Friday, July 29, 2011

CBR III Review #90: Pretend You Don't See Her by Mary Higgins Clark

CBR III Review #90: Pretend You Don't See Her  by Mary Higgins Clark

Lacey Farrell is a real estate agent working in New York City.  She starts working with a client who is selling her deceased daughters apartment. Her client is convinced something sinister has happened to her daughter and has started her own investigation. The investigation leads to the client's murder, one Lacey happens to witness.

The majority of the novel takes place with Lacey being put into witness protection. While in witness protection Lacey continues her own investigation into her Clients murder and the suspicious death of her daughter.  Lacey hopes if she can solve the case then she will be allowed to return home again and see her family and return to New York City.

The mystery was a little more difficult to solve then some of MHC's other novels, but Lacey drove me nuts.  How hard is it to follow certain rules in witness protection?  If you don't follow them chances are the person they are hiding you from will track you down and kill you.  I don't know about you, but that would give me plenty of incentive to follow all the rules as closely as possible.  Pretend You Don't See Her is a classic MHC novel so it all depends on what kind of mysteries you enjoy.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 422 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (May 25, 2000)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC0SZU
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

CBR III Review #89: I'll Walk Alone: A Novel by Mary Higgins Clark

CBR III Review #89: I'll Walk Alone: A Novel by Mary Higgins Clark

I use to read May Higgins Clark when I was in middle and high school, and I really enjoyed her books so I decided to see if MHC's novels held up after time.  My decision was split, Clark's novels are still well written but the mystery was outlandish and frankly super easy to solve.

Alexandra “Zan” Moreland is experiencing a mother's worst nightmare, her son was kidnapped in broad daylight two years earlier.  No ransom was ever demanded and no body was ever discovered.  Zan is slowly starting to put her life together when new evidence starts to surface in her sons case.  The only problem is all the evidence makes it look like Zan kidnapped her own son.  A picture surfaces that clearly shows Zan taking her son Matthew from his stroller while his babysitter napped next to him on a blanket in the park.  On top of the newly discovered picture someone is using Zan's bank accounts.  Supplies are being ordered for interior decorating jobs she has yet to secure and someone is buying plane tickets via her checking account with her name on them, which makes it look like she is about to run.  Has someone stolen Zan's identity or is it possible that Zan doesn't remember taking her on son?  Zan starts her own investigation to find out what happened to her son while everyone else has decided she is guilty.

Clark's novels are always a fast paced read and she does a decent job of setting up a mystery, but the problem with I'll Walk Alone is the big revel at the end is obvious and the novel follow the same formula as a lot of her novels.  I feel like Clark writes every novel from the same basic outline and just changes the names and basic mystery surrounding the characters.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 628 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1439180962
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 5, 2011)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0043RSKF8
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CBR III Review #88: Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson

 CBR III Review #88: Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson

Alison wakes up from a semi-conscious state to find herself in a hospital about to be moved to a mental institution.  Her memory starts to slowly return to her and all she can remember is fighting with fellow student Victoria Beaugrand outside the school.  As you get to know Alison you realize she has a weird condition.  Alison can taste letters and every letter has a specific color assigned to it.  Sound also resonates inside her.  She is convinced that this gift somehow killed Victoria by reducing Victoria to atoms.

For those of you that are familiar with psychology the first part of the story wont be a huge surprise to you, but it's interesting to watch Alison recognize her condition and you root for her to learn how to cope with it. However, once the author starts to explain what happened to Victoria the story takes a gigantic leap into left field.  I even double checked to make sure I was reading the same book.

I really loved the first part of the novel as Alison learns about her condition and the other patients brought some depth to the novel.  The relationship between Alison and her mom is heartbreaking and I was really enjoying the novel then came the last few chapters.

The direction, tone, and genre of the book changes from a coming of age story (with a dash of murder mystery) into a completely different story.  I don't think I have ever used the expression "jump the shark" but if I was going to apply it to something I would apply it to Ultraviolet.  I just feel like the ending should have been somewhat alluded to or more time had been spent explaining it.

I really enjoyed the first part of Ultraviolet so I struggle if I should recommend it to people or not, but hell go for it.  I will give you a cookie if you can guess the ending or if anyone else saw that coming.

