stages of wariness towards each other.
  3. Action scenes make a thriller novel:
    I actually thought that Angel Burn made a great paranormal with a thriller feel to it since there is SO much action and excitement going on. There is so much mystery behind the events and changes taking place in Willow's life, and there really are high stakes at risk in this story.
But I did have one main problem wtih this book and that was that I didn't feel like I had enough background information to truly grasp the situation and in particular, I wanted to know more about the background and motives of the angels. As much as I loved the way they were presented in Angel Burn, I was hoping for more information on them so I'm curious to see if there's more of this in the sequel, Angel Fire. Either way, I didn't even notice this until I had finished the book because I was so completely engrossed by it. :)

Purchase Links
United States

10% Discount / APMA12 Coupon Code / Book Depository


Fairy Tale Giveaway Hop

I haven't done a giveaway hop in a long time now, but I decided to participate in this special fairy tale one hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer because fairytale books are so special to me.

They have always been some of my favourite books to read (I've read a large number of them) and even inspired my blog's name and theme.
As part of this hop, I'm sharing with you my top three fairy tale villains, but instead of using the typical fairy tale villains, I'm limiting this to those from retellings I've read.
  1. The Keeper from Heather Dixon's Entwined:

    Entwined is seriously one of the most underrated books that came out in 2011. It's a gorgeous retelling, one that reads with the ease and familiarity of an older, original version. And The Keeper is just downright creepy. He constantly straddles the line between suspicious and enjoyably mysterious, but then he just starts acting even weirder... and Heather Dixon had such a great way of writing his scenes, I would get shivers up my spine.
  2. Queen Levana from Marissa Meyer's Cinder:

    Cinder is one of the it books of the year, and for good reason. But I think one of the better reasons for this, and one that isn't often brought up, is the interesting Queen Levana as a character. I love that even though Cinder is a fresh and original retelling, there's still a character reminiscent of traditional evil queens from fairy tales (she really reminds me of the Evil Queen from Snow White actually).
  3. Ella's Stepfamily from Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted:

    You know what I love about them? They aren't perfectly evil in the most obvious sense of the word. But they're still great villains. They're just so petty and selfish, they're the perfect fit for the story and a great take on Cinderella's evil stepmother and stepsisters. And some of the things they do to Ella are just positively cruel and callous.

And, now for my prize as part of this hop...
One winner will win their choice of the following books:
All of these are wonderful stories, and some of the best books out there. Ella Enchanted is especially a must-read! I reread it at least once a year :)
And yes, this giveaway is open internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to you. Good luck and enjoy the hop!

Daemon Invasion 2012!

Guys! BIG ANNOUNCEMENT HERE! I'm sure some of you have already heard, but for those of you who haven't, I have a special announcmenet post from the fabulous Jennifer L. Armentrout and the Daemon Invasion team:

Over the last couple of weeks, you’ve heard us talking about the upcoming #daemoninvasion and we’re so excited to finally share with you what is going on.

Really excited.

The beautiful and uber cool models, Pepe Toth and Sztella Tziotziosz, who grace the Lux covers, will be joining us in the United States! You heard right. They are flying here, from Hungary to spend a few days as Daemon and Katy! While they are here, they will be working with Vania, from VLC Productions (the team behind Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments, Melissa de La Cruz, Kimberly Derting, Moira Young, Kami Garcia and Margret Stohl, Hillary Duff, Lauren Destefano, and many, many more authors’ book trailers), to film book trailers for the Lux Series.


During the filming in Atlanta, they will be accompanying us on tour! What does that mean? You get to meet them. In the flesh. They will be participating in the signings and events. At those signings, we’ll be giving away signed posters, photos, and other swag. There will also be meet and greet events you can join in on.

At each signing, there will be advanced copies of Onyx given away!


And to top things off (as if this isn’t enough, but we don’t do anything small), there’s something very, very exciting in the works! It involves advanced copies of Opal, water, and a little destination known as the Bahamas.


I am not kidding.


This will be epic.


Aare you excited? I am! This tour is going to be so, so much fun, and I’m so thrilled that Pepe and Sztella are a part of it. We owe them a huge thank you and a giant welcome making the 16 hour flight to meet the readers of the Lux Series. You!


Daemon Invasion Signing and Event Schedule
June 8th
FoxTale Book Shoppe
Woodstock, GA
June 10th
Barnes and Noble
St Johns Town Center
Jacksonville, FL
June 13th
Barnes and Noble
Waterford Lakes Town Center
Orlando, FL
June 14th
Barnes and Noble
The Palladium at City Place
West Palm Beach, FL

There are several #daemoninvasion street teamers out there and if you want to join a team to win exclusive prizes, search down the #daemoninvasion hashtag to join one of the teams!
Don’t forget to visit Jennifer L. Armentrout’s blog to win a signed set of Half-Blood and Pure in celebration of her adult romance release, Tempting the Best Man, under pen name J. Lynn. It can be purchased here.

P.S. if you love Obsidian (and Jennifer, and Daemon...) as much as I do, and want to join a #daemoninvasion street team get in touch with me!