This title will be released September 1, 2011.

Product Details

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Books; 1 edition (September 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761374086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761374084
  • Shipping Information: View shipping rates and policies
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  






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Monday, July 18, 2011

CBR III Review #87: The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon

CBR III Review #87: The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon

Claire Harkness, a student at the prestigious Armitage Academy,  is found dead in her dorm room.  Armitage Academy is a boarding school for students. The reader is immediately immersed in the murder investigation and it becomes apparent that the hallowed halls of Armitage hold a lot of secrets.  There are accusations of dangerous secret societies, molestation, and faculty who choose to look the other way.

The Twisted Thread follows several characters as the mystery to her death is unraveled.  The author follows staff, administration, students, parents, alumni, and for lack of a better word townies, throughout her novel.

Claire and the other students of Armitage are part of societies elite.  Clarie was the queen bee of this elite class of students and her death shakes the students to the core, but also means she had a fairly large target and made some enemies. The mystery deepens when it's discovered Claire recently gave birth and the baby is no where to be found.

Overall I really enjoyed the novel, but a few of the narrators/chapters I flipped through so I could get to another narrator. There is a second mystery surrounding the school that resurfaces from the past that lacks the punch that Claire's storyline has.  I understand the author's reasoning for divulging into another mystery that surrounds Armitage, but this mystery took place so long ago and is not connected to the murder so it feels extraneous a lot of the time.

The ending of the novel makes sense, but I prefer mysteries that drop enough clues that if you wanted to connect the dots yourself you could.  Overall, the writing is well done and consistent and even though I had a few minor problems with the novel I still enjoyed it.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

CBR III Review #86: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

CBR III Review #86:  Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Ashes is one part zombie and one part apocalypse fiction.   There is a huge flash in the sky and Alex drops to the ground in considerable pain.  Alex was in the mountains, far from civilization, saying goodbye to her dead parents.  The elderly man she ran into moments before the flash is now dead and his pain in the ass 8-year-old granddaughter, Ellie, who doesn't appear to understand the significance of what has occurred, is now without a guardian.  All their electronic equipment has gone dead and Alex must hike through the dangerous mountains to find help.
 
It doesn't take long for the characters to figure out that a electromagnetic pulse has wiped out all their computer and electronic equipment, but who set it off and why?  As Alex and Ellie make their way through the dangerous terrain they run into a few survivors of the pulse who appear intent on eating them alive.


I'm not sure why Ashes is labeled as young adult other than the main character Alex is a young adult herself.  The novel seems to equally divide itself into two parts.  The first part is Alex's journey through the woods while trying to decide if heading back to society to find out what happened is a good idea.  During the first part of the novel you to hurry Alex and her companions out of the woods so they (and you as the reader) can find out what is truly going on.  Ironically, when they decide to leave the relative safety of the woods you want to yell at them because their reasoning makes very little sense. Overall, I understand that the writer needed a way to further the story.

The second part of Ashes is Alex taking up residence (not of her own volition) in a very strange and ultra religious town. While reading other reviews of this novel I found that most people loved the first part of the novel and hated the second part.  I on the other hand enjoyed the second part more than the first, but I have soft spot for supernatural religious nut job stories.  It wasn't until I finished the novel that I realized there was not going to be any resolution and it has a planned sequel.  I just hope it's not part of a trilogy. 
I enjoyed reading Ashes but it's a weird apocalypse/zombie  novel.  It wasn't what I was expecting at all.  Some parts of Ashes does begin to drag and I think a few parts could be taken out to condense the novel just a bit.  

I'll follow up with the sequel whenever it shows up in stores. I do hope the sequel better explains what has happened to society and what caused it.  I was never 100% sure why certain people turned into zombies and why other did not.
 
This title will be released on September 6, 2011.

Product Details

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: EgmontUSA (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606841750
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606841754
  • Shipping Information: View shipping rates and policies
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #252,373 in Books
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

CBR III Review #85: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

CBR III Review #85: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

I loved The Beginning of After.  The story follows Laurel a teenage girl who instead of going with ice cream with her family chooses to go home and study for the SAT's.  The decision saves her life, but the rest of her family is in a horrendous car accident and her mother, father, and brother are killed instantly.  Her neighbor a childhood friend also lost his mother in the accident.  His father remains in a coma and was the man who was driving.  The police claim he is the reason for the accident and the story that follows is one of loss, grief, survivors guilt and forgiveness. 

The Beginning of After follows Laurel as she tries to lead a normal teenage existence while dealing with the after effects of the crash.  Laurel, because of the tragedy, becomes a minor town celebrity and now has to deal with the if someone is being genuine of if they just want to feel better for taking pity of the town orphan. I feel like that statement slightly trivializes Laurel's plight, but how would you react to new opportunities if you were not sure if you earned them?

The Beginning of After is beautifully written and I couldn't put down, despite the fact it was a major tearjerker. Undoubtedly, it will draw comparisons to If I Stay by Gayle Forman but they are two entirely different stories. Laurel was never given the choice that Mia was allowed.  I highly recommend both novels to readers.

 This title will be released on September 6, 2011.

Product Details

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061985791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061985799
  • Shipping Information: View shipping rates and policies
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,581,784 in Books 
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Friday, July 15, 2011

CBR III Review #84: Sisters in Sanity by Gayle Forman

CBR III Review #84: Sisters in Sanity by Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman is an excellent writer, I just wish she had been around to write novels when I was actually a young adult. I think I could appreciate her novels just a tad bit more if I was in the target audience. Sisters in Sanity is about Brit Hemphill, a young teen, who marches to her own beat or to her own drum (you get the point).  Brit is not sexually promiscuous and she doesn't do drugs, but she does stay out late and play in a band.  Her father and stepmother use that as an excuse to ship her off to Red Rock, a "school" for troubled teens. Red Rock is a nightmare. Red Rock's program aims to tear teenagers down other than building them up and bestowing them with self confidence.  Brit becomes increasingly depressed about her situation until she meets a few girls that makes the nightmare bearable.

I tend to lean towards mysteries and suspense, but I enjoyed Sisters in Sanity even though it's not my normal fare. There is no grand conspiracy to unravel just some teenage girls trying to make due in a horrible situation.  The novel is beautifully written. It is a a coming of age story, but I feel it is more relatable if you are an alienated teen.

Sisters in Sanity is a quick read and I really learned to enjoy Brit as a character and as a narrator.  As I said I wish I could have related a bit more to the story, but I highly recommend it to those who decide live life off the beaten path.

Product Details

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 Reprint edition (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060887494
  • ASIN: B00375LOR8
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 
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Thursday, July 14, 2011

CBR III Review #83: Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

CBR III Review #83: Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

I was warned by another Cannonball Participant that this is nothing like The Hunger Games, but I was intrigued by the title and took the bait anyways. I should have heeded the advice.

Girl in the Arena is not a bad novel, but I really think it suffers from the inevitable comparisons to The Hunger Games.  Lyn is a modern gladiators daughter.  Her mother is actually married to her seventh gladiator making Lyn the by-product of seven gladiator fathers.  A claim to fame that no one else has.  Girl in the Arena obviously takes place in an alternate reality where Gladiator games were resurrected underground, much like a fight club.  The games pick up popularity and become a huge sport around the world.

The novel begins with Lyn's seventh father going into what should be his final fight because of his looming retirement.  It does end up being his last fight, but only because he is defeated and killed by his opponent. As a result, Lyn becomes a pawn in the Gladiator Sports Association public relations plan. Iff she doesn't marry the man her killed her father her family will lose everything.  Lyn is now faced with three choices:  marry the man who  killed father, allow her family to become homeless and destitute, or win her freedom in the arena by fighting her betrothed. The circumstances that lead to these choices are utterly ridiculous and contrived, but it is a book about modern day gladiator fighting so I can look past these circumstances.

Another particular annoyance with the novel is the title of the book and the book blurb give away the entire plot line. In actuality she doesn't decide to try and fight for her freedom until the latter part of the book, and she doesn't even step foot into the area until the very very end of the novel.

I didn't hate The Girl in the Arena, but thank god it appears to be a stand alone novel. I'm exhausted from reading trilogies. Just don't be fooled by the title.