Teen Review: Blood Red Road

Blood Red Road (Dust Lands #1) by Moira Young
Release Date ~ February 28, 2012
ISBN13: 978-0385671835
Novel recieved as a RAK gift.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.
Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.
This is one of those books where you either hate it, or you love it.  I was anticipating for this book to be alright, but what I didn't expect was to love it as much as I did. 
1. Saba
Saba is actually a really interesting person to read about.  She's rude, callous, and incredibly strong.  Usually, people like that tend to turn me off.  But for Saba, it really worked.  While I said that she was fairly insensitive, I could really tell just how much she loved Lugh.  From page one, he is mentioned in only the highest regards.  When he was taken, I felt her pain.  I could tell that the amount that because she loved Lugh so much, losing him was making her go mad.  Maybe it was just me, but I when I was reading some times, she really seemed to be losing her grip on her sanity.  She's completely disinterested in helping anybody else but herself, but I found that I couldn't help but like her.  I mean, she had every single reason to be as hard and bitter as she was.  She was a completely realistic character that I thoroughly enjoyed.
2. The Post-Apocalyptic World
The world that Saba and all the other characters live in I found to be thoroughly enjoyable.  After the apocalypse happens, the world is basically one big wasteland.  Unlike some other novels set in the future, there wasn't really any amazing technology.  Some things were different, such as a sand-surfing ship, but nothing too out of the ordinary.  I really liked the way that it was explained, too.  The world is really, really messed up, which I found to be a cool take.  You can't really trust anyone in this world, and nobody has a reason to trust you.  Everyone in this world wants something, and is working purely for themselves.
3. The Adventure
If you couldn't tell from the title, Blood Red Road, this novel's main focus is Saba's journey to find her brother Lugh.  While there were some delays in this journey, I thought that it was thoroughly enjoyable.  There are a full range of characters out, all with unique personalities.  Aside from that, the action was awesome!  There were tons of battles, and fights, and chase scenes that I found to be exhilerating.  I was excited, scared, and just plain frustrated throughout the entire adventure.  The adventure was thoroughly enjoyable.
4. The Language
This is probably the most controversial part of the book.  Saba has a very thick southern-style accent, and the book is written that way.  While I found it disorienting at first, I got used to it by the end of the novel.  I actually really liked it, and thought it fit in really well to the story.  If you don't mind reading a little bit of broken English, then I don't think that you will mind to much.
Although I did love this book, the one thing that I didn't like was how there were no quotation marks around the characters' dialogues.  This was a bit disorienting at times, when I thought Saba would be saying something, but it would actually just be in her thoughts.  Overall though, I think that this book was really well done and exceeded by expectations.

Purchase Links
United States

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Review: Above

Above by Leah Bobet
Release Date ~ April 1, 2012 (Canadian release date: March 1, 2012)
Arthur A. Levine ~ Scholastic
ISBN13: 9780545296700
Review copy received from Scholastic Canada
Goodreads Synopsis:
Matthew has loved Ariel from the moment he found her in the tunnels, her bee’s wings falling away. They live in Safe, an underground refuge for those fleeing the city Above—like Whisper, who speaks to ghosts, and Jack Flash, who can shoot lightning from his fingers.

But one terrifying night, an old enemy invades Safe with an army of shadows, and only Matthew, Ariel, and a few friends escape Above. As Matthew unravels the mystery of Safe’s history and the shadows’ attack, he realizes he must find a way to remake his home—not just for himself, but for Ariel, who needs him more than ever before.

Consider yourself warned: Above is like nothing else out there in YA. Above is a truly original and utterly engrossing read, one that is sure to leave a distinct impression on its readers. And frankly, this isn't a book that every reader will love because it's a very tricky one to read and doesn't make for light reading. However, I think it's one that most readers should at least give a chance because if it's one that you will enjoy, it will have a great impact on you.

  1. Thoughtful details:
    Leah Bobet clearly put a lot of thought into this book, and it is so rich in meaningful topics that I'm not even sure I picked up on all of the ideas and questions it raises. The story comes across as being so detailed and curious, with a very particular story to share. I'm not really sure how to explain it, but overall the details all seemed very conscientious that actually blended together very well and added to the story.
  2. Prose-like writing:
    I know some people who reviewed Above mentioned that they struggled with the writing; and yes, it definitely isn't written in the same style that the majority of books are written. But the way Leah writes Above just rolls off the tongue, with gorgeous phrasing and imagery that just flows off the page to meet with your imagination. It's stunning, really. But I can also see how this wouldn't be enjoyable for every reader (it all depends on taste). But it also captures the perspective of the narrator very well, and gives him a distinct voice.
  3. An intelligent read:
    Above is one YA book that really stood out to me as an intelligent book. It's one that makes you question norms and expectations, and re-evaluate things we readily take for granted. And the way it's written can be confusing at times (and yes, a bit convoluted in some phrases) but you really need to adapt your mind to it and be willing to embrace these differences to appreciate Above. And THAT is something I thoroughly enjoyed about it.
Above deals with a lot of notions and ideas, most of which fit in quite well with contemporary society. This urban fantasy portrays a remarkable story of a group of people just trying to fit in - somewhere, wherever that may be. And whether that may be with each other or not. And there isn't any easy answer to this, as Leah shows with Above, and each of the characters has a lesson to learn that will truly change their life.
But moreso, the story is tragic. I'm not sure if this was intended at all, but it seemed to me that Above did a good job tackling issues of equality among people and accepting the differences and flaws of others. And it took this a step further by highlighting the dangers of rejecting others and the hurt that can stem from that.
Yet I can also see how this would not be a book for every reader; it's beautiful, yes, but it requires a bit of patience to get used to the style and flow of the writing and really absorb yourself in the story. But once you do, here's a book that won't easily be forgotten.

Purchase Links
United States

10% Discount / APMA12 Coupon Code / Book Depository

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