Product Details

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; Reprint edition (August 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599905213
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599905211
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

CBR III Review #82: Divergent by Veronica Roth

CBR III Review #82: Divergent by Veronica Roth

I hate to start this review off with letting you know this is the first in a planned trilogy.  Trust me I am as sick of typing it as you are of reading it. On the upside this is one of the better first novels in a trilogy that I have read in a few months.

A dystopian futuristic Chicago is divided into five factions: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent).  Once a year every 16 year old must declare themselves to a faction.  The majority of teenagers choose the faction they were raised in, but Beatrice decides to leave Amity and join Dauntless.  A move that she know will cause her parents heartbreak and embarrassment.  Unfortunately, for Beatrice (she renames herself Tris) choosing Dauntless does not mean she automatically becomes a member.  She and all the other initiates most prove themselves by going through a grueling initiation process.  A process not everyone survives.

Divergent is a novel that I sped through and couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next. Unfortunately, with it being a trilogy there is no closure and reading the next in the series is now a must.  It doesn't surprise me that Summit Entertainment has optioned the book for film adaptation even months before the book was released. I will warn you that at times you wonder where the plot is leading and you don't truly understand it's direction until the last few chapters, but the journey to those last few chapters is not a wasted one. 

I have a problem labeling Divergent a true young adult dystopian novel.  It has shades of dystopian because of the totalitarian ran society that was created after a large war that destroyed the majority of the United States (maybe the world?). However, Divergent is more of a coming of age story and finding out who you are despite what is expected of you.

The last few chapters set up a heart pounding conclusion that will segue nicely into the next released novel.  I hope the next novel spends more time on the dystopian aspects.  How did this society get created?  Who created the factions?  What happened to the rest of the world? I can not wait for the second novel to be released, but it looks like it'll be another year or so before that occurs.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CBR III Review #81: The Remains by Vincent Zandri

CBR III Review #81: The Remains by Vincent Zandri

First off, I want to start off by telling people about Lendle.me if you have a kindle or kindle app you can loan and borrow books from kindle users.  The books have to have been bought from Amazon to be able to lend it, but I have borrowed a few books now and it has been great!

Now on to the review.....

Rebecca Underhill and her twin sister went into the woods and were held against their will by a horrible man. They were only 13 years old.  They managed to escape 3 hours later, but the damage was all ready done.  Rebecca and Molly decided never to tell anyone what occurred. It's now 30 years later and Rebecca lost her sister Molly to cancer.  Both of her parents are dead and now strange and mysterious occurrences are starting to drag up the past.  Should she still keep this secret or ask someone for help?  The major question looming in The Remains is: Did someone find out about her traumatic ordeal or is the horrible man back 30 years later?

The Remains has a great set up but I really struggled with why Rebecca and Molly would keep their ordeal a secret.  Granted they were told multiple times not to go into the woods by their father, but I seriously doubt that would have been the part the father decided to dwell on.  This is a hard novel to review.  I really enjoyed the novel but there were a few plot points that just drove me crazy.  Her best friend and boss has something truly horrific occur to her, but it's not related to the main story or plot in ANY way.  I honestly have no idea why it was written into the novel other then to warn women off having "loose morals".

The flashbacks were well written and I like how we weren't given the entire back story in one info dump, but the incidents that were occurring in the present didn't come across as intimating or all that scary. I was more intrigued by the past story then the one occurring in the present, but the story was well written and I may pick up another novel by Zandri....I just haven't decided yet.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 380 KB
  • Print Length: 375 pages
  • Publisher: StoneHouse Ink; 1 edition (June 23, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003TSEN0I
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 
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Monday, July 11, 2011

CBR III Review #80: Fate (My Blood Approves, Book 2) by Amanda Hockingg

CBR III Review #80: Fate (My Blood Approves, Book 2) by Amanda Hocking

This is the second novel in the My Blood Approves series and I hate Alice even more than I did when I read the first novel.  There are two more novels in the series, but I just give up.  At this point I think Alice may have less of a personality then Bella (Twilight).  I enjoyed some of Amanda Hocking's novels because even if the stories were ridiculous she is able to write a strong female lead. To make matters worse the male characters are just as dull and lifeless as the female characters in Fate.  The love triangle is ridiculous because simply both boys are immature and insanely selfish.  Isn't the whole point of falling in love with a supernatural immortal teenager is they don't act like a typical teenager? If my vampire boyfriend wanted to sit around and play guitar hero all night long I would be finding a new supernatural species to stalk.

If you didn't read my first review then I can catch you up on some of the plot points.  Alice meets a mysterious stranger that saves her life (kinda I'm not sure she was ever in danger) and cue dramatic music...he is a ::gasp vampire::  In My Blood Approves Alice is torn between Jack and his brother.  She really likes Jack but she is drawn to Peter.  In the second installment , Fate, Alice is trying to balance her human live with her supernatural friends and does a fairly shitty job of it.  Apparently once you have a supernatural boyfriend you no longer need friends or need to go to school.  Learning is so overrated if you are planning on being turned into a vampire.

If you are going to write a Twilight rip off at least make the character interesting! Bella and Edward were the dullest teenagers to ever be created and Amanda Hocking has manged to create teens with even more tedious personalities.  Who knew that was possible?

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 347 KB
  • Print Length: 332 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1453816720
  • Publisher: Createspace; Second Edition edition (March 17, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003HGGHTW
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

CBR III Review #79: Wild Night Is Calling by J.A. Konrath, Ann Voss Peterson, Jack Kilborn

CBR III Review #79: Wild Night Is Calling by J.A. Konrath, Ann Voss Peterson, Jack Kilborn

Wild Night Is Calling  is an insanely short short story.  I love the story but I thought I was purchasing something more along the lines of a novella, something that would take me more than a few minutes to read.

Ann Voss Peterson wrote the first half and J.A. Konrath wrote the second half. Once again Konrath co-writes a story that blends in so well with the other half that it would be almost impossible to detect that it was written by two writers.

The story follows two teenage girls who have elected to follow two boys home from a concert to continue the party. For such a short story it manages to have a few twist and turns that make this story a fun and quick read.

If I'm not careful my review will actually be longer then the short story was itself. I should probably count this as a half novel, but if that was the case Game of Thrones should count as three or four novels :)

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 151 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004P8JMNY
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

CBR III Review #78: Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand

CBR III Review #78: Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand

Wolf Hunt in a short summary is absolutely freaking hilarious with tons and tons of gore.  If you are expecting a typical werewolf legend this is not a novel for you.  George and Lou are thugs for hire. These are the guys who show up to break your knee caps if you find yourself with a huge outstanding gambling debt and no means to pay it.  George and Lou take a job delivering a man, who happens to be locked in a steel cage.  The clients claim he is a werewolf and to keep their eyes on him at all times, but seriously who believes in werewolves?  George and Lou foolishly think they are simply delivering a man and they don't take all the advised precautions for delivering Ivan, the werewolf.  Unfortunately, once Ivan escapes George and Lou feel responsible to recapture him and bring his bloodbath, one of epic proportions to an end.

Wolf Hunt is a novel where I loved the price, the humor, the violence, and the characters! I imagined John Travolta and Samuel Jackson as George and Lou, simply because their bickering mimicked Jackson's and Travolta's characters from Pulp Fiction.

I'm not sure I would ever want to meet Jeff Strand in person, but I'm glad he became a writer instead of serial killer.  You can easily see how the man may have taken a different path.


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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

CBR III Review #77: Fully Loaded: The Complete and Collected Stories by Blake Crouch

CBR III Review #77: FULLY LOADED: The Complete and Collected Stories by Blake Crouch

Fully Loaded is a series of short stories written by Black Crouch.  I really enjoyed the majority of them, but the problem I have with most short stories is I always wish they were longer!

My favorite out of the series was probably Shining Rock because of it's ingenious ending. If you are a fan of Crouch's I would highly recommend this collection of short stories.  His patented brutal imagination and dark sense of humor is very present in all his short stories.

If you haven't yet read anything by Crouch this would be an excellent first encounter for any horror lover.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 372 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IE9VN6
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars
